January 21, 202

     There is a wonderful poem about the relationship between Jesus and the Christian called footprints it has inspired and encouraged many. Often seen this poem combined with a picture of footprints on a beach. Having spent some time on the beach a problem arises in my mind. If you try to follow footprints on the beach you can only go so far before the next wave removes all traces of the tracks you have been following. 

     I have been studying what is called the quest for the historical Jesus which seeks the footprints of Jesus in history. It wants to look behind the traditions and uncover the real Jesus. The problem faced by many who have tried to track Jesus in history is like the path on the beach. The trail is progressively eroded not by waves but by bias and imagination. Many have pointed out the tendency for scholars who pursue the historical Jesus to wind up chasing their tails. Repeatedly they have arrived at a description of Jesus that amounts to a self portrait. A good example is Albert Schweitzer who after pointing to this shortfall in others went and did the same thing.

     There is a key principle here that New Testament Christians need to consider. It’s not just scholars who have a tendency to imagine a Jesus who is like them. All Christians come to Jesus with biases which can erode the footprints they are trying to follow in their attempt to be like Jesus. 

     We need a better way than seeking footprints we need a path. Meaford is near the Niagara Escarpment and so we get many visitors who are hiking the Bruce trail which follows it.  The trail is not hard to follow because it has clearly marked signs guiding the way. This is what we need if we are going to follow Jesus. A clearly marked trail that will show us the way and this is exactly what Jesus has provided. In John 16:12-13 He promised his apostles that he would send the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth. Those same apostles wrote down the truths that Jesus wanted communicated so that they could be preserved for all who wanted to follow him (I Cor 2:6-16; Eph 3:3-5; II Pet 1:20-21). So in seeking to follow Jesus we are not left with footprints in the sand but a clearly marked trail.

     This trail is trustworthy (despite what you may hear from the Jesus Seminar) and assured. This should provide the Christian with great confidence. However the trail is not easy. In fact Jesus warned that following him costs (Luke 9:23-27;57-62). He warned that the trail is narrow and not many will find it (Matt 7:13-14). However hard the going may be though it is made easy by the fact that we know Jesus has gone this way before us (John 16:32). We also know the end of the trial is eternal life with the Lord we’ve been following (Jn 14:1-6). 

     My prayer for myself and Christ’s church is that we would commit ourselves to the trail left by our Lord. That we would go where he leads in this life so that as many as possible will find the trail and walk it with us. I would urge you to join me in this prayer and on this trail.

~ Kevin Cleary