Summary: A sermon examining those who attempt to follow Jesus from afar.
Following From Afar
I recently watched a movie, and towards the end the main character turned to Christ. She was so excited about what Jesus had done for her and she went to work and told her co-worker who was also a very close friend. It was only after she shared her testimony that her co-worker revealed that she had been saved for years. They had worked together for a long period of time, they had eaten lunch together almost every day, they had even spent considerable time together away from work. Yet the main character had no clue that her friend was a believer. In all those years that lady had never indicated that she was a follower of Christ.... what a shame! Well, folks that doesn't just happen in the movies. In fact, in real life this is a far too common occurrence. There are people who may truly be saved but no one would know it. They are what we may refer to as a secret disciple of Christ. Let me say, that is not the way Jesus intended things to be!
There is another issue that I would like to address. There are some people who were once bold and devoted followers of Christ who have fallen away. They are not as close to Jesus as they once were. They may not have renounced their faith in Christ but they are at a place where they are "following Jesus from afar".
In our text we find a prime example of this in the life of Simon Peter. Peter had been one of Jesus' disciples for several years. In fact he had been a part of Jesus' inner circle. He left all that he had to follow Jesus. He has served the Lord faithfully. He has been instrumental in the ministry of Jesus. He had been a defender of the Lord. We even saw on one occasion where he stepped out of a boat and walked on water. In fact, earlier the same night Peter proclaimed - Mark 14:31 ...If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise.
But here in Matthew 26:58 we find that - Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. - At this point Peter was following Jesus from afar. Maybe you find yourself in a similar position. I would like to look at the events of that dreadful evening and preach on the thought "Following From Afar"
If you look back on the recent events in Peter's life he was with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed in agony that “If it be the Father’s will that the cup would pass from Him”. - Jesus told Peter, James & John to “watch and pray”. We witnessed Jesus come to them on 3 separate occasions only to find them sleeping.
Not long after this, Jesus was betrayed by Judas (Matthew 26:47-50) Then Peter cut off a servant of the high priest's ear (Matthew 26: 51-53) After this the disciples forsook Jesus and fled (Matthew 26:56). After the others fled for fear, Peter remained present but in the distance. As we walk through these verses we will see 3 issues that lead to "Following From Afar"
1) Conflict Leads To Following From Afar
2) Compromise Leads To Following From Afar
3) Curiosity Leads To Following From Afar
- Let's begin in verse 57 with the fact that:
I. Conflict Leads To Following From Afar - v57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
I can imagine the Devil is thrilled at this point in history. As things begin to take place there is a battle raging. There is an intense spiritual conflict taking place Notice if you will:
A. The People Of This Conflict
1) Scribes - Jewish teachers
2) Elders – Jewish rulers
The scribes and elders were the most hostile of Jesus’ enemies. We have witnessed through the scriptures time and time again as they attempted to "entrap Him in his words". Everywhere Jesus went there were religious folk attempting to tear Him down and discredit Him. Keep in mind, everything that Jesus would face from this point forward was prophesied in the Old Testament - Psalms 22:16 - For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
Jesus knew everything He would face before He came... BUT HE CAME ANYWAY!!! Why would He do this?? HE DID IT FOR YOU AND FOR ME!!!! - Not only do we see The People Of This Conflict... we also know: