TITLE: At A Distance
DATE: April 18, 2019 – Maundy Thursday
TEXT: MT. 26: 58 – ESV - And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.
In Luke's Gospel, he tells of how Jesus healed ten lepers who stood at a distance. (Luke 17:11-13). Later he shares Jesus’ parable about two men, a Pharisee and a tax-collector, who “went up to the temple to pray.” Jesus shared how the one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The tax collector stood at a distance. He said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' (Luke 18:10-13)
In Luke’s Gospel, on Maundy Thursday, Jesus was arrested. As He was taken away by the soldiers, Luke says, "they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. (Luke 22:54) In Luke’s Gospel, on Good Friday, as Jesus is crucified, it is recorded: "…all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things."
Time and again, Luke talks about standing at a distance.
Sometimes that action is reasonable. It was reasonable for lepers, with their disease, to stand at a distance. It was reasonable to stand at the distance during the Savior’s execution. Executions were terrible, violent, horrible events, made even more so if you knew the person being executed. There are other times, when following at a distance seems to be just an excuse. It was an excuse to not get too close.
Now how is it at your church?
I can tell you. In almost any church, I can tell you the very last seats to fill up. You know them: the fronts rows. Congregations always fill their church from the back. Sometimes you can see children, who don’t know the rules, drag their parents up front. Parents come reluctantly. It is as if they are afraid of getting too close. That’s why everybody worships at a distance.
On the other hand, take a look at a baseball game, a football game, a golf tournament, a rock concert. People pay a higher price for the seats up front. Why? To get a better view. To be a part of the action. But people don't want to be part of the action with Jesus. Luke knows it, there is something safe about following Him from a distance….and there is something frightening about following Him up close.
Why should this be? Well, partly because Jesus does some unpredictable things. He tells us to "take up our cross and follow Him. “Gladly, Lord, but I hope it’s ok if we follow at a distance." There are places where Jesus goes, people whom He touches, things He says, that keep us at a distance.
It is more comfortable to stand at a distance from the Savior.
If you doubt it, let me prove it. How many times have you not heard someone at church say, “You know, somebody ought to do something about…..” And then they fill in the blank.
But when it’s time to DO something about the problem, those folks are nowhere to be found. They are following at a distance.
But the Savior has called us to follow Him close up. He Who gave His life as the ransom which forgives our sins invites us to be close to Him for eternity.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, You never kept Your distance from us. Grant that nothing keep us from following You Who have made heaven a reality. May I do .my best to bring Your story to others who have never seen you In Your Name I pray. Amen
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann. He along three of his brothers perform on the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html