In His Steps

In His Steps

Pastor Don Carpenter / General

Not From Around Here: The Complicated Life of a Sojourner / Discipleship; Follow Christ / 1 Peter 2:21–23

 This past week, Josie received a rather interesting story via the e-mail that I would like to paraphrase for you this morning. Unfortunately, I do not know the name of the author. However, I do know that it was written by one of the students who witnessed this experiential sermon in a small Christian college, somewhere in the western United States. It happened during an introductory course in Christian theology. The professor who taught this course was named Dr. Christianson.

Every student was required to take this course his or her freshman year, regardless of their major. Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the Gospel to his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take the course, and subsequently, Christianity seriously.

There was, however, one special student in his class. Steve had entered college with the intent of later going on to seminary to study for the ordained ministry, and so he took this course seriously. Steve was also popular among the student body. He was not only well liked, he was an imposing physical specimen. Even as a freshman, he was the starting center on the school football team.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to remain after class in order to talk with him. Dr. Christianson then asked Steve, “How many push-ups can you do?”

Steve responded, “I do about 200 every night.”

“Well, that pretty good, Steve,” Dr. Christianson responded. Then he asked “Do you think you could do 300?”

“I don’t know,” Steve answered. “I’ve never done 300 at a time.”

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it,” the professor asked.

Steve said, “Well… I think I can… Yeah, I can do it.” Dr. Christianson said, “Good. I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started the professor pulled out a huge box of donuts. Now, these weren’t the normal kind of donuts. They were the extra fancy, BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting. Everyone in the class became excited. It was Friday, the last class of the day, and it looked as though they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson’s class.

Dr. Christianson then went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?” “Yes,” she replied.

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”

“Sure,” Steve said, as he jumped down to the floor in front of his desk and did a quick ten. Then he returned to his seat. Dr. Christianson then put a donut on Cynthia’s desk, and went to the next person in the row and asked, “Joe, would you like a donut?”

Joe said “Yes.” And again, Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Joe can have a donut?” And again, Steve hit the floor and did a quick ten. And so it went, down the first row of students. Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.

Then Dr. Christianson started down the second row, and came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and an athlete in his own right. When Scott was asked if he wanted a donut, he responded by saying, “Well, can I do my own push-ups?” Dr. Christianson responded, “No. Steve has to do them.” Scott then said, “Then I don’t want one.”

Dr. Christianson shrugged his shoulders, turned to Steve, and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut that he doesn’t want?” And in obedience, Steve started to do ten push-ups. Scott then said, “Hey, I said I didn’t want one.”

Dr. Christianson retorted, “Look, this is my classroom, my class, and my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

By this time, Steve had begun to slow down. He just stayed on the floor between sets, because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see perspiration coming out around his brow. And as Dr. Christianson started down the third row, the students were beginning to get angry. “Jenny, do you want a donut?” he asked. And as sternly as she could, she said “No.” But again, Steve did ten for the donut that Jenny didn’t want.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were all beginning to say “No,” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get his push-ups done for each donut. A small pool of sweat formed on the floor from beneath his face. The class could clearly see that his arms and brow were red from the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some other students from other classes had wandered in and sat on the steps along the side wall of the classroom. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count, and realized that there were now 35 students in the room. He began to worry if Steve would be able to make it, because it was taking him much longer to complete each set.

When he came to the end of the last row, he asked Steve, “Do you think we should give a donut to these five, who are not members of our class? You realize that if we do, you will need to do ten push-ups for each one.

Steve picked up his head, his arms now visibly shaking from exhaustion, and said, “Give them a donut. But do I have to touch my nose to the floor on each push-up?” Dr. Christianson thought for a moment and said, “Well, they’re your push-ups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way you want.”

As Dr. Christianson went to those last few students, the tone in the voices had changed from defiance, and anger, to sadness and compassion – the next to last student very sadly uttering, “No, thank you.” Again, Dr. Christianson quietly asked “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten, very slow push-ups for Linda.

Then he stood before the last student, and asked, “Susan, do you want a donut?” With tears flowing down her face, she asked, “Dr. Christianson, why can’t I help him? Dr. Christianson responded, with tears of his own, “No, Steve has to do it alone. I have given him the task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut, whether they want it or not.

When I decided to have this party, I looked at my grade book. Steve is the only one with a perfect grade. Everyone else has either failed a class, skipped a class, or offered me inferior work. Steve shared with me that in football practice, when a player messes up, he has to do push-ups. I then told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the consequences for you, by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.

Then he added, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?” As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, his arms buckled beneath him, and he fell to the floor. Two students helped an exhausted Steve to a seat.

Dr. Christianson then turned to his class and said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus the Christ, who gave himself up for us all. Whether or not we choose to accept his gift to us, the price has been paid. Wouldn’t it be foolish and ungrateful, to leave it lying on your desk?”

As Christians, little Christs, we are called to emulate the selfless lifestyle of our Savior. The next time you feel taken advantage of or put upon, think that we are called to follow in His steps.

Christ is Our Example

1 Peter 1:21 KJV

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

“Hereunto” is literally “into this” namely, the endurance of wrongful sufferings. The divine call of God to a lost sinner is an effectual call into salvation, and an accompaniment of that salvation is suffering for righteousness’ sake, the natural result of the Christian’s contact with the people of the world and their reaction towards the Lord Jesus who is seen in the life of the saint.

1 Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 66.

Philippians 1:29 KJV

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

An example (??????????). Only here in the New Testament. A graphic word, meaning a copy set by writing-masters for their pupils. Some explain it as a copy of characters over which the student is to trace the lines.1

1 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 648.

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The term for “example” is not simply that of a good example that one is exhorted to copy, but the pattern letters that a school child must carefully trace if he or she will ever learn to write. As if to underline this point Peter adds that we are to “follow in his footsteps.” This call to follow Christ is a powerful image. M. Hengel, in commenting on Jesus’ use of the term “follow,” which is surely reflected by Peter, points out, “ ‘Following’ means in the first place unconditional sharing of the master’s destiny, which does not stop even at deprivation and suffering in the train of the master, and is possible only on the basis of complete trust on the part of the person who ‘follows’; he has placed his destiny and his future in his master’s hands.” Peter underlines this with “in his footsteps,” an expression that is found only here in the NT and that means the footprints of a human or the spoor of an animal (cf. Sir. 14:22; 50:29, applied to Wisdom). Thus we are like a child placing foot after foot into the prints of his father in the snow, following a sure trail broken for him. But this trail of Christ includes suffering, not for our sins (he has already suffered “on your behalf” in that respect), but as part of the pattern of life to which he has called us.1

1 Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 109–110.

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It is reported that St. Wenceslaus, King of Bohmia, one winters night, going to his devotions in the snow barefooted, his servant, who endeavoured to imitate his master’s piety, began to faint, through the inclemency of the weather, till the king commanded him to follow him, and to set his feet in the same footsteps which his feet should mark for him.

So does Jesus command us to mark His footsteps; for He has trodden down difficulties, and made the way easier and fit for our feet by the argument of His own example.

Christ Did No Sin

1 Peter 2:22 KJV

Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Hebrews 4:15 KJV

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

1 John 3:5 KJV

And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

The Greek word for “guile” is the same one found in 2:1, which verse please consult for full treatment of the word. The word speaks of craftiness or trickery. 

1 Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 67.

Christ Lived What He Preached

1 Peter 2:23 KJV

Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Matthew 5:43–45 KJV

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Greek word translated “revile,” Calvin defines as follows, “It is a harsher railing, which not only rebukes a man but also sharply bites him, and stamps him with open contumely. It is to wound a man with an accursed sting.” Thus was the tender heart of the Lord Jesus wounded by totally depraved human nature.1

1 Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 67–68.

Christ Was Totally Submitted to the Father’s Will.

1 Peter 2:23 KJV

Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

The word “committed” is the translation of a Greek word which means literally “to hand over.” It means “to deliver something to someone to keep, use, take care of, manage.” Our Lord kept on delivering over to God the Father both the revilers and their revilings as both kept on wounding His loving heart. It is for us to do the same thing when men revile us because of our Christian testimony.1

1 Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 68.

2 Timothy 1:12 KJV

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 1:08 PM June 10, 2020.

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