Following in Jesus’ Steps
“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 . . .”
1 Peter 2:21
A good friend of ours used to ask his children, “Of all the people you know, who do you admire and respect?” When the daughter or son gave the answer he would then tell them to get to know that person and try to emulate how they live their lives. This is such good advice. While there is no one who is perfect in this world there are many who deserve our respect and it is not a bad idea to find out what makes them tick and try to follow in their steps.
A Perfect Example to Emulate
The apostle Peter offered similar advice to a group of persecuted Christians. But instead of asking them whom they admired, he instead pointed them to the perfect and worthy example of emulation. There is nothing better than following in Jesus' steps.
While on this earth Jesus experienced incredible suffering and patiently endured it for our sake. He had no sin of His own but willingly bore the punishment for our sin when He died on the cross. He did not seek revenge on His persecutors. Nor did He utter any threats. Instead He placed Himself into the hands of His Father who righteously judges all people.
Following in Jesus's Steps
Peter personally understood that those who follow Christ would also experience suffering. He empathized with these believers who were undergoing deep distress for the sake of the gospel. He reminded them that they had been called for this purpose. But they were not left on their own. Jesus had already gone through terrible suffering on their behalf and had left them an example of how to respond. By following in Jesus' steps they could successfully navigate suffering and bring God glory.
Their patient endurance through the pain would find favor with God. They would silence the ignorance of foolish men by doing what was right and obeying God’s will. Not only this, but their appropriate response to persecution might also be the conduit for winning others to faith in Christ as Savior. After all, Christ’s suffering had healed them and brought them back to God. So also their excellent behavior, despite the circumstances, would cause others to take notice and glorify God in response.
A Reason to Rejoice
Suffering is never pleasant, but it can’t be bypassed while we live on this earth. Peter tells us not to be surprised at the fiery ordeals we will face or consider them as something strange and unnatural. As we get to know Jesus and follow in His steps, we will be able to respond in a way that gives God glory. And in the process, no matter how difficult our circumstances, we will find a reason to rejoice.