FOLLOWING IN HIS STEPS
D Andrew Alexander
1 Peter 2: 21 (from “for Christ”)
John 13: 1-5, 12-15
Luke 10: 38-42
It was as weighing over some of the remarks that came into our reading yesterday that this thought came to me. We referred to various parts of John 13 but, in thinking about them, I was led on to this scripture in Peter’s epistle, “for Christ also has suffered for you, leaving you a model”. Often I have overlooked that section of scripture and taken more account of the following pieces about the Lord, of whom it says, “who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when reviled, reviled not again; when suffering, threatened not”, v 23. But I was just thinking of this matter of “leaving you a model”. It took my thoughts back to what we had in the reading last Thursday night, “The word … and my Spirit, remain among you”, Hag 2: 5. I was wondering whether we may be able to link the thought of this model with the word remaining among you.
As considering it, I challenged myself as to how much I know of this Model; how much can I tell the brethren about the thought? I feel challenged as I speak: “leaving you a model”. Dear brethren, let us consider it and think about it. I thought of it as being really attractive, “that ye should follow in his steps”. I would suggest that these are not giant steps. I would speak with reverence, but these are not giant steps. These would be steps that each of us can fit our feet into, to speak simply. I just commend the thought to the brethren. Think of Jacob and the way in which God worked with him; when he was younger he would have gone ahead with giant steps, to use an analogy, but I think as God worked with him in his heart and in his affections, he became measured in his steps. It could be said of him, when Esau was going on ahead of him, that he would follow at the pace of the little ones and of the cattle, Gen 33: 14. What an affecting thing to take account of, the way that God had worked with Jacob! But just think of the way that our Lord Jesus has left us a Model, that those steps are not too big for each one of us to take and to learn from.
I think perhaps something is set out in John 13 as to the Model, “leaving you a model”. We might say, understandably on account of the glory and the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of us feel very measured, but I think it is interesting in John 13 to take account that whilst John would emphasise the glory and the greatness of the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, something of the blessedness of His humanity comes out in that chapter in the way that He would take things up, the way in which it says, “lays aside his garments”. Think of the dignity with which the Lord would move among these persons, not in any official way, not in any way as being obligated to do things, but, underlying all He did was the motivation of love. It says here, “having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end”. Think of that, dear brethren, the love of Christ. It cannot be measured; it cannot be bounded; it is beyond measure; but to think of it and the care that He would have had for His own! Think of the suffering that He was going through at the time in His spirit! The intensity of what the Lord Jesus was experiencing impresses me. We go from chapter 13 through to chapter 19, a very compressed period of time, and yet these chapters bring out something of the intensity of what was entering into the Lord’s life, and to think of the way in which, in spite of all the pressures that were upon Him, His knowing that Judas was going to betray Him - it says here, “And during supper, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon, Iscariote” - He was going ahead to serve His own in an undistracted way!
It is interesting to take account of the Lord Jesus as going through John’s gospel, the way in which pressures and trials came in. You look at chapter 8 and the test that was brought in there, and the way in which the Lord Jesus met the matter of the woman taken in adultery impresses me. He met that matter, even though it was raised with the intention of distracting Him, but it is interesting to take account of the way in which He continued with His ministry. He was not distracted from it. Think of the way in which here in chapter 13 He takes account of His own. He knew all that was ahead of them, but He is going to set an example. The way that He did it is something for us to consider and to take account of, “leaving you a model that ye should follow in his steps”. I feel very tested in speaking about this chapter, dear brethren. I think we all have to say we are tested by it, searched by it, really searched by it, but this is something the Lord has left among us as a Model. May we be helped in relation to it!
I read in relation to Mary and Martha. It says of Martha that she was “troubled”. The Lord’s observation is interesting: “thou art careful and troubled about many things”. In my own experience, I know what it is to be “careful and troubled about many things”. There may be personal circumstances, household circumstances, circumstances in the meeting; all of which may test us and try us. They do me, and I get the impression that others would identify with me in this, but it says here, “but there is need of one, and Mary has chosen the good part”. It seems that she had made a conscious decision to sit at the feet of Jesus and to listen to His word, to learn from that One, the blessed Model, the One of whom Peter says, as we have read already, “for Christ also has suffered for you, leaving you a model that ye should follow in his steps”.
May we be helped in knowing what it is to follow in His steps, for His Name’s sake!
Word in meeting for ministry in Sunbury
12th September 2016