Posted on Sat 04/16/2022 by


Some of us want to follow Jesus from afar. Like Peter, we don’t want to get so close to Him that people think we’re His disciples. ~  

Although he had covered this ground many times, he still maintained a heightened sense of alertness. If several years in Vietnam had taught him anything, it was that you could never let your guard down. But there comes a time when, despite your best efforts, you are caught off guard. Suddenly, as if it had simply materialized, a grenade was at his feet. In the brief second it took him to recognize the object, it detonated, setting off a chain of excruciatingly painful events, ultimately leading to salvation through Jesus Christ. My (famous) twin brother, Roger, whom I’m referring to above, named the second iteration of his Vietnam testimony, fittingly, “Pointman.” I’m going to come back to this shortly.

I thought of this as I recently read the story of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter, in a fit of anger, swung his sword and separated Malchus’ ear from his head. A master swordsman he was not! To further add to the confusion, Jesus rebuked him as he reattached the ear. The disciples scattered as Jesus was led away. This is what follows: “Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance [KJV: ‘afar off’], as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end” (Matthew 26:57-58, ESV).

I’m a military man, so I can’t help myself — I think like a military guy. Jesus is our Pointman. How can I say that? Because He is the One who goes before us. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (I Peter 2:21). You can only follow someone if they are ahead of you, and Jesus is out in front, leading the way. Roger “took the hit” for his squad members by being out in front. No one else was wounded in the ambush they entered because he was out in front. Jesus took the hit for you and me in that He took the penalty for our sin so that we would not have to pay the price.

Now I want to talk about “following” the Pointman. You always want to keep the Pointman in sight, especially after dark. When you lose sight of him, you lose your sense of direction — you don’t know which way to go, and it is potentially dangerous to keep walking. In a sense, I think that’s what happened to Peter. He followed Jesus, but from a distance. He could see Him up there ahead, but he wasn’t close enough to draw strength from Him as he had done on other occasions. He wasn’t close enough for Jesus to keep him from sinking as He did on the Sea of Galilee.

Some of us want to follow Jesus from afar. Like Peter, we don’t want to get so close to Him that people think we’re His disciples. Jesus knows our weaknesses, just as He knew His disciples’ weaknesses. We see this as He enters the Garden. “And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’” (Matthew 26:40-41). What we fail to realize is that we are weak, and He is our source of strength. He wasn’t kidding when He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Look at what happened to Peter. He goes from following at a distance to warming himself at the enemy’s fire. When the test came, he crashed and burned. Staying close to our Pointman keeps us from losing our way as well as losing our courage. “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). It will keep you from warming yourself at the enemy’s fire. What say ye, Man of Valor?

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