Matthew 26:58 NRSV
But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end.
When rereading the familiar stories of Holy Week, I challenged myself to look for parts that haven’t struck me before – or, more accurately, that I haven’t paid enough attention to before. This particular verse (Matthew 26:58) hit me in a way that made me feel both uncomfortable and challenged.
It’s uncomfortable because it so plainly reminds me of my shortcomings. I, like Peter, tend to follow Jesus “at a distance.” I, again like Peter, like to wait around on the outskirts to “see how this would end.” It’s more comfortable here – a little removed, not fully committed, and with an escape route readily available. I also want to know the ending before I jump in, and if I don’t, I’d rather stay in the courtyard, like Peter.
I find myself living like this often and for that reason, this verse is particularly jarring. It’s easier to be a Christian when the edges are fuzzy and out of focus from a distance – there’s more room for interpretation. That’s usually a good thing for us and our sins, but a bad thing for our relationship with God.
Jesus knows that we, like Peter, want to take the easy way out. We want to know how this will end. But he loves us under all conditions, not just when we’re playing by the rules and in bounds. It’s a forgiveness that we don’t deserve, but receive by grace. This verse it a challenge to draw closer to God and fully commit to him.
Dear God, we put you at a distance because it’s easy and safe. We want to know that the ending will be a happy one for us. Help us embrace your love and knowledge and draw closer to you, no matter what. Be with us as we challenge ourselves in this way and help us grow our unconditional faith in you.