Falsely AccusedSeries: The Gospel of Mark
Following at a Distance
As people talk about the last hours of Jesus’ life, much discussion has been made of the disciples’ absence. In the Garden, as Jesus was being arrested, Mark says, “they all left him and fled.” (Mark 14:50) A few verses later, however, it appears that not everyone left. Peter, to his credit, “followed him at a distance” (15:54) and ended up in the courtyard outside the high priest’s house where Jesus was being put on trial.
I’ve thought a lot about this response of Peter’s throughout the years. On one hand, perhaps we should admire him for at least staying in the game when the other disciples left for good. On the other hand, Peter displays a sort of hesitancy to get involved, which becomes more apparent the further the story goes. As he stands in the courtyard, he is asked by multiple people if he knows Jesus. Given the opportunity to associate with Jesus and put himself closer to his best friend’s cause, Peter declines by first denying, then cursing in an attempt to put as much distance between himself and Jesus as possible.
This story in many ways serves as a metaphor for life. There are several responses to Jesus—outright rejection and running the other direction, full on acceptance and total commitment, or hesitant acceptance hinging on certain conditions. Peter seems to fall into the latter. He can’t quite give up on the idea just yet, but when pressed by others in the courtyard, he falls apart. He was willing to follow so long as he didn’t have to commit to anything.
How about you? Do you struggle with hesitancy and noncommitment? Does your decision to follow Jesus hinge on certain conditions: answered prayers, fulfilled dreams, a certain standard of living, etc.? Or, do you follow Jesus and let everything fall where it may. My prayer for myself is that my pursuit of Jesus will never have any conditions and that, when pressed, I would be able to hold to my faith. Instead of “following at a distance,” I want to be following closely.