“He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3b NIV)
A moment of truth. Jesus asked his disciples about the word on the street concerning his identity (“Who do people say that I am?”). They reported the rumors, that he was a prophet–recent or ancient–come back from the dead. Then he turned the question on them: “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered, and answered correctly: “You are the Messiah.” In other words, Peter was confessing Jesus as the promised deliverer and savior of the Jewish people. The One they had been waiting for. Perhaps they thought they were done. Now that they’d figured out who Jesus really was, maybe he would simply take over. Was it now just a matter of time until he kicked out the Roman armies occupying the Jews’ homeland? Then they could get on with living free, restored as a nation again!
Then comes the kicker:
“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:34-37 NIV)
We have our own version of this, don’t we? Calling on Jesus as Savior, we sometimes rush on to anticipation of a day when we are living free of the sin and brokenness that held us back, restored and made whole in heaven.
Now, as then, we are certainly saved by the grace of God in Christ. But also now, as then, we are saved into a way of life that bears witness to the life of Jesus, that bears witness to the love and power of God in Christ, and that challenges our imagination regarding what life is really all about. Jesus gives a new path on which to walk. In many ways it is a hard path. But it is also a rewarding path. Ultimately, it is a life-giving path.
There is something distinctively right about this path. And Jesus doesn’t leave us to walk it solo. He guides us along it, helping us walk it with him.
Prayer: Lord, you have saved me from my sin and are restoring your divine image within me. Lay out the right path before me today and give me the vision, energy, and courage to walk it as you guide me. Amen.