Theme: The Need to Follow Closely
In this week’s lessons, we look at the story of Peter’s denial, and see that no matter our sins, we can be forgiven and restored because of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Scripture: Matthew 26:75
The third point is that when they arrested Jesus, we’re told that Peter followed, but he followed at a distance. I don’t want to read too much into that. I said earlier that Peter at least followed when the others didn’t. But it strikes me as significant that he followed at a distance. Why at a distance? Well, obviously, because he thought he was safer at a distance. If he were right up there side by side with Jesus, well, you know, they would have arrested him, too. But if he was at a distance, particularly if he could pretend he was something other than he was, well then, they might overlook him, and he could find out what was happening and not actually get into trouble himself.
But trouble came to Peter anyway, even when he was by himself. He would have been far safer if he had been with Jesus. Jesus is the victor, and where we’re going to win the battle is at His side. It’s when we get far away from Him that we’re in trouble. Peter was trying to keep one foot in the camp of the disciples of Jesus and the other foot in the world.
Charles Spurgeon talked with a girl who was trying to do that on one occasion. She said she was a believer in Jesus, and she certainly wanted to follow Him, but she didn’t want to be too serious about it because she wanted to enjoy the world, too. Spurgeon told her that when she went out of the tabernacle today, she is going to catch a tram to take her home. There are three things she can do when that tram comes by. One thing she can do is put one foot on the tram and keep the other foot on the ground. If she does that, she’s going to fall. Many people try to do that. They try to be Christians, but they try to keep one foot in the world at the same time, and it never works. You can’t be a follower of Jesus and a follower of the world, too. It has to be one or the other, and those who try to live that way eventually have a fall.
The second thing he said to her is that she can keep both feet on the ground, stay there in the world, and try to enjoy the pleasures of the world as much as you can. The third choice he said she had was to get right on the tram and allow it to take you away. That is the course he recommended. He said that, spiritually speaking, Jesus is the tram. Allow Him to take you over the tracks of holiness and bear you eventually to the terminus of His glory when you die. It is impossible to have one foot with Jesus and the other with the world. You cannot be a follower of Christ from a distance.
The final thing I want to say about Peter is what Psalm 1 suggests when it says that he walked, stood, and eventually sat with Christ’s enemies. I don’t mean to say by this that you and I are not to be in the world in a certain sense. Jesus has not pulled us out of the world to live like monks. He has put us in the world to bear a witness for Him. But, you see, it’s one thing to be in the world to bear a witness, and it’s quite another thing to be walking with the world, standing with the world, sitting with the world, and in all ways to be indistinguishable from the world, which is what Peter wanted to be on this occasion. It’s while he was in that kind of a condition that he denied Jesus.
Explain what could be meant by mentioning that Peter was following Jesus at a distance.
From the illustration, describe the three choices Spurgeon gave to the girl he was talking with.
Application: Though we do live in the world, what are some practical ways we can keep from becoming worldly?
Key Point: It is impossible to have one foot with Jesus and the other with the world. You cannot be a follower of Christ from a distance.