April 19, 2017
At least 20 times in the Gospels, Jesus said, “Follow Me.” It was a familiar phrase to His friends who were with Him during the three years of His public ministry. It was heard in different ways – as an invitation, a command and at least one time as a scolding. The Apostle Peter heard it as a direct command in his last conversation with Jesus.
Peter had a problem with following. He was quick to speak with confidence about his commitment, but in his hour of testing, he caved in and denied he even knew Jesus. In a later conversation, he was concerned about another disciple’s future, but Jesus put the focus directly on Peter: “You must follow Me.” It sounds like, “Don’t be looking around at others – keep your eyes on Me.”
Eventually, Peter did understand what Jesus was talking about. In his letter, I Peter, he said that suffering may come to a follower of Jesus – not for doing something wrong but for being a friend of the Savior and doing what is right. He wrote, “This suffering is all part of what God has called you to” (I Peter 2:21). Then he added: “Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps.”
Peter went on to say: “He (Christ) never sinned, and He never deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when He was insulted. When He suffered, He did not threaten to get even. He left His case in the hands of God, Who always judges fairly.” Peter learned the necessary principle that following Jesus means just that – follow in His footsteps regardless of where they lead.
The footsteps of Jesus led to the cross, then out of the empty tomb on Resurrection Morning and finally back to heaven with a promise to return. Jesus’ life and attitude, as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, offer us the example of how to live, what He considers important and the design for usefulness while we are on Planet Earth.
Followers of Jesus are not left to wonder what it means to follow Jesus and to walk in His footsteps. The challenge is to decide if we will follow Him or look around at someone or something that takes us into a different set of footsteps. The decision will be made moment by moment, with the result of joy or heartache, depending on our choice.
Pastor Bill Ehmann