“Peter followed at a distance.” Luke 22:54
This little line comes after the last supper, the betrayal by Judas, praying on the Mt. of Olives, the tussle in the garden with the soldiers, and finally the arrest. “Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.”
Its not hard for me to imagine being Peter. I can be impulsive, like him. I can be stubborn, like him. I can be passionate, like him. And its not hard for me to imagine myself following….at a distance.
He’s not ready to give up yet. But he has no idea what is going on. He has invested three years of his life following this man. He loves Jesus. He really does. He was ready to fight for him. But Jesus said no. Swords are not the weapons of this kingdom. Perhaps Peter is waiting for Jesus to unleash the power of God on these people. But instead he sees Jesus mocked, beaten, and humiliated. So Peter does what he has been doing. He follows. But now at a distance.
We talk about doubting Thomas. Maybe here we have doubting Peter.
Maybe he thought he had been wrong.
Maybe he wondered if he had merely been caught up in the excitement of a new movement with a charismatic leader.
Maybe this worried that this whole thing had been a costly mistake.
I can almost feel Peter’s sense of loss. ‘How could I have been so dumb – again! I got caught up in this whole thing just like…..(some other time). When am I going to learn?
Confusion. Denial….denial! Jesus said I would deny him! Grief. Loss. Loss of my friend. Loss of the dream of a new kingdom. Loss of everything.’
Maybe part of Holy Week is remembering and confessing our own denials, our own doubts in the midst of our own losses. But unlike Peter that dark night so long ago, we can do this with the empty tomb in the background.
Even as we grieve our own doubts and denials that seem to come with great loss, we can remember what Peter did not yet know. Out of death – and only out of death – comes resurrection life.