Jesus took many steps. The disciples and others in his entourage walked the terrain of ancient Israel often. Bible students and research analysts have estimated that Jesus walked approximately 21,525 miles in his lifetime, maybe 3,125 in his years of earthly ministry. How these were tabulated is somewhat of a mystery to me but may have been measurements of the daily activity recorded in the Gospels. Of a truth, we probably can't really know these statistics and don't really need to. I mean, Bible trivia is as abundant as the stars in the sky. And, in this context the steps of Jesus is more about the people, events, and practices that marked his earthly life rather the the distance he walked.
In study several years ago I noted five very definite steps that marked our Lord's interaction with others, his delicate moments handling controversy, and those times when some unique action identified his mission---you know, to do the will of his Father and finish his work. They are certainly inspiring. At the same time they are challenging, and even convicting. If I am to follow in his steps as noted by Simon Peter, these steps should characterize my personal walk as well. Briefly, they are---
The Step Down: The Step of Humility
Instead, he humbled himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of
Philippians 2: 7
The step down is total submission to Christ and demonstration of the servant mind and heart of Christ in the pursuit of kingdom mission. It is the humility of Christ.
The Step Up: The Step of Leadership
After Jesus was baptized he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly
opened for him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down
on him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is my blessed son; I take delight in
Matthew 3: 16-17
The step up for Christian leaders is the recognition of the high calling of Christ and acceptance of the spiritual leadership inherent in that calling. It is being a leader.
The Step Back: The Step of Perspective
Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger. When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, "The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her"
John 8: 6b-7
The step back occurs when we move away from an explosive situation so we can process the scene, evaluate what is actually happening, and determine a best course of action in response to the moment. It is gaining perspective.
The Step Aside: The Step of Discernment
Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
Luke 5: 16
The step aside is the discipline of discerning God's direction in making significant mission decisions and discerning spiritual direction.
The Step Away: The Step of Refreshment
He told them, Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while.
Mark 6: 31
The step away is the discipline of regularly walking away from ministry for renewal, refreshment, relaxation, rest, and recreation.
Several years ago Christians were challenged to ask WWJD, what would Jesus do?, in seeking to fulfill the mission entrusted to us. That is actually an academic, rhetorical means of fulfilling our life purpose. It wasn't a bad trend and did result in many believers clarifying difficult life situations. But, the real question is not what Jesus might do, but rather what did Jesus actually do? These above listed steps are the path Jesus took in real life circumstances. Seeking to emulate them is the stuff of following him and walking in his steps today.
You see, we are all spiritual leaders---pastors, teachers, church staff members, missionaries, professors, fathers, mothers, and the single Christian in the work place. And, these are the steps we should define and balance our lives.
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