“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in His steps” (I Pet. 2:21). We often sing the following words: “Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling, Come follow Me! And we see where Thy footprints falling lead us to Thee. Footprints of Jesus that make the pathway glow; We will follow the steps of Jesus where’er they go.”
Jesus left us an example. Luke wrote of “all that Jesus began both to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1). Peter tells us that we are to follow His steps. Let us see where those footsteps lead.
First, they lead us through the waters of baptism. The first act of Jesus’ public work was His baptism at the hands of John (Mark 1:9-11). Admittedly, this was an exception to the rule of John’s baptism (Matt. 3:14-15). John’s converts were to confess their sins; his baptism was “for the remission of sins” (Matt. 3:6; Luke 3:3). Jesus had no sins to confess or to be remitted. His baptism was to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). According to the psalmist, “All God’s commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172). Thus Jesus was commanded by His Father to be baptized.
Those who follow the steps of Jesus must likewise go through the waters of baptism at the beginning of their new life (Rom. 6:1-4). We are baptized “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). This is because, like John’s converts we are guilty, whereas Jesus was not. See also Acts 22:16, Mark 16:16, and I Peter 3:21.
Second, the steps of Jesus will lead us through the wilderness of temptation. It was not accidental that Jesus had to walk through the wilderness of temptation immediately following His baptism (Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). Jesus successfully resisted and overcame all of satan’s temptations because He skillfully used the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Eph. 6:17; Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). Those who follow Jesus will find themselves walking through this wilderness also (James 1:13-14; Heb. 4:14-16; I Cor. 10:13).
Thirdly, Jesus’ steps lead to the house of worship. Luke tells us that this was His custom (Luke 4:16). Even though Jesus lived under the law of Moses, He kept that law so perfectly that even His enemies could find no sin in Him (John 8:46). Those who follow in His footsteps will be found regularly and joyfully in the house of worship. The Hebrew writer warns us to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). Christians need to adopt the attitude of David, who said, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1).
Fourth, Jesus’ steps will lead us into the fields of service. The shortest biography of Jesus given in the Scripture says simply, “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). He went to the sinners to save them; He went to the sick to heal them; He went to the lost to rescue them. He pictured Himself as one that “serveth” and not one sitting and being served (Luke 22:27). If we are going to follow His steps we must be willing to spend and be spent in the fields of service. In Matthew 20 the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a vineyard where men are sent to work. The Christian life is one of service, not of being served.
Fifth, no one can follow the footsteps of Jesus without going through the mountain of prayer. Jesus, the Son of God, with all of His great power and wisdom, spent a great deal of time in prayer. He certainly was the “Praying Christ” (Luke 6:12; Mark 1:35; Matt. 14:23-25). Those of us who are following are weak and frail creatures. Certainly we must follow His steps in this regard (Luke 18:1; Matt. 7:7-8).
Sixth, Jesus’ steps led Him through the garden of despair. One of His own chosen apostles was betraying Him, His disciples were asleep, and the cross was looming before Him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus experienced despair as real as anyone has ever faced. Read carefully Matthew 26:38-40 and Luke 22:39-44. Let all of us as Christians realize that when we face this garden we are not alone, even though friends and family may forsake us. He will always be there for us (Psalm 27:10; Heb. 13:5; II Tim. 4:16).
Space does not permit us to go further in our discussion, but let me just mention that the steps of Jesus also led Him to the cross of suffering, the valley of death, and finally to the throne of God! If we follow Him, we too will have to suffer (II Tim. 3:12), walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23), and if we follow Him all the way, we will be invited to sit on Jesus’ throne, even as He sits with the Father (Rev. 3:21). What more is there to say? All of us want to be seated with God above. If we follow His footsteps they will surely lead us there!