Distance Matters

Jon Opgenorth

Read: Luke 22:54-62

Peter was following at a distance. (v. 54)

Peter is understandably confused. Although he confessed Jesus as the Christ (Luke 9:20), he cannot understand Jesus’ arrest. Why this now? The thought of the Messiah suffering at the hands of his own people and being nailed to a Roman cross is simply unthinkable. Everyone knows the Messiah will restore David’s kingdom. What do you do when Jesus does not fit your expectations of what a Savior should be?

Peter chooses distance. This was not quite the rebellion of Judas’ betrayal or the fear of disciples’ fleeing, but he nonetheless chooses physical and spiritual distance from Jesus. This is what Jesus said would happen, but Peter can’t seem to help himself. What can he do? Perhaps he recalls Jesus’ upper room conversation: “Abide in me, and I in you . . . apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). Even the best efforts of his well-intended commitment could not stand up in the face of adversity. Peter will later be restored as the leader of the apostles, but in this moment, distance leads to denial.

Most followers of Jesus go through seasons of doubt and darkness. Life does not follow a straight line of ease. Still, the unevenness of life catches us by surprise. A beloved friend dies, a spouse abandons the marriage, a disease saps health and vitality. When confusion about your faith comes, when doubts about Jesus arise, what do you do? Peter chose distance and wept bitterly. Tomorrow we’ll meet others who chose a different posture. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, talk to God about your own questions of faith.