Lessons Of A Lifetime

Following Jesus At A Distance
Or
Denying Jesus From A Distance
Sunday May 7, 2023

Scripture To Consider:
“Then the detachment of the troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Anna first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was the high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.”

 “And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in.”

“Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.”   John 18.12-18

Something To Consider:
It was Caiaphas the high priest who in John 11.50 had prophesied that it was expedient or advantageous that one man should die for the people. It is an amazing fact that God can intervene even in the mind of His enemies to speak forth truth.

Caiaphas, being a part of the pre-arranged plot to arrest and crucify Jesus, could not help himself and spoke the truth of God in the hearing of God’s enemies. God is never without a witness, even in the darkest moments of history.

Therefore, even in the midst of this 21st century, darkened by political and religious deception and much hypocrisy, God is not without His witnesses. On what side of the eternal courtroom and countdown will we be found? Are our lives witnessing to the goodness and greatness of our God? Or are we merely extensions of the abounding lawlessness and evil unleashed in the earth today?

Something Else To Consider:
Simon Peter and another unnamed disciple who was known to the high priest, followed Jesus. Most bible scholars believe John himself was the other disciple. Others believe it may have been Joseph of Arimathea, but we do not know for sure. What we do know for sure according to Luke 22.54, is that Peter followed Jesus at a distance.

Now following Jesus at a distance has proven to create compromising circumstances for many believers of Jesus in the past. Following Jesus at a distance leaves room for temptation to squeeze itself between a follower and Jesus. And yet, at least, Peter was following Jesus.

Would you or I consider ourselves following Jesus at a distance? Are we always confronting the temptation to compromise our biblical principles and or biblical convictions? If so, how far away are we following Jesus?

In other words, would we be found guilty or innocent of being loyal to Jesus? Are we fulfilling our biblical duty as it pertains to following Jesus? We are admonished in Ecclesiastes 12.13, “Fear God, and keep [or obey] His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man [men, women and young people].”

Following Jesus at a distance means we probably are not being about our Father’s business! John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, declared in 1 John 2.1; “Now by this we know that we [you and me] know Him [Jesus], if we keep [or obey] His commandments.” It always centers around our obedience and our allegiance to the Word of God. It is the truth, therefore me must obey!

It is not difficult. If we are obeying Christ’s commandments, then we are following Jesus at a good and close and safe distance. If we are not obeying His commandments, then we most likely are following Jesus at a distance which most likely will lead to our denying Jesus.

Something More To Consider:
This other unnamed disciple made arrangements for Peter to be brought into Caiaphas’ courtyard, closer to Jesus. It was there in the coldness and darkness of the night air, that Peter was found warming Himself by the world’s fire. It was there after following Jesus at a distance, that Peter was found denying a young girl’s accusation that he was a disciple of Jesus.

Peter’s words probably froze in the coolness of the callous crowd when he denied and said, “I am not.” And yet, how many times in our own lives have our thoughts, our actions, or our words denied Jesus? How many times have what we’ve done, not agreed with what our mouths have declared?

How many times as we have followed Jesus at a distance, have our lifestyles denied Jesus to those watching and weighing every detail of our lives by the scale of the Word of God? Be assured, we are being watched and weighed in the balance by those closest to us!

Jesus professed in Matthew 5.16; “Let your light so shine before men [women and young people], that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” And in verse 48 of that same chapter, Jesus explained; “Therefore, you shall be perfect [or merciful in the King James version], just as your Father in heaven is perfect [or merciful].”

A Few Final Words:
Are we letting our lights shine before others as commanded by Jesus? I am of an older age now and living in retirement. I noticed my patience wearing thin at times in the heat of the brutal business week in the last months of work. Therefore, I posted a note at my desk which states: “Be salt and light or stay home!” I am amazed that I made it to the end of my working in the world.

There are few who have not denied Jesus, just as there are few who have not followed Jesus at a distance. But there are many who have been drawn into the kingdom by His love and His forgiveness. Therefore, let us together, work towards being salt and light every day!

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, warm our hearts with the fire of Your Holy Spirit and the forgiveness found in and through the blood of Jesus. Teach us every lesson of a lifetime that makes us more into the image of Jesus. In Him Always, Amen!

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