“But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome.” (Matthew 26:58)
Jesus calls us as His disciples to follow Him. But we often fall short of really living out that call. In the aftermath of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, we see how Peter exhibited a “defective discipleship” in a number of ways:
— “Distant Discipleship”: It says he was “following Him AT A DISTANCE.” Why was he following “at a distance”? Undoubtedly because he didn’t want to be associated with Him too closely. And sadly, many of us today adopt the same posture. We follow Jesus “at a distance” — not too closely; hoping not be embarrass ourselves, or be labeled as too “radical”, etc. This kind of person still claims to be a follower of Jesus, but often times they are “following at such a distance” that it is very difficult to tell if they are really His disciple at all! This is not what Jesus intended when He said “Follow Me!” We are to totally identify ourselves with Him, and anything less is a “defective discipleship.”
— “Restricted Discipleship”: :58 also indicates that Peter went “AS FAR AS the courtyard of the high priest.” Here Peter had “restricted” how far he was going to go in following Jesus. Evidently he had somehow decided: “I’ll go this far and no more.” And many who claim to be Jesus’ disciples today have the same kind of limitations: “I’ll serve, but I won’t do missions.” Or “I’ll go on a mission trip but I won’t go to Africa.” Or “I won’t marry a minister.” Or “I’ll go to church but only on Sunday mornings” — or whatever limitation you have put on your commitment to the Lord. This too is “defective discipleship” because when Jesus is truly “Lord” there are to be no limits on our obedience to Him.
— “Spectator Discipleship”: The verse concludes by saying that Peter sat down “to SEE the outcome.” He was content to be an observer here, but he was not going to participate in any way which might affect the outcome. Many people who attend churches in America evidence this kind of “defective discipleship.” They have come to observe, to watch the Sunday “event” like a fan does a football game. But they are not doing anything significant that would really contribute to the outcome. They might say “That was a good service” (or NOT!) or “The church apppears to be growing/declining” — but they are not active in the ministries of the church. We need to understand just how “defective” this kind of discipleship is. God has not called His people to be “fans” or “spectators” or “critics”, but active disciples who are following Him by doing the work of the Kingdom.
Could one of these kinds of “defective discipleship” characterize YOUR life? The solution: recommit yourself to REAL DISCIPLESHIP, in which you follow Jesus seriously by 1) consistently identifying with Him in public, 2) being willing to do whatever He asks of you, without limitations & 3) always being an active part of His Kingdom work.