But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. BUT PETER FOLLOWED HIM AT A DISTANCE, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
(Matthew 26:56-58, NIV)
To follow at a distance implies merely being an observer and not a participant. When Peter followed Jesus from a distance he was disengaged in the immediate and intimate activity of Jesus. Peter was not identifying with the life of Jesus in that he was not participating in what Jesus was doing, but merely observing the life of Jesus from a distance to "see the outcome."
Why do we at times follow Jesus at a distance?
At times we are uncertain about the activity of Jesus and what He is doing. This uncertainty creates fear and hesitancy within us. At this point we have a choice, we can fully commit ourselves to walk closely with Jesus through whatever activity He is doing or we can step back and distance ourselves from any intimate contact or participation in what Jesus is doing and merely observe from a distance until we see the outcome.
At the heart of following Jesus from a distance is a lack of trust in the overarching plan and activity of God.
"But this has all taken place that the
writings of the prophets might be
(Matthew 26:56, NIV)
Perhaps following from a distance exposes the true intentions of the heart - that my full activity and participation in the life of Jesus is contingent upon convenience and whether or not I think and see it as beneficial according to my understanding.
Jesus told His disciples that if anyone would follow Him that they would need to be willing to "take up their cross and follow Him." This was an invitation to follow Jesus, not from a disengaged distance but an intimate interaction and participation in the exact thing that Jesus was doing, which was Him taking up a cross and laying down his life for others.
Jesus demonstrated what it means to follow God - He did not follow God on some theatrical and adventurous notion that led Him to the cross, but the cross was a part of a detailed plan that had been foretold centuries before. Jesus knew this because of His intimate engagement with His heavenly Father; and He followed God's plan and not His own by trusting in His father's heart and goodness and His ability to work all things in accordance to His good and perfect will.
Am I fully engaging with Jesus in all areas of my life?
This entails my life being hidden in the Life of Christ - that my actions, thoughts, and motives become one and the same with His.
As for me, HOW GOOD IT IS TO BE NEAR GOD! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
(Psalm 73:28, NLT)
Following Jesus transforms us into:
A CHRISTIAN PEOPLE... living out our faith
A HOLINESS PEOPLE... pursuing spiritual purity
A MISSIONAL PEOPLE... actively serving others.
At Southeast, we strive to engage in the life and mission of Jesus by leading distinctly Christian lives that mirror the life of Jesus and how he followed His Father’s plan. Pursuing this plan is marked by a life of holiness – a life wholly dedicated to allowing Christ to reign supreme in every aspect of our lives. The proof of this reality being realized in our lives is our involvement in Jesus's mission - to bring the good news to the poor and the outcast, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to love our fellow believer as Christ loved us and sacrificed his life for us.