Posted by: rcottrill | June 30, 2014

Footsteps of Jesus

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Words: Mary Bridges Canedy Slade (b. Jan. 18, 1826; d. April. 15, 1882)
Music: Asa Brooks Everett (b. Sept. ___, 1828; d. Sept. ___, 1885)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This 1871 hymn is called Footsteps of Jesus in the Cyber Hymnal. This does seem to be the most used title over the years, though several books I’ve seen use “Footprints of Jesus,” a phrase taken from the refrain.

CH-1) Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.

Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.

The original song had seven stanzas, but only four are commonly used today (CH-1, 2, 3 and 7). The others may be of interest. Two of them speak of Gethsemane and Calvary, indicating that the summons to follow Christ will lead at times to suffering.

CH-4) Though, dear Lord, in Thy pathway keeping,
We follow Thee;
Through the gloom of that place of weeping,

CH-5) If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.

CH-6, the other stanza often missed, provides a concluding pair with CH-7. It pictures the joys of heaven in the fellowship of the saints, and in worship around the throne of God.

CH-6) By and by, through the shining portals,
Turning our feet,
We shall walk, with the glad immortals,
Heav’n’s golden street.

CH-7) Then at last when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.

The call to “follow Me” is found many times on the lips of the Lord Jesus, in the Gospels. One of the things we discover is that following Christ is a personal and individual experience. Yes, there are common elements. But it’s evident that the Lord may lead one on a path whose particulars are different from another’s. It was Peter’s curiosity about John’s future that brought this rebuke from the Lord: “What is that to you? You follow Me” (Jn. 21:22).

But having said this, we can also see in the Gospel record many of the common components in following the Saviour.

1) “Follow Me” is a call to discipleship and learning from the master Teacher. That was a major purpose of the calling of the twelve, who heard His teaching for about three years. Among them was Matthew, or Levi. “He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me’” (Lk. 5:27).

2) “Follow Me” is a call to service for the Lord. “Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men’” (Mk. 1:17). “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me” (Jn. 12:26).

3) “Follow Me” is a call to experience the Lord’s protection and provision as we trust Him as our Shepherd. “”My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn. 10:27).

4) “Follow Me” is a call to identify with Christ, and to follow the path of sacrifice. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23).

5) “Follow Me” is a call to adopt spiritual and eternal values and priorities. To the rich man who seems to have made a god of his wealth, Jesus said, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Lk. 18:22). Another tried to excuse himself from serving the Lord, because of other duties: “He said to [him], ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God’” (Lk. 9:59-60).

6) “Follow Me” leads on past this life to our heavenly home. In words that speak either of death, or of life beyond the grave–perhaps both–Jesus had this exchange with Peter. “Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward’” (Jn. 13:36).

1) What are some of the things one who is a follower of Christ will be doing?

2) What are some things a follower of Christ will avoid doing?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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