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Follow After

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 ESV

A few weeks ago, my husband, Jon came home from work with a story to vent. Jon is a maintenance technician for a delivery warehouse. He explained that a regional engineer stopped by the facility to monitor the efficiency of the conveyors that assist with package delivery. He and a co-worker were asked to measure the conveyors' speed with a tachometer device after the engineer noticed it looked to be running fast. When Jon read the speed of the conveyer on the straight pathway, it actually read slowly. He was then asked to read at the corner of the conveyer which read at a slightly different speed. The engineer said that according to his knowledge, the speed of the conveyor should be the same throughout. Jon explained that since the corner had a cone shape instead of a cylinder like the straight pathway, it would require a slightly different RPM to match consistency. The engineer insisted that he knew what he was talking about. After taking matters into his own hands, he saw the evidence of Jon’s calculations and moved forward.

Have you ever been in a situation where everything lines up perfectly on paper but when you apply those same principles, it doesn’t quite work as expected? Well, this was exactly what happened here. The engineer had extensive education about the operation of the facility but lacked hands-on experience.

Jesus knew better than anyone that the principles given to us through the commandments would be more difficult to apply than to conceptualize. The commandments seem so simple on paper. Of course, I want to honor my mother and father! I have no reason to covet, I am happy that others have good things. Then again, it's not so easy when your parents say things that rub you the wrong way or your friend gets promoted while you have been in the same position for 5 years. Even Paul, the most influential writer in the bible struggled with this…

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Romans 7:18-19 ESV

We are all prone to this! Our efforts are clumsy at best because sin comes so naturally to us. Jesus knew this; He knew that we could not tie up our Christian walk neatly in a bow. He knew this would be an ongoing fight for goodness, that there would be constant roadblocks, miscalculations, and mistakes. He knew we needed help. Jesus got down in the dirt with us leaving no stone unturned, coming face to face with every struggle we experience so that He could meet our real needs.

Jesus had to pave the way for us. If He did not endure the temptations and very real struggles of this world for Himself, He would have no basis to tell us how to overcome. He knew that the best way to help us was to lead by example, which is why He asks us to follow Him.

And He said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 ESV

Our all-knowing God does not need qualifications. But by living a human life, He set Himself apart from any other “god” attempting to sway us to devotion. He did, and still does, walk with us. He does not ask us to do what He has not already done. He is acting as a true guide, imprinting the steps before us as we look to Him.

And He came out and went, as was His custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. And when He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46 ESV

In this scene, Jesus intentionally sought the Father and instructed the disciples to do the same. He did not want to be brutally tortured and killed, this was a heavy weight to carry, a terrifying fate. But even in the midst of His pleading for another way, He submitted His will to the Father and trusted His plan. This was not a neat and tidy prayer session. Jesus poured out His heart in agony, laying all that He had at the feet of the Father. It is in this secret place with the Father that we are strengthened. It is in this place where we see God more clearly and remember that he is the Almighty one, The King of Kings, The Creator of all things. He has all authority and perfect wisdom.

I hate to admit it, but most days I am just like the disciples. Many times, I find it easier to take a nap than to earnestly seek the Father in prayer. The whole point of Jesus dying for our sins was so we could have a restored relationship with God, so we could draw close to Him. Just as Jesus remained in the Father, we are to remain in Him. He gives us access to the source of life who has all strength, power, and self-control.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” – John 15:4

Jesus did not merely set an example so that we have the aim to do what He did. He did not only make us right with the Father but He also promised to remain in us. He gave us the gift of His power for everyday life, the Holy Spirit.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 ESV

When life is overwhelming and uncertain, He sees us, He knows where we are. He is waiting with His hand outstretched offering to guide our way. All we need to do is seek, surrender, and follow where He leads. Let’s continually encourage others to do the same. We will stumble and make mistakes, but the Holy Spirit will keep us from wandering astray. He will not let go of us. His strength will become our strength, His peace will become our peace, His kindness will become our kindness, and His wisdom will become our wisdom. He has taken the weight off of our shoulders and asked only that we cling closely to Him.

Remember to prioritize firsthand Bible reading every day, only the Word has the power to transform. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

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