MOMENTS OF TRUTH
“In His Steps”
15 September 2019
We learn from the apostle Peter in 1 Pet. 1:21-22, “For to this you were called, be-cause Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should walk in his steps: Who committed no sin, Nor was guile found in His mouth.”
The word here used for "example" comes from Greek elementary education. It describes the way Greek boys learned to write. The exercise tablet was usually a shallow box filled with soft wax. A student wrote with a sharp stylus that was flat on the opposite end for erasing so the wax could be repeatedly used. The writing master prepared the student's tablet by writing a line at the top to be reproduced by the student and by drawing parallel lines to keep the student's work straight. The master's line at the top was the "pattern" the boy must copy in his own hand in learning to write. Mature skill in handwriting required practice. Peter's words show that Jesus' suffering is not only redemptive, it is also an example that even slaves could imitate in suffering unjust treatment. Jesus as our example suggests four simple facts.
First, Jesus left us the perfect example. He is the perfect "writing copy" we must strive to reproduce in our own life. His sinless perfection is apparent from the couplet quoted from Isaiah 53:9, "Who committed no sin, Nor was guile found in his mouth." While Peter refers especially to Jesus' perfect example of patience in suffering, Isaiah spoke prophetically of the Lord's absolute freedom from sin, as other writers and the history of Jesus' life show. No other human ever lived without sin. Even the most righteous men are examples to others only as they follow Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). Jesus lived above sin because He had perfect self-control and because He had a perfect consciousness of God, being fully committed to Him in all things.
The figure changes in the second clause ("that you should follow his steps") to that of a guide. Jesus leads by his footprints. He is the perfect example in all that he did and for all we must do in the service of God. He is perfect because as the apostle John writes in 1 John 3:5, "in him there is no sin" and we know from Matthew 16:24, He is our example because he commands us to follow him.
Second, Jesus is our example of right conduct. Walking in his steps does not mean that we do so perfectly. We achieve perfection only by the grace and mercy of God through submission to His will (Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 3:21-26). Nor does it mean that we imitate Jesus in the things He did by virtue of His divine nature, as in receiving the homage of men. Moreover, following him does not require us to do all He did in the service of God. He lived as a Jew under the law of Moses, but we are free from the law (Rom. 7:4). Therefore, we cannot follow him in observing the precepts of Moses. The apostle Paul teaches concerning this in Galatians 5:1-4, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” How, then, do we follow the example of Jesus?
(a) We imitate his manner of life. This is seen in the specific example Peter gives. We do not suffer on the cross and we cannot die for the sins of others. But following His manner of suffering unjustly for doing right, we catch His spirit and return love for hate. In His relation to God, Jesus put Him first and served Him faithfully. In His relation to men, He fulfilled every moral precept of the law perfectly. He was loving, compassionate, and merciful. He was gentle, patient, and kind. He was humble, forgiving, and submissive to His Father's will. Paul; says in Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Jesus Christ." Jesus says in Matthew 11:29, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
(b) We follow Jesus in living by His word. Peter connects the example of Jesus to His role as "the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1 Pet. 2:25). The figurative use of "Shepherd" includes the idea of a teacher. "He will feed His flock like a shepherd" (Isa. 40:11). Jesus is not only our perfect example; He is also our perfect instructor. His teaching can no more be separated from His life than His example. We follow Him in both. The latter refers to the teaching He left us in the New Testament (Matt. 19:28; Heb. 2:1-4).
Third, Jesus intended for us to walk by his example. Remember the words of Peter in 1 Peter 1:21-22, "For to this were you called . . . that you should walk in his steps." Christians are called to God's service through the gospel for the purpose of imitating Jesus in their lives. Those who think Christianity consists of anything less than imitating His teaching and example have missed the point. Sinners must understand this when they become Christians. Paul says in romans 6:4, "Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." And Christians must never forget this commitment. For Jesus says in Revelation 2:10, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."
Fourth, Jesus' example is more than a perfect pattern. Following Him brings the blessings that make us perfect in Him. It is in following Him that we receive the benefits of his death. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:24, "... who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes we were healed." We are saved from the power and punishment of sin when we obey the gospel (Mk. 16:15,16). Our sins are washed away by the blood of Christ when we are baptized into spiritual union with him (Acts 22:16; Rom. 5:9; 6:3,4). It is at this point that we are freed from the dominion of sin. And the hope of being free from the eternal punishment that awaits the unrighteous is a great motivation for us to live as Paul admonishes in Titus 2:12 "teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age…" Jesus not only died to free us from the dominion of sin, but that we might "live for righteousness."
There is another blessing provided by the perfect example of Christ. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:25, "For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." The title "Shepherd" seems to identify Jesus with Ezekiel's prophecy in Ezekiel 34:23, "I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them my servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd." Jesus remains the perfect teacher and example for his people, providing them all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 2:1-4). "Overseer" is apparently used here in reference to Jesus' protective oversight of those who walk in his steps. Following the perfect example of Jesus gives us assurance of eternal life. The song “Footprints of Jesus” by Mary B. C. Slade and Asa B. Everett in 1871, is a wonderful song to help us remember what we are to do with His example, "Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling, Come, follow Me! And we see where They footsteps falling Lead us to Thee. Footprints of Jesus, That make the pathway glow; We will follow the steps of Jesus, Where'er they go." “If they lead through the temple holy, preaching the Word, Or in homes of the poor and lowly, Serving the Lord. Footprints of Jesus, That make the pathway glow; We will follow the steps of Jesus, Where'er they go." “Then at last when on high he sees us, Our journey done, We will rest where the steps of Jesus End at His throne. Footprints of Jesus, That make the pathway glow; We will follow the steps of Jesus, Where'er they go."
So, “In His Steps” we are to remember: First, Jesus left us the perfect example. He is the perfect "writing copy" we must strive to reproduce in our own life. Second, Jesus is our example of right conduct. Walking in his steps does not mean that we do so perfectly. (a) We imitate His manner of life. (b) We follow Jesus in living by His word. Third, Jesus intended for us to walk by His example. Remember the words of Peter in 1 Peter 1:21-22, "For to this were you called . . . that you should walk in his steps." Fourth, Jesus' example is more than a perfect pattern. Following Him brings the blessings that make us perfect in Him.
Let us do as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
Let everyone believe Jesus Christ as the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Let everyone hear the Word of God and have the faith described by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 11:1 and 6, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Let everyone do as Peter told those to do on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Let all confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God as Jesus explains in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” The apostle Paul says in Romans 10:9-10, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Let all follow the wonderful example of obedience found in Acts 8:36-39 where Philip has been teaching the Ethiopian eunuch, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" 37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” The apostle Paul helps us see the importance of baptism in Romans 6:4, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” When one has been baptized, their sins are washed away and they rise a new child of God, a Christian. This is where the “walk in newness of life” begins. This new beginning requires a lifetime of service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus says in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life.”
So, to close our lesson this morning we turn to 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Let us use the words of the song “Stepping In The Light” by Eliza J. Hewitt and William J. Kirkpatrick written in 1889 to remind us of our Walk with Christ:
“Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior, Trying to follow our Savior and King; Shaping our lives by His blessed example, Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring. How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, Stepping in the light, stepping in the light, How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, Led in paths of Light.” “Pressing more closely to Him who is leading, When we are tempted to turn from the way; Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us, Happy, how happy, our praises each day. How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, Stepping in the light, stepping in the light, How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, Led in paths of Light.” “Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior, Upward, still upward we’ll follow our Guide; When we shall see Him, “the King in His beauty,” Happy how happy, our place at His side. How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, Stepping in the light, stepping in the light, How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, Led in paths of Light.”
Let all of us remember, Jesus Christ is the "author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). An author is "one who leads." A finisher is one who is "a completer, finisher, one who brings any scheme or enterprise to its full and perfect consummation." The Hebrews writer tells us to "look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith."
We need to look to Jesus to be encouraged by His greatness and motivated by His example. Jesus came into this world and lived a perfect life. By looking to the example of Jesus we can be more pleasing unto God.
Too many Christians are following the examples of the world in conduct, in speech, in dress, and in manner of life. The child of God needs to take a long look at his life and see if he is following the example of Jesus or the example of ungodliness found in the world. Too many are following the world. The gospel is often hindered in areas because of the moral lives of members.
A great many people in the world want to look to Jesus for salvation, but they do not want to follow His example of how to live. By following Jesus, we will not only start on the road toward heaven, but we will finish the road and inherit an eternity with God.
The Psalmist says in Psalm 37, 23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in His way" Let us follow in His steps.