Summary: According to Peter, Jesus is our Standard in life, our Substitute in death, and our Shepherd in heaven!

In His Steps

by Scott R. Bayles, preacher

Church of Christ


Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:21-25

In 1896, a man by the name of Charles M. Sheldon penned the words of what has become a classic, inspirational and best-selling novel, "In His Steps," in which Sheldon retells one of the serial sermon stories he used to read at Sunday evening gatherings. It is the story of a local church whose members pledged, for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question, "What would Jesus do if He were in my place?" Following Christ’s example brought great joy to this small-town congregation. It also brought misunderstanding, conflict and difficulty. It meant entire dedication of money, talent, career and influence to the cause of Christ.

One hundred years later, "In His Steps" swept the world like wildfire and became responsible for one of the most widely recognized acronyms in Christian history: WWJD (What would Jesus do?). The central concept behind the wildly popular fad and Sheldon’s original work is found in 1 Peter 2:21, where Peter says that Jesus left "an example for you to follow in His steps..."

Today, I am less concerned with what Jesus would do, and more concerned with what Jesus did do--and is still doing even today! Verse twenty-one is just part of an entire paragraph that Peter dedicates to what Jesus has done for all the world and is continuing to do for His beloved followers. Let’s read this incredible passage together.

1 Peter 2:21-25 (NASB-u)

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, [22] who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; [23] and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; [24] and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. [25] For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

What an encouraging passage for the readers of Peter’s letter. At first, Peter had opposed Christ’s suffering on the cross; but then he learned an important lesson, which he, in turn, uses to give confidence to us today. Peter encourages us by presenting three "pictures" of Jesus Christ. First, Peter shows us that Jesus is our...


... in life. As Charles Sheldon pointed out, Jesus left "an example for you to follow in His steps." Jesus is the standard by which every man and woman will be measured. All that Jesus did on earth, as recorded in the four Gospels, is a perfect example for us to follow. But He is especially our example in the way that He responded to suffering.

In spite of the fact that He "committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth," He suffered at the hands of the Jewish and Roman authorities. I wonder how we would have responded in the same circumstances! That Peter drew his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane suggests that, if he were in Christ’s place, he might fought rather than submit to the will of God.

Jesus proved that a person could be obedient to the will of God, be greatly loved by God, and still suffer unjustly. There is a shallow brand of popular theology today that claims that Christians will not suffer if they are in the will of God--that as long as we are good Christians, nothing bad happens to us. Those who promote such ideas have not spent much time meditating on the Cross. Yet, our Lord’s humiliation and submission were not an evidence of weakness, but of power.

Jesus could have summoned the armies of heaven to rescue him; "He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set Him free," but He choose to fulfill His destiny. His words to Pilate in John 18 are proof that He was in complete command of the situation. It was Pilate who was on trial, not Jesus! Jesus had committed Himself to the Father, and the Father always judges righteously.

No one living today is capable measuring up to the standard that Jesus set, since He was without sin. Sinners need a Savior, not a standard. But after a person is saved, he/she will want to "follow in His steps" and imitate the example of Christ. Charles Spurgeon has said:

A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ... we should be pictures of Christ... Oh! My brethren, there is nothing that can so advantage you, nothing can so prosper you, so assist you, so make you walk rapidly toward heaven, so keep your head upwards toward the sky, and your eyes radiant with glory, like the imitation of Jesus Christ! (Nelson 103)

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