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What the Bible says about Following in Christ's Footsteps
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 14:20

This exchange with Melchizedek, right before the Passover evening, occurred on the heels of Abram returning victorious from a fight against multiple kings and their armies. Protection and deliverance from enemies are conclusive themes in the biblical use of the title, “Most High.”

Christians should consider this in relation to their enemies. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our fight is not with the peoplearrayed against us, but with the principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness. These are the enemies who sow division within the church, who encourage offense to be given and taken, who fan the rumor mill, who stir the pot of circumstances, who work in the background to distract God's people from what truly matters.

The fiery darts of the wicked one fly and find their marks on any whose armor is deficient. These principalities often try to convince God's people that they are not good enough, that they are not worthy. They hold up sins as evidence, trying to blackmail Christians into giving up.

The Most High, though, blesses us with protection, if we ask for it. He blesses us with forgiveness, if we ask for it. Is there any righteous work God will not perform or any good thing He will not provide for His people?

Another enemy is the one we all face within: the carnal man, the old man, the flesh. This part of us will probably never completely die until we are incorruptible spirit beings, but we can hold it at bay through God's strength. All of our human efforts and setting of our wills would be useless without the Most High giving the victory.

In Romans 7, after Paul bewails the continual struggle he finds within himself, he asks, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (verse 24). He answers his own question: “I thank God—[He will deliver me] through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (verse 25). Once again, we see Christ, the Lamb, being provided as a blessing from the Most High as a means of deliverance.

The last enemy is death (I Corinthians 15:26). It will not be overcome until everything else has been overcome, and this does not happen until the resurrection from the dead. Our resurrection—our victory over death—is possible because our Captain went before us and blazed the trail (Hebrews 2:10). He is called the firstborn from the dead, showing that others will likewise rise from the dead. Thus, we see the Most High providing the life, death, and resurrection of His Son as a blessing to us so that we can follow in His footsteps, and even have the great enemy, death, delivered into our hands.

David C. Grabbe
Passover of the Most High God

Matthew 10:38

The cross of Christ can mean two different things: It can be a symbol of what the crucifixion produced (forgiveness, etc.), or it can represent Christ's own example of self-denial and losing His life for a greater purpose—a symbol of great personal cost.

Paul writes in I Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Consider, though, that many who claim to be Christian today do not consider the idea of forgiveness through crucifixion to be foolishness. They glory in what the cross produced. What is foolishness to them is His example of complete surrender, which we are to imitate. As a result, nominal Christianity has become tolerant of sin, increasingly human-centered, and less inclined to actions that might involve discomfort or inconvenience. Even conservative denominations will not follow Christ with regard to the seventh-day Sabbath. They appreciate what the cross of Christ produced, but balk at the cost to follow in His footsteps. Observing the fourth commandment as Jesus and the apostles did seems foolish to them!

But for those who are being saved, that message and example of total surrender—of carrying whatever is placed upon us until we die—is the power of God. Consider the power unleashed when Jesus surrendered completely: The Most High God not only raised Him back to life, but He has put all things under Him. There is no greater power.

This was Paul's solution for the division in Corinth—the example of the Creator being willing to die. Following that example of self-sacrifice is what could have allowed the Corinthians to be reconciled to each other. The carnal mind says that surrender is folly, because it creates a vulnerability or the possibility of loss. But the same carnal mind is blind to the vital reality that God is on His throne, overseeing the outcome—gladly using His power on our behalf if we will but trust Him with our lives.

The message of the cross is not merely about forgiveness of sins. It is also about our response to God after we have been forgiven. If we are to be worthy of the Creator who humbled Himself to die a shameful death, our response must likewise be one of self-denial, complete surrender, and reckoning ourselves as already dead to this present, evil age so that we might live for Him.

David C. Grabbe
What Does It Mean to Take Up the Cross?


 




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