Following afar off
“And Peter followed Him (Jesus) afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.” - Mark 14:55
In Mark 14, as the Lord Jesus leaves the upper room, He told His disciples that they all would deny Him. Peter refused to believe he would. In fact Peter speaks up in verse 29, “Although all shall be offended, yet not I.” Then Jesus tells Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crows twice.
As they come to the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord warned Peter and the other disciples to “Watch ye and pray lest you enter into temptation.” In other words, have spiritual discernment and be engaged in preemptive prayer. Pray beforehand. Peter, like so many of us, was not prepared to face what came upon him. Once the Lord Jesus was arrested, Jesus went through an unofficial trial conducted by the high priest and the Jewish council under the cover of darkness meanwhile Peter would go through his own unofficial trial conducted by the servants of the high priest.
As Peter warmed himself with the crowd, a maid servant of the high priest takes on the role of the prosecuting attorney, and in verse 67, she looks at him and asks Peter if he was with Jesus of Nazareth, who was just condemned to die. However Peter lies in verse 68, “I know not, nor understand what you are saying.” Then Peter, trying to avoid her questions goes out into the porch, and the rooster crowed the first time. In verse 69 the maid saw Peter again and shouted out her accusation against him, “This is one of them.” Peter once again denies the accusation. A little while later, all the servants gets involved as witnesses accusing Peter, and he reacts by cursing and swearing saying, “I know not this man who you are talking about.” Immediately after Peter’s third denial the official verdict in this unofficial trial was declared by the acting judge. When that rooster, the judge of Peter’s trial, crowed the second time he declared the guilty verdict against Peter. It says, Peter “thought thereon and wept.”
Dear child of God when we, like Peter, “follow Jesus afar off” we can find ourselves warming up to the enemies of our Master. When we “follow Jesus afar off” we find ourselves lying. When we “follow Jesus afar off” we make excuses of why we can’t. When we “follow Jesus afar off” we find ourselves using foul language. When we “follow Jesus afar off” we find ourselves eventually denying the One we love most.
Many Christians find themselves “following Jesus afar off,” afraid like Peter. How can this be avoided? Draw near (Hebrews 10:22), watching and praying. Come close to your Heavenly Father and confess whatever has pulled you away, and He will lovingly restore you by His sovereign grace.
David C. Hale, pastor