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REFLECTION: Unforgettable Steps

A Life we are called to follow…..

 

 

 

“…that ye should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21)

 

One date that remains significant in history is the 20th July 1969. It was on that day that US astronaut Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 space mission, became the first man to walk on the moon.

 

 

Years of very careful planning had preceded that particular space flight, and many scientists and other astronauts had co-operated to make the Apollo 11 mission possible. Excitement had mounted during the 1960s as all the world waited for the moment when man would reach the moon. Would the first person to walk on the moon be Russian or American, we all wondered. When the great day finally came, Neil Armstrong uttered those now-famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” to mark the memorable occasion.

 

Since that great achievement it seems, if anything, that space travel has played a less important part in this world’s history. There have been other notable successes in space, but none perhaps has been quite as outstanding as Apollo 11. As those exciting days of July 1969 are recalled, a great achievement for science and technology is remembered – as well as a moment of glory for one particular man. We have to admit, however, that our lives are not any different through the “one small step” that Neil Armstrong took.

 

Without in any way belittling the success of the Apollo 11 mission, I am reminded of some important steps taken by another that have had a profound effect upon the lives of many.

 

 

GREATER STEPS

About two thousand years ago the Lord Jesus Christ took a greater step than any astronaut. Leaving the splendour of heaven where countless angels served and praised Him, the Son of God came down to this planet. Just as Neil Armstrong had found the moon a very inhospitable place when compared to the earth, Christ soon encountered the ugliness of sin as He entered a world where people “walked in darkness” and lived “in the land of the shadow of death” (Isa.9:2). What a step He took! Charles Wesley’s statement is profound:

“Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man.”

Truly, the Incarnation was amazing! We are not thinking of man walking upon the moon – incredible as that was – but of God in human form walking upon earth!

 

Another great step must be considered too. Christ did not come simply to live upon earth – wonderful as that would have been. He came on a rescue mission in order to save lost mankind. Such was “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for [our] sakes He became poor, that [we] through His poverty might be rich” (2 Cor.8:9). Let us therefore consider briefly “His steps” upon earth.

 

 

GRACIOUS STEPS

One of the most beautiful descriptions of those steps taken by our Saviour is found in Philippians 2, where verses 6-11 appear to be part of an ancient Christian hymn. There we see how the man Christ Jesus “humbled Himself”. As we read through the Gospel records we may well marvel at the humility that marked His life. He could touch the leper from whom everyone else shrank in horror. He could gather the small children in His arms and bless them. Touched by the sorrow of a broken-hearted mother He could halt a funeral procession, speak tender words of compassion, and then raise her only son to life again. The lame, the blind, tax collectors and sinners (the outcasts of society) knew He would befriend them. Scores of distressed people found love, understanding, hope, and peace in Him. In His humility He experienced great poverty. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests,” He told one would-be follower, “but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head” (Lk.9:58).

 

But Philippians 2:8 takes us further than this in the path of humility. Christ Jesus “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (v.8). This was the reason for His coming to earth. It was not through His life upon earth as a poor man that we could be enriched eternally. For that, His death upon the cross was a vital necessity. In “His own self” He bore our sins “in His own body of the tree” (1 Pet.2:24). During the three hours of darkness no human eye could see what transpired. The holy, sinless Son of God experienced death in our place. He received the punishment for sin that we deserved. What a step this was!

 

The death of Christ upon the cross can have eternal significance for mankind. Yet it is an intensely personal matter, for we must come to God individually as repentant sinners if we are to receive His forgiveness and blessing. Before we can “follow His steps” (in the words of our text) we must begin by taking the initial step of trusting Him as our Saviour. Have you ever considered Calvary and said, “Yes, I believe it was for me; Jesus died in my place”? Have you ever prayed in all sincerity like the contrite tax collector in Luke 18:13, “God be merciful to me a sinner”? Have you ever gladly received Christ as Zacchaeus once did (Lk.19:6)? If you have taken that first step, you are now in the position of being able to “follow His steps”.

 

 

GUIDED STEPS

The Christian pathway is not an easy one. In Luke 9:23 the Lord Jesus described it in terms of denying self and taking up one’s cross daily. We must all tread the same path of humility that Jesus trod, putting the interests of others before our own. Peter reminds us that we are to display the same attitude that Christ displayed as He suffered. When insulted, we must not retaliate; and when we experience suffering we must not threaten revenge. Like the Lord Jesus we must trust our Heavenly Father continually and completely, leaving every situation in His hands. (See 1 Pet.2:23).

 

Shortly before His death on the cross, the Lord Jesus challenged His followers by reminding them, “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be” (Jn.12:26). Are we prepared to yield our lives to Him? Though following Him may be costly, we can depend upon the Holy Spirit to help us each day. The Lord Jesus also assures us that it will all be worthwhile. “If any man serve Me, him will My Father honour,” He promised (Jn.12:26b). What more can we want than this?

 

 

JUST ONE STEP

One step can be the difference between life and death. How many have taken one fatal step and lost their lives? An old hymn says, “Only a step to Jesus, then why not take it now?” It’s a step that is only possible because God, in Christ, took the first step and came to us in our desperate need.

 

What a step that was! The holy Son of God came to this earth and walked down here among men. The New Testament records tell us of those steps that He took and of the characteristics that marked His life of love. Humility, holiness, compassion, and sacrifice are clearly visible as we ponder that pathway that led the Lord Jesus to the cross.

 

But we must not forget that He calls His disciples to follow those steps and to be like their Master. In order to do that we must read the Bible each day and learn of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit can enable us to do what we could never do in our own strength – and that is to follow in His footsteps.

 

The words of John Ernest Bode’s hymn express the Christian’s ardent desire and make a very suitable prayer for each day:

 

Oh, let me see Thy footmarks,

And in them plant mine own:

My hope to follow duly

Is in Thy strength alone.

Oh, guide me, call me, draw me,

Uphold me to the end;

And then in heaven receive me,

My Saviour and my Friend.

 

 

“…that ye should follow His steps”

 (1 Peter 2:21)