Summary: We are called to follow in the often bloody footprints of Jesus Christ. What does this mean? How can I do it? What does it take?
May 5, 2003
"Footprints" 1 Peter 2:13-25
Pastor Jon MacKinney
Footprints are not a very common occurrence in Arizona. Frankly, in certain parts, like our part, there’s not enough rain to make any mud to make any footprints. If we do see or anything else like watery footprints we might leave on a patio disappear in like three seconds, the time it takes your hair to dry getting out of the shower. So, it’s not a very common thing. But when we do find footprints they’re unmistakable evidence that someone has passed this way before. Sometimes we follow footprints thinking they’re going somewhere we want to go. But, if we saw a set of footprints that were going along and all of a sudden disappeared over a cliff, we might decide not to follow those footprints anymore. Or, we might see a set of footprints that look good until all of a sudden they end and there’s kind of a bloody patch on the ground and then drag marks going off, along with the footprints of a large cat. We might decide that we’d better run.
Footprints are important. And this passage that we have before us this morning has a powerful statement in verse 21, "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps." We’ve got a line of footprints to follow. But, we see two things in that verse that cause us a little concern. One of them is the word "this." "To this you were called." Now what is that "this" that we’re called to follow because those are the footprints. To this, to this line of footprints you were called. And then the other word that gives us little shudder of fear is this word "suffered." "To this you were called because Christ suffered for you leaving you an example." If you ever wonder if suffering is part of the Christian life, read 1 Peter 2:21. Maybe even crochet it into a little wall-hanging. Because suffering is not just for the Christians of Pakistan or Indonesia or South America or the Communist countries. Suffering is something to which we are called.
As we have seen earlier in this letter, that Peter wrote to the believers in northern Turkey (what is now Turkey), Christians have a unique set of values that set them apart from the world. And one of these values is the acceptance of something like suffering. There is no doubt that if we follow the footprints of Jesus, they will lead us into places where our flesh does not want to go. They will lead us to do things, to say things, to treat people in a way that our flesh is going to be resistant to. "That’s going to be too costly for me." "I don’t want to do that. That’s going to cause me to be viewed in a way that I don’t want to be viewed." The flesh will always resist following in the footprints of Jesus Christ.
The life of Jesus Christ was characterized by one thing – an unquestioning faith in His Father. Whatever God called Jesus to do, He did. Whatever God told Him to say, He said. Whatever person God told Him to minister to, He ministered to. Whatever it cost, whatever the response, Jesus did it. That was the unquestioning characteristic of His life. And why did He have faith? Because He trusted. He trusted Him.
Yesterday afternoon, we got a call from Tom. He was riding his mountain bike in South Mountain Park. Now, South Mountain Park as a typical Arizona desert park is nothing but rocks. Now, riding your mountain bike in South Mountain Park is nothing but riding on rocks. And the trail that Tom chose for the first time to try was the National Trail. The National Trail is a great hiking trail for people who want to use both their hands and their feet. Well, I took one look at the National Trail when I was riding on my bike and said, "Let’s stay on the desert flats." But, Tom decided to ride on the National Trail and he did what they call in mountain biking an endo, which is what it sounds like – you go over the "endo" your bike. Or in his case he went over the front of his bike, so maybe you’d call it a "fronto." But, anyway, he had his helmet on which is a good thing, but his face met the rocks and he had what they also call road rash, which is a pretty good image. And in the middle of his road rash, a seven-stitch cut. So his mother, being the more careful of us (I thought, I think you’re kind of missing a chunk of meat there, but that’s the way it is.) But, his mother, being more careful said let’s take him to the emergency room and see. And sure enough, it was a cut you could push together and stitch up. The reason I say this long thing, is there was a trust factor with Tom lying on that gurney in the laceration room there. First, the doctor brings out this needle and says, "I’m going to give you this shot." And I think they do this on purpose. First he puts in this big honkin’ needle in (about 5 feet long and that big around). And he fills up the syringe with it, and says, "How do you like this?" I said, "uggh." I looked like, "You’re going to put that in his face?!" Then, he took that big needle out and put in a smaller one and we all breathed a sigh of relief. So, it was a trust factor. Then of course he gives Tom the shot and tells him it’s going to hurt and does the stitches and everything. There was a trust factor in that young man, who as many of you know, has been through a lot worse than stitches in your face. He just kind of laid there letting this guy drill him with the local anesthetic and stitch him up. He just laid there quietly. Now, there are other people in the pediatric emergency room there at Desert Sam that weren’t being so cooperative. Now, Tom is seventeen, so he is at the top of the pediatric scale. But there were some other children who were in there who were at the bottom of the scale age-wise. And they were telling everybody that they weren’t trusting anything. You could hear them from all the way across the room, they were screaming because they’re kids. They haven’t learned yet that this doctor (and this is by the way why the doctors let the nurses give the shots, they want the kid to learn to trust them. They were manifesting distrust because they just haven’t learned yet that the doctors are doing all this stuff for their own good.