So they arrested him [Jesus] and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. Luke 22:54
My dad took me to the Indy 500 race track on the second Sunday of qualifications on year. This was the last day a driver could make it into the race. It was exciting. But the place to see the real action was in “Gasoline Alley.” This is where the mechanics worked on the cars. This is the place the drivers would go just to hang out. I wanted to go to Gasoline Alley so I could see my favorite driver, Mario Andretti. It was great to actually walk in Gasoline Alley, rub shoulders with the drivers and get Mario’s autograph.
Many years later I returned to the track as an adult. I was excited to once again walk through Gasoline Alley. I heard that it had been rebuilt with bigger and better garages for the cars. But along with the new facility came a large fence that kept the crowds at a distance. I could barely see the cars, let alone the drivers. There is something about distance that disconnects people from one another. When I was a kid I felt a part of Mario Andretti’s team. Coming back as an adult, I felt like an observer at best.
The night of Jesus’s arrest, Peter followed Jesus at a distance. He wanted to see Jesus, to observe what happened, but he didn’t want to be connected. What resulted was disastrous. Peter denied any knowledge of Jesus three times that night. The distance caused a complete separation. The difference between Jesus and Gasoline Alley is that Jesus still gives us full access to Him and His Kingdom. He doesn’t put up a fence. He doesn’t keep us out.
We are the ones who too often put distance between ourselves and Jesus. We build fences and sometimes even walls to keep Jesus at a “safe” distance. We want to see Him and accept His gift of eternal life and we may even want His autograph for everyone to see. But we don’t want to be given any responsibility. We are fans of Jesus. But we stop short of becoming devoted followers of Jesus. A fan is someone who watches the game. A fan may even keep track of the stats of the game. But a fan never plays in the game.
What Jesus is seeking is devoted players in the game. Jesus came to this earth as a player. He suited up and met people wherever He could find them. Jesus did not build fences or walls. Jesus carried a cross to Calvary where anyone who wanted could come and see Him. There were no fences, no obstacles. Just Jesus with outstretched arms of love for you and me. Are you a fan or a player? Do you want Jesus’s autograph or His mission? The choice is ours to be just a fan or a real player on His team.