Saturday, August 2, 2014

Walk in the footsteps of Jesus

Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Colossians 1:24 "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions."

The two scriptures above serve to summarize what was at the heart of God's calling on the life of the Apostle Paul.  From the moment he was encountered by the glorified Christ on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, Paul made it his life's ambition to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. (see Philippians 3:7-11) In Acts 21-26 we see a remarkable series of incidents in Paul's life, following his three missionary journeys wherein he mirrors the second half of Jesus' ministry up to the time of his crucifixion. For today's post we will briefly note those parallels and then conclude with some applications concerning what it means to walk in the foot steps of Jesus.

1. Both Jesus and Paul stated at Caesarea Philippi of their willingness to die in Jerusalem.

The Holy Spirit-directed statement of Peter made about Jesus being the Christ was uttered at Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16. Shortly after that confession Jesus made the following statement in Matthew 16:21 "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." Remarkably the Apostle Paul was in the same city in Acts 21. Paul made the following statement about his willingness to die in Jerusalem in Acts 21:13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Jesus of course would end up dying on the cross outside the city and Paul would die years later following his statement in a Roman dungeon. The point is though that Paul expressed his willingness to die for the cause of the advancement of the Gospel, which at its heart features the willing work of salvation by Jesus Christ.

2. Both make a major trip to the temple in Jerusalem 
As you follow Jesus' journey from Matthew 16, we see Him making his way towards Jerusalem and eventually winding his way up to the temple in Jerusalem in Matthew 21. Paul too journeyed to the temple in Jerusalem in Acts 21:18-25.  Both were the objects of plots on their life, both were being watched by their enemies and both had enemies who were members of the Jewish ruling council.

3. Both were arrested by the Jewish and Roman Authorities to be tried and falsely accused.
Jesus was arrested and taken into custody by the Roman authorities and tried as a criminal in unjust Jewish and Roman trials. Paul too was arrested by Romans in Acts 21:28-40 and stood trial before Jewish and Roman officials in Acts 22:1-26:32. Both were falsely accused. Both were soundly rejected by their enemies, with the crowds shouting about Jesus: "crucify Him!" in Matthew 27:22 and Paul's enemies shouting "away with him!" in Acts 21:36.

Applications for considering what it means to follow in Jesus' footsteps
Whenever you consider just these three parallels, especially noting how Paul ended up going through the same places and having similar experiences to Jesus, you understand how he literally did follow in Jesus' footsteps.  The question remains: what about you and me? What does it mean to follow in Jesus' footsteps today? Why is it important?

1. Walking in Jesus steps is a command. 
John 13:15  For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.

1 John 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 

2. Walking in Jesus steps will include suffering.
2 Timothy 3:12  Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

1 Peter 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,

3. Walking in Jesus steps is beneficial
John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

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