Summary: Following in the steps of Christ means committing ourselves to the One who judges righteously.
I Peter 2:18-25 “Follow His Steps”
Intro—Today is the day we call Palm Sunday—This is the day that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem one week before His death on the cross, His burial and His resurrection. In Mark Chapter 11, beginning in verse 7, the Bible tells us that “they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying ’Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’”
Jesus received a royal welcome in Jerusalem—yet less than a week later, the same crowds that so welcomed Him by placing the palm leaves in the road would call for His crucifixion—Jesus walked a hard road in the final week of His life—Indeed, Jesus walked a hard road throughout His ministry—At various times, He was accused of being demon-possessed, of being crazy, of being a drunk and a lawbreaker and a blasphemer and politically subversive—none of which were true. And in the final week, He walked the road that led from the celebration of Palm Sunday to the Cross of Calvary.
So it is somewhat fitting that we come today to a passage of Scripture, I Peter 2:21, that instructs us to “follow His steps.” The verse, in full, says, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps.” This morning, I want to talk about what it means to follow in the steps of Christ—what it means to truly be His disciple in this world. It’s easy, sometimes, to think we are following His steps when in fact we are doing no more than running in place, so to speak...there goes Jesus, and here we are back here, running in place, saying, “I’m right behind ya’, Lord!” To avoid that, I want to begin by looking at what doesn’t constitute following His steps, so that we can more clearly see what following His steps actually means.
I. Following His steps doesn’t mean simply enduring every trial that comes along...The book of James, chapter 1, tells us that enduring of trials is good for us and helps us to grow and mature spiritually, but that doesn’t mean that enduring any and every trial constitutes following the steps of Jesus. Peter begins, in verse 18, by bringing up the master-servant relationship as an example of where following Christ’s steps may come into play, and he tells us that a servant should submit to his master, whether the master is good and gentle or harsh. Now, I’ve heard it said that what this passage is teaching is that part of following the Lord’s steps is being a good employee, and that’s what this passage is teaching, but I think that is an oversimplification...Peter is just giving his readers one example of where following the steps of Christ can occur...and he doesn’t mean that being a good employee is all there is to it...in fact, what follows here, in verses 19-25, can be applied to any relationship and it’s important not to think of these verses as just applying to the master-servant or employer-employee relationship.
So now, looking at verse 19, Peter is telling us that God finds it commendable if we endure certain trials—those that occur because of “conscience toward God” and cause us to suffer wrongfully. That word translated “commendable” or “acceptable” or “finds favor” in verses 19 and 20 of your Bibles is actually the word “charis” which in the Greek language means “grace.” Peter is saying that, if you suffer wrongfully for your faith God’s grace is shown forth in your actions. So what we might think of as enduring the everyday trials of life isn’t what Peter is talking about here.
II. Peter is also careful to tell us that following His steps does not mean suffering when we are the cause of the suffering—in verse 20, he says “what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?” There are times when we may feel we are suffering unfairly when in fact we are causing our own problems...As a young man, I used to manage restaurants, as most of you know...I had my own ideas about how restaurant management ought to be accomplished, and often my ideas didn’t jive with my employer’s...now, I would accomplish the assigned tasks, whatever they might be, but I would do it my own way...even if my employer wanted it done another way...I always argued that as long as it got done, it shouldn’t matter how it got done...more than once that attitude got me into hot water with the boss...now, I might feel put upon, I might feel I was being treated unfairly, I might think my boss was wrong, but I would be incorrect if I thought that taking my punishment for not doing things the way I was told to do them was following the steps of Christ. In order to follow the steps of Christ, Peter tells us we need to be blameless, not having brought the trials upon ourselves...he tells us, in verses 21 and 22, that in following the example of Christ, we need to understand that Christ “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.”