Let Us Ever Walk as Jesus!
O Lord God, as I enter Your presence for worship this day, help me to become ever more like my Savior. Move me to trust You entirely. Give me Your words, so that they may guide my words and actions. Strengthen me as I face Your enemies and mine, knowing that while they may indeed be able to harm my body, they cannot harm my soul or deprive me of the salvation You have graciously bestowed upon me. Yes, help me to walk with Jesus and as Jesus. Amen.
Faith saves, while works do not. Yet, saving faith always produces good works, showing no partiality but treating all people with love and respect. Such a faith honors God and is profitable for all!
Jesus’ disciples correctly identified Him as the Christ! However, they failed to understand the need for His sufferings and death. Jesus explained that He alone would not suffer, but that all of His followers would have to be prepared to lose their lives!
Text: Isaiah 50:4-10
“The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away.
“I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. He is near who justifies Me; who will contend with Me? Let us stand together. Who is My adversary? Let him come near Me. Surely the Lord GOD will help Me; who is he who will condemn Me? Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; the moth will eat them up.
“Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely upon his God.”
In Christ Jesus, who entered this world in order to bring us back to God, dear fellow redeemed:
In that wonderful chapter of the Bible, Romans 8, the apostle Paul states that God predestined us “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (v. 29). In other words, it is God’s desire that we become like Jesus. We as human beings were created in the perfect image of God (cf. Genesis 1:26), and it is His will that we be restored to that image. His purpose, therefore, is that our relationship with Him be reestablished—He as our dear Father and we as His beloved children. He desires to be close to us, and His desire is that we be close to Him.
Our text today gives us insight into what it means to become like Jesus. The speaker in our text is the Son of God Himself, the pre-incarnate Jesus speaking some 700 years before He walked on this earth. He addresses His relationship with His heavenly Father—the Lord GOD, which is then to be a mirror of our own. Modifying slightly the title of the hymn we have just sung as our theme, I would encourage everyone here today: LET US EVER WALK AS JESUS! Let us, first of all, listen and speak as did Jesus! Let us, secondly, persevere and prevail as did Jesus! Let us, finally,trust in and rely upon the name of the LORD as did Jesus!
Yes, let us listen and speak as did Jesus! The first words of our text address that aspect of Jesus’ relationship with His heavenly Father: “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away.”
Think about Jesus—His life and His ministry for a few moments. Do these words not summarize Jesus’ approach to the Word of God? As a human child Jesus would have learned the Word of His heavenly Father through His parents, his step-father Joseph and his mother Mary. He would have attended Sabbath school and been instructed by the local rabbi in Nazareth. In the account of Jesus as a twelve year old in the temple in Jerusalem, we are told: “They (Mary and Joseph)found Him (Jesus) in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46-47). He Himself told His earthly parents already at that point: “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Jesus was already as a Child listening and then speaking with amazing insight.
When Jesus began to preach during His earthly ministry we are told: “The people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28b-29). The scribes would offer the many and varied opinions of the great rabbinical teachers as they discussed Mosaic Law. Jesus spoke plainly the truths of God found within the Holy Scriptures, and those truths had immediate and important effects upon His listeners!
Notice especially in our text the emphasis upon Jesus speaking “a word in season to him who is weary.” Jesus came with specific messages from His heavenly Father intended to comfort the souls of a suffering humanity. When Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth He read from this same book of Isaiah these words: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus then told His fellow villagers that He was fulfilling that prophecy in their midst at that time as He proclaimed a message of repentance, forgiveness, and faith.
My dear friends, we become like Jesus—we walk as Jesus when we too listen attentively to His Word, when we allow that Word to shape our thoughts and attitudes, and when we share that Word with others at the appropriate times and in appropriate ways. You children walk with Jesus as you enter your Sunday School classrooms and give your attention to your teachers, just as Jesus did at the Sabbath School. You adults do the same by attending the worship services and by participating in Bible Class. These are the forums that prepare you for your opportunities to witness to the truths of God and so to minister in the lives of those with whom you come into contact. When people are sick, when they are mourning the loss of a loved one, when they are celebrating success or troubled by failure—our God has words we can share that will uplift or heal, admonish or encourage. Yes, LET US EVER WALK AS JESUS! Let us listen and speak as did Jesus!
Let us persevere and prevail as did Jesus! The second portion of our text takes us deep into the humiliation of our Savior—His approach to and experience of suffering. We read: “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. He is near who justifies Me; who will contend with Me? Let us stand together. Who is My adversary? Let him come near Me. Surely the Lord GOD will help Me; who is he who will condemn Me? Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; the moth will eat them up.”
These words of Jesus take us right into the events of Good Friday—Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas and Annas, His treatment by the soldiers of Herod and Pontius Pilate—the ridicule and mockery, the scourging and crucifixion. Jesus submitted to it all with a grim determination to see it through, for it was the will of His heavenly Father and thereby He alone could redeem the souls of men. But what gave Him the strength to persevere—to accept the will of His heavenly Father and with submission to say: “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42)? Jesus expressed the reasons in our text. He had the absolute confidence that in the end He would not be “disgraced” or “ashamed” because the Lord GOD would help Him, and He knew with absolute certainty that those who opposed Him—Satan and his human minions would ultimately fail and their power would be destroyed! The writer to the Hebrews has captured the essence of Jesus’ situation and the example He has set for us with these words: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1c-2).
My dear friends, we will face difficult times in our lives as God’s children. Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 3:12-13: “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Listen, however, to the advice that Paul then goes on to share with us under those circumstances: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). As we face challenges in this life--and some will face greater challenges than others—think of the Christian pastor in Iran who is now facing the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity—we can with confidence persevere in our following of Jesus, for we know that the Lord GOD will be with us. We will ultimately prevail and those who oppose God and us will ultimately fail and experience the just judgment of God upon them. Yes, LET US EVER WALK AS JESUS! Let us persevere and prevail as did Jesus!
Let us, finally, trust in and rely upon the name of the LORD as did Jesus! Our text changes a bit at this point. Instead of Jesus commenting on His own relationship with His heavenly Father, He now turns and addresses us directly regarding our own relationship with God the Father. He first asks several questions: “Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light?” He then goes on with a final word of encouragement: “Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely upon his God.”
My dear friends, Jesus’ questions are a call for self-examination. Do we truly “fear the LORD”? By fear Jesus does not mean that we are scared of God, but rather whether or not we truly stand in awe of His almighty yet gracious presence. Do we stand with David in genuine amazement and ask: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4) Do we truly listen to, treasure, and obey His Word? Jesus would later say during His earthly ministry: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28). Are we experiencing that blessing, or are we for all practical purposes ignoring God’s Word to our peril? Remember the counsel of the Psalmist who asks, “How can a young man cleanse his way” and then answers his own question: “By taking heed according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9). Are we walking in light, or do we find ourselves so often stumbling about in the dark—seeking to please ourselves and satisfy our desires, only to repeatedly come up short? Let us ever walk as Jesus—in the light and as “the lights of the world” that God intends us to be (cf. Matthew 5:14-16).
This is possible as we are led by the Spirit to trust in the name of the LORD and to rely upon our Savior God! That miracle of God’s grace, which changes our present life and brings absolute certainty to us as we approach the future, occurs by the power of the Spirit working through His chosen means of grace—the Word and His Sacraments. The world views those means as just so much foolishness, but God’s foolishness is wiser than any claimed wisdom of men (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25). As we embrace those means of grace and the Spirit works through them in our hearts and lives, we will find that God’s will is being done in our lives—we will be conformed to the image of His Son. How blessed are we then! LET US EVER WALK AS JESUS! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting
Soli Gloria Deo!