57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end. (Matthew 26:57–58, NKJV)
Peter followed Jesus at a distance, to see how things would end. Earlier that night, Peter had pledged unflinching allegiance, “even if I have to die with You,” I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:35). But now, warming himself at the fire of the enemy, his reactions were quite different. Three times he denied knowing Jesus, even cursing and swearing his refutation (Matthew 26:69-75). You cannot successfully follow Jesus at a distance. That is the place of the spectator, who easily criticizes, but rarely participates. The light grows dim as we move away from the source, Jesus Christ (John 8:12). Attending an occasional worship service, offering an infrequent prayer, and giving lip service to following Jesus will tempt you to deny the Lord, just like Peter. Instead of distancing yourself from the Lord, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. (Luke 22:54, NKJV)
Earlier that evening, Peter had publicly stated he was ready to go to prison, and die, for Jesus (Lk. 22:33). He had even unsheathed his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant when Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane (Jno. 18:10). Now, Jesus is led bound to a series of trials, leading to crucifixion, Peter followed to see the end (Matt. 26:58). When tested, three times he denied knowing Jesus. Like Peter, we are not immune to thinking more highly of our faith and conviction than we should. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12; cf. Galatians 6:3). Instead of following Jesus “at a distance,” let us follow Him closely, determining to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, NKJV)
The rock upon which Jesus built His church is not Peter; it is the confession Peter had just made: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Without this great truth, there would be no church, no “called out” body of redeemed souls who are purchased by the blood of the Son of God (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 25-27; Rev. 5:9-10). It is an obvious, yet neglected truth, that the church belongs to Christ. The church does not belong to you or me, or any other person. Therefore, no one has the right to alter it, abuse it, disrespect it, discount it or corrupt it with the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:22; Matt. 15:7-9). The death of Jesus did not prevent the building of His church. Indeed, His death and resurrection declares His great power over sin and death. The church is the result of Christ’s great victory over sin and death. So, rather than minimizing the church as an afterthought, or as a non-essential, personal choice, let us praise God for the church of Christ and the heavenly blessings Christians have in Christ (Eph. 3:10-11; 1:3). There is only one church, and that is the church we must choose; the church which Christ built. The churches of men are not, and never will be, the church of Christ.
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16–18, NKJV)
The church belongs to Christ, not to me, or you, or any other person. Jesus built the church, purchasing it with His own blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25). The Father revelation (confessed by Peter) that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” forms the foundation upon which His church is built. Yet, 1.2 billion Roman Catholics believe this heavenly assembly of the saved (the “called out” ones, the church) is built upon the fleshly foundation of Peter. They have misunderstood the “rock” upon the church is built (v. 18). The name Peter (petros) is defined as “a (piece of) rock” (Strong) or a “stone” (Liddell-Scott), while the word “rock” (petra) upon which the church is built is used “of ledges…a mass of rock” (Liddell-Scott). Jesus did not build His church upon the man, Peter (a stone). He built His church upon the bedrock truth that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. “For no other foundation can anyone lay that that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18–20, NKJV)
Peter and Andrew’s immediate decision to follow Jesus sets an example for all who are contemplating following Him. Delay is dangerous and deadly, for by delaying one remains lost in sin. Peter and Andrew walked away from their livelihood in order to follow Jesus. The cost of being a disciple is real. God’s call to follow Him challenges one’s faith. Christians, too, are tempted to hesitate when the word of God calls us to do some good thing. What are you being indecisive about today? When you know the Lord’s will, do it with your whole heart and have His blessing (Jas. 1:25).
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22)
What are you willing to leave to follow Jesus? Fishermen Peter and Andrew left their nets and immediately followed Jesus when He called them. James and John immediately left their work, their boat and their father to follow Jesus when He called them. In another place it says these four men “forsook all and followed Him” (Lk. 5:11). Following Jesus requires immediate, complete sacrifice. Will you sacrifice anything to follow the One who sacrificed everything for you?