Following From A Distance

In Matthew 26:58 we find a poignant moment in the life of Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples. Peter was following Jesus from a distance. This verse provides a powerful reminder for how we, as Christians, often follow Jesus from a distance. Please read more.

During the crucifixion narratives, Peter, who had been so bold and confident in his faith, was now following Jesus at a distance. He may not have been too far behind Jesus physically, but spiritually, he was at a great distance. He denied even knowing Jesus. This is a situation that many of us can relate to. There are many reasons that we too follow Jesus at a distance.

Like Peter, we often find ourselves in situations where it is challenging to stand up for our faith. Perhaps we fear ridicule, rejection, or even persecution. In these moments, we might choose to follow Jesus at a distance, keeping our faith hidden and our commitment lukewarm. At other times we might follow Jesus at a distance as a result of complacency. We may become comfortable in our faith, attending church services, participating in religious activities, but not truly engaging with God on a deeper level. We may be physically present but spiritually distant, just like Peter in the courtyard.

In addition to Peter, the Bible provides other examples of following Jesus from a distance. Here are a few:

The rich young man found in Matthew 19:16-22 wanted to inherit eternal life, but when Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give to the poor, he went away sorrowful. He was willing to follow Jesus, but not close enough to give up his wealth.

Nicodemus, a Pharisee, initially came to Jesus at night, likely for fear of being seen by his peers. He was curious about Jesus and His teachings, but he followed from a distance due to his status. However, his faith seemed to grow over time, as he later defended Jesus among the Pharisees and helped prepare Jesus’ body for burial. (John 3:1-21; John 7:50-52; John 19:39-42)

In John 6:22-66 we see that the crowd followed Jesus because of the miracles He performed, particularly the feeding of the 5,000. However, when Jesus began teaching difficult truths, many in the crowd turned back and no longer followed Him.

All of these stories serve as a reminder that following Jesus requires more than just physical proximity; it requires a deep, personal commitment to living out His teachings in our daily lives. It challenges us to examine our own lives and ask ourselves if we are truly following Jesus, or if we are merely spectators, watching from a distance.

I can certainly attest to having periods in my life that I have not followed Jesus as closely as I should have. Have you found this to be true in your life?

We have many tools to help us walk closer to Jesus. We can use prayer, Bible study, the fellowship found in weekly Christian friendship groups, and service to others. We can put our faith in action by living it out in our daily lives. And of course, we can always seek spiritual guidance from a priest, minister, or spiritual counselor, especially if we begin to feel distant to our Lord.

I hope today’s message has served as a powerful reminder of the dangers of following Jesus from a distance. However, I also hope it reassures us of His unfailing love and grace, even in our moments of weakness. Despite Peter’s moment of weakness, Jesus did not abandon him. After His resurrection, Jesus sought Peter out, forgave him, reaffirmed His love for him, and made him the leader of His Church. This shows us that even when we follow at a distance, Jesus’ love for us remains steadfast.

Do you remember Bette Midler’s Grammy Award winning song From a Distance? The lyrics say, “God is watching us from a distance.”  That’s not true. God is never distant from us. Psalms 34:19 states, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. God is within us. Quite the opposite of what the song says, we are the one who are watching and following God from a distance. God never leaves us, and He never stops loving us, even when we are distant and fail to love Him as we should.

Each of us are on our own unique spiritual journey. It’s okay to have moments of doubt or fear. What’s important, however, is that we continue to strive to follow Jesus closely, despite the challenges we may face. God’s grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Moving from following Jesus at a distance to true Christian discipleship is a lifelong process of growing and being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are called to surrender, obedience, love, service, discipline, witness, and perseverance. We are called to a faith that is active, vibrant, and alive. Let’s recommit ourselves to follow Jesus more closely, knowing that should we falter, His love for us remains unchanging.

Dear Jesus, you are my Lord. Help me to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly day by day. Amen!


As always, I love to hear from you. You can email me by clicking here.

Please take a moment to share your thoughts about today’s message below.

Brian Pusateri
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  1. Jim Nolan on April 23, 2024 at 8:42 am

    Thanks Brian for a powerful reminder. It is so easy to gradually fall back to following from a distance without meaning to. Your message is powerful. Jim

    • Brian Pusateri on April 23, 2024 at 9:00 am


      Thanks for your post. Blessing to you!


      • Michael T Schaefer on April 24, 2024 at 11:53 am

        The call to reamain faithful & access where I am in my relationship with the Lord is always a powerful thing. Thanks for the help in my spiritual walk.
        God bless,
        Michael T.

  2. Bill Hartley on April 23, 2024 at 6:15 am

    Hey Brian….thanks for a really insightful look at our lives of discipleship. As for the song, you are “ spot on”. The lady is a phenomenal talent, but her song is totally off the mark. God Bless and Keep You Safe and Healthy!

    • Brian Pusateri on April 23, 2024 at 7:46 am

      Thanks for your post! God’s blessing to you as well.


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