1. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas, He was in the garden of Gethsemane.
3. At this time, He rebuked Peter for using his sword in a futile attempt to save Him.
4. Christ could have called an innumerable number of angels to deliver Him but this wasn't the time for that.
5. It was time for Him to die.
6. After the Lord was arrested, the disciples fled (Matthew).
7. All of them initially fled but two of them had second thoughts. John and Peter followed Christ (John).
8. However, Peter followed "afar off" (Matthew).
1. Peter would be one whom we would least expect of this.
a. He was one of Christ's first disciples (John).
b. He had left all to follow the Lord (Luke.).
c. He boldly confessed Christ to be the Son of God (Matthew).
2. However, when Christ is arrested, Peter decides to follow at a "safe" distance.
3. Matthew tells us why Peter even followed at all; "to see the end" (Matthew).
a. Curiosity rather than love for the Lord motivated Him.
b. How miserable he was at this time.
4. Peter tries to lose himself in the crowd and in so doing, denies the Lord three times.
5. To Peter's credit, he repented with "bitter weeping" (Luke.).
6. Peter became a faithful apostle of our Lord. The first 12 chapters of Acts revolve mainly around him.
7. However, at another time, he began to follow "afar off" again.
b. Paul had to openly rebuke him.
8. Some valuable lessons from Peter:
a. One is never so strong in Christ as to be above temptation.
(1) 1 Corinthians 10:12. When we think we are strong enough, we are bound to fail.
(2) As long as we live, we will face temptations and, therefore, be susceptible to giving in to them (James).
b. One reveals spiritual weakness when he tries to hide his identity with Christ.
(1) It doesn't matter if it is for fear of harm, for financial gain, for popularity, or any other reason.
c. A Christian does not suddenly wake up one morning and decide to be unfaithful to Christ. He gets that way because at some point in the past he began following "afar off."
d. One who follows Christ afar off can become a faithful Christian once again.
B. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea.
1. Nicodemus is introduced in John 3.
a. He recognized that no on could do the works that Jesus did except He be from God (vv. 1-2).
b. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin Court (John).
c. He assisted in the burial of our Lord (John).
d. However, it appears that he was a disciple in secret (John).
2. Joseph of Arimathaea.
a. Described in all four gospel accounts as a counselor of the Jews.
b. He requested the body of Jesus to bury it.
c. He is described as:
(1) Jesus' disciple (Matthew).
(2) "Looking for the kingdom" (Mark).
(3) A good and righteous man who had not consented to their deed (Luke.).
d. However, John tells us that he was a disciple in secret (John).
3. Were they faithful or not?
4. I believe they were both.
a. First they were ashamed.
b. However, the cruel death of Christ caused them to come out in the open.
5. Many people were and are like these two (John).
C. An Unnamed Disciple (Matthew).
1. This man wanted to follow Christ but first wanted to bury his father.
2. Jesus tells him to "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead."
3. Jesus was trying to teach this man about priorities.
4. Christ simply must come first in all our lives. Even before family.
5. To put other things before Christ is to follow him "afar off."
A. There are really two classes of people in the Lord's church.
1. Those who are faithful and love to do God's work.
2. Those who follow afar off.
B. Those who follow afar off.
1. The Christian in general.
a. These are the ones who attend, most of the time, but are not moved to action by the teachings of God's Word.
b. These are the ones who are content to let others do all the work.
c. These are the ones who don't always show up when the church meets.
d. These are the ones who never read their Bible during the week.
e. These are also the ones who are the first to murmur and complain.
f. These are the ones who fool no one with their apparent religion.
a. It used to be that if a sign had "Church of Christ" over the door, one could count on a Scripture-filled sermon.
b. That day has long passed.
c. The time has come when preacher want to tickle people's ears (2 Timothy 4:3f).
d. Like those we read about in John 12:42-43; they want acceptance more than to do God's will.
1. Where do you fit in?
2. Are you a John or a Peter?
3. Please see Plan of Salvation.
-- Ralph Price, 2000 --