Peter Followed at a Distance


Today we look at a story that is not unlike what many go through in their walk of following Christ. The story of Peter’s denial while under pressure and fear should comfort and encourage many who have had the enemy lie to them that they have committed the unforgivable sin. The Holy Spirit directed Luke and the other Gospel writers to focus on a side story away from the central drama of the crucifixion. We are to see that God is full of grace and mercy toward those who have, by their actions, denied Christ.

It was more than likely past midnight when the soldiers and the temple guards arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. John tells us that they bound Christ before leading Him across the Kidron Brook to the Palace of the high priest on the west side of the Temple area. Annas had been the high priest for ten years, and the position was supposed to be for life, but the Roman procurator Gratus had deposed him. The son-in-law of Annas, Caiaphas, held the title of High Priest, but he was more a puppet of Annas (Acts 4:6). Most people still saw Annas as the most influential in much of the political and social life of the nation, for he was supposed to be the high priest until his death. Both Annas and Caiaphas lived in the palace compound of the High Priest's residence, with a courtyard separating them. Living lavishly by their various money-making schemes, they were well protected with walls, gates, servants, and guards to protect them. We'll read Luke's account first, and then, to arrive at a complete picture of all the drama, we will look at what the other Gospel writers record.

54Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them (Luke 22:54-55).

As well as Luke, both Matthew and Mark note that Peter followed the "large crowd" (Matthew 26:47) at a distance. As we have stated over the last few days, there were more than 450 Roman soldiers plus the temple guards that probably brought the number to around 600 people. After Jesus was arrested, the eleven disciples scattered, but two of them found one another on the way while following the large crowd. Luke does not say who the other disciple was, but it was likely the Apostle John. In typical fashion for John, he rarely referred to himself. He wrote:

15Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard, 16but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in. 17"You are not one of his disciples, are you?" the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, "I am not." 18It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself (John 18:15-18).

There is a progression seen in the two above passages of Scripture. When we follow the Lord at a distance, we should not be surprised to find ourselves warming our hands at the fires of our enemies that oppose the Lord and His kingdom. Be careful whose side you are on in this war against the forces of darkness. Keith Thomas

Taken from study 61 in Luke: Peter, the Broken Disciple