Imitate Jesus

, by Christopher D. Hudson


Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 


The apostle Paul boldly encouraged believers to imitate him because he was imitating Christ. He said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

According to Scripture, imitating Jesus is the ultimate aim of everyone who believes in him. In its simplest form, imitating Jesus is a three-step process.

1. Study the original.
It’s been said that U.S. Treasury agents learn to spot counterfeit money by carefully studying the real thing. Likewise, the more closely you study Jesus—his words, his priorities, his boldness, his commitment, his love, his interaction with hurting and broken people—the easier it will be for you to identify areas in your life where you can become more like him.

2. Try and try again.
Admittedly, Jesus set the bar impossibly high. He lived a sinless life, after all. Decidedly imperfect people trying to imitate a perfect Savior might seem like an exercise in futility. But it need not be.

The apostle Paul was an accomplice to the murder of Stephen, the first known Christian martyr. In Paul’s letters, he freely shares his struggle with sinful habits—a struggle he occasionally lost. Paul was the first to admit his imperfection. Yet he set himself up as an example to follow.

Paul understood that imitating Jesus is an ongoing pursuit. When you stumble, you confess your failure, learn from it, and move on. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t disqualify yourself as an imitator of Jesus. Don’t become paralyzed by the enormity of the task.

Instead, draw wisdom from your failures. Lean heavily on God’s forgiveness and grace. Resolve to try again and again—with each decision you make, each interaction you have, and every thought you entertain. Make it your goal to live in a way that helps others see Jesus.

3. Follow Paul’s lead.
After you’ve spent time studying Jesus’ example, gained experience as a follower of Christ, learned hard lessons about the ups and downs of imitating Jesus, and established yourself as a mature Christian, you can make the same offer that Paul made in 1 Corinthians11:1. You can offer yourself as a role model to young Christians looking for direction. 

This blog post has been adapted from Walking with Jesus, a special-edition magazine that is available wherever magazines are sold.

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The Hope of the Resurrection

, by Christopher D. Hudson


“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”


The angels declared, “He has risen!”

The explanation for the surprising vacancy at Jesus’ grave site is found in these three words (see Luke 24:6). The women who had come to tend to Jesus’ body two days after it was laid in a cave were distraught to find the tomb empty. Angelic messengers assured the women that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. No one had stolen Jesus’ corpse; in fact, there was no corpse.

Jesus was alive.

Easter Sunday is announced with the words “He has risen!” The darkness of Good Friday is lifted. Sadness and grief are abated. The power of death is broken.

“He has risen!”

Christianity rests upon these three words. According to Scripture, two enemies stood between God and his creation: sin and death. Jesus defeated sin by living a blameless life before God and offering himself as a sacrifice to pay for sin.

He defeated death by giving up his life on the cross, going into the grave as a corpse, and emerging two days later as a living, breathing Savior—a bridge between God and humanity.

The apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of Jesus’ resurrection in stark terms:

If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. . . . And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17–19)

The good news—the best news of all, in fact—is that the events of Easter render such dire possibilities moot. Jesus has been raised from the dead. And as another New Testament writer observed, Jesus’ resurrection makes possible the resurrection of everyone who follows him:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3–4)

This blog post has been adapted from Walking with Jesus, a special-edition magazine that is now available on store shelves. 
 

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The Magnitude of Jesus' Death

, by Christopher D. Hudson


To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. . . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 



Never before or since has so much been accomplished in a six-hour span. According to Mark’s Gospel (15:25, 34), Jesus’ ordeal on the cross lasted an agonizing 360 minutes.

For six hours, history and eternity hung in the balance. The fate of humanity rested on the bloodied and broken shoulders of the “king of the Jews” (Matthew 27:29), as Jesus was mockingly (yet presciently) labeled by his executors. As the final minutes of his life ticked away, Jesus fulfilled his destiny.

Of every human who ever drew breath on the planet, Jesus is the only One who did not deserve the fate that met him. He alone did not deserve to die. Jesus was innocent of wrongdoing; he was righteous in God’s eyes, making him the only One who could pay the price for humanity’s sin. Only a perfect sacrifice would do.

For six hours, Jesus carried the weight of humanity’s sin—past, present, and future. The apostle Paul taught that Jesus effectively became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). According to Christian theologians, Jesus bore the punishment we deserved in order to rescue humanity from the consequences of sin.

The agony Jesus experienced defies description. The physical effects of crucifixion—wrists and feet impaled by spikes, bones shattered, and organs traumatized— are well documented. Beyond the physical pain, though, Jesus experienced unprecedented emotional and spiritual agony. In the midst of his suffering, he felt utterly abandoned—by most of his followers and by God himself. Jesus experienced a sense of aloneness that went to his very core.

During that six-hour span, Jesus overturned sin and death. He righted every wrong since the beginning of history. He bridged the gulf between God and his creation. He blazed a path to eternal life for everyone who follows him.
  
This blog post has been adapted from the special-edition magazine Walking with Jesus, which is now available in stores wherever magazines are sold.

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