Friday, March 31, 2023

Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus

 For believers, April brings a resounding cry: He is risen!  Indeed!  This is the time when we remember Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross for us, for His death as payment before God for our sins, and then His resurrection as the first fruits of His redemptive work on our behalf.  The death and resurrection of Christ are two of the best attested events in ancient history.  And all four Gospel accounts bear witness to the fact that Jesus Christ died and was raised on the third day.  For us.


The death and resurrection of Christ is the bedrock of Christian faith.  And while believers are quick to profess belief in that truth, we are not always quick to remain grounded on that bedrock.  Not unlike the Israelites who quickly forgot the LORD’s work in parting the Red Sea as they grumbled in the wilderness, we often forget that our foundation is Christ and His death and resurrection.  We thank God for His sacrifice and praise Him for the power of the resurrection.  And then we go through our days hurried and distracted, looking for ways to feel good about ourselves apart from the Lord.


I think it might be helpful to consider that Good Friday and Easter are not events that are isolated from Christ’s entire time on earth as God Incarnate.  In Philippians 2, we read that in becoming incarnate, Jesus emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant.  He patiently grew through His childhood as a member of a family.  And even though He knew who He was when He spent a good bit of time in His Father’s house—the temple—as a twelve-year-old (Luke 2), He remained patient through almost two decades before beginning His public ministry.  Jesus submitted to baptism (Matthew 3) and then spent forty days in the wilderness fasting and being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4).  Christ’s life as God Incarnate was a series of choices that reflected His ongoing relationship with the Father as a day to day commitment.


Jesus was able to fulfill His mission on earth by living out His relationship with the Father on a day-to-day, choice-by-choice basis.  And we have a mission as well!  The Lord has created us for good works, prepared by God beforehand, so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).  If we are to walk in those good works and obey Christ as He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23), we must abide in Him as branches on a vine and follow Christ as we live our day-to-day lives on a choice-by-choice basis.  As we learn to do this, something amazing happens.  We become increasingly free from the appearance, performance, and status standards that the world would place on us.  We become less driven by self interest and more driven by the Holy Spirit.  We become better able to love.  We become more like Christ.  And we are able to experience the peace and joy that He offers.