A THIRD REASON WHY PETER FAILED IS BECAUSE HE FOLLOWED AT A DISTANCE.
After Jesus was arrested in the garden, He was taken to the high priest's house. However, the text informs us that Peter "followed at a distance" (Luke 22:54). Peter's sympathies were with Christ, but he personally wanted to keep a safe distance. He didn't want to get too close and risk getting directly involved in the controversy surrounding Jesus.
Dear listeners, what if Peter had actually stayed right by Jesus' side and not "followed at a distance"? Would he have denied Christ? Of course not! After all, it would be pretty hard to deny knowing Jesus if you were arrested with Him! But, unfortunately, Peter tried to follow Christ from a distance that he thought was safe, and, as a result, he failed. Some today attempt the very same thing. They want to follow Jesus Christ from a "safe" distance, but they fail to understand that the only safe place to follow Christ is right beside Him! These individuals are interested in the church and the truth, but they would rather observe everything from a distance instead of getting involved personally. They want others to think of them as Christians, but they are reluctant to fully embrace the life of a Christian.
There are some who follow Christ to soothe their conscience, but they follow at a distance to save their "reputation." They don't want to suffer persecution for being a Christian. They don't want to be viewed as a religious fool or fanatic. They do not understand that it is impossible to follow Jesus at a distance without failing. Peter found that to be true and so have others. Following Christ is an all or nothing proposition. Jesus Himself declared in Luke 14:33 - "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." Some today want to forsake a little and then follow Jesus half-heartedly to make themselves feel better. Jesus says no! We must choose between Him and the world. We cannot successfully follow Jesus at a distance. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24). Some will try, but it cannot be done.
If Peter had followed closely to Christ, I am confident he wouldn't have failed on that night by denying His Lord. I am certain that if we follow Christ as closely as we possibly can, then we won't fail either. However, when we purposely distance ourselves from Him in any way, then sooner or later, we are certain to fail Him.
Tomorrow we will share a fourth and final reason why Peter failed.