John 18:15-18 “Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, ‘You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.”
Here in the first of Peter’s three denials of Jesus we get some insight into his mindset. First, we are told that he “followed Jesus.” He was following Jesus to see what would happen to Him after His arrest at Gethsemane. He followed, but not too closely. He wanted to see what would happen to Jesus, but He didn’t want anyone else to know he was following. The cost was too high. He didn’t want to risk the cost to himself if he was to be identified with Jesus. He mingled with those who were warming themselves by the fire – comforting himself, while Jesus was led to what would be the beginnings of great discomfort, indeed torture and then death.
What about you and what about me? How closely do we follow Christ? Are we interested in Him? Would we rather “follow” Him than not follow Him? Do we, like Peter, genuinely believe that Jesus is the Son of God? If we were to be asked by Jesus himself “Do you want to follow me or do you want to leave me?” would we, like Peter say “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)? Note that Peter affirmed this prior to the events above in John 18. Have you affirmed, at one time or other, that Jesus is indeed “the Lord” but more than that “your Lord?” Have you counted the cost? If you’ve found that following Him would cost you too much, then what have you done? If you knew He wanted you to sacrifice time, money, reputation, or comfort to serve Him, what have you done then? What are you doing now?
It is clear from the passage above that one can be a genuine follower of Jesus, yet a cowardly follower, or a follower, so long as it doesn’t lead to personal discomfort or sacrifice. In the end, that leads to a denial of Jesus, just like Peter’s denial. If that describes you, it is not too late to turn around. Like Peter, you can be forgiven for your half-hearted allegiance to the one who died for you. As with Peter, please know that the same Jesus, Whom you have denied, is praying for you that your faith, although weak, would ultimately not fail. He knows we are weak, yet He, incredibly, loves us just the same. While there’s yet time to serve Him as you know you should, turn back to Him and ask Him for the courage and the boldness to serve Him openly.
The temptation to deny Christ is an ever-present reality in our lives. The apostle Paul, as courageous and great a believer as he was, was quick to ask others to pray “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). Others in the early church did likewise as we see in the following prayer: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29). Don’t let past failures in this regard cripple you in the future. Every one of us needs courage to serve Christ as we should. We are weak, but He is strong, and He alone can give us the strength to serve Him boldly, as we should and as He most assuredly deserves.
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