So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore.
Hebrews 13:12-13 NLT
It took me years to discover I needed to journey to where Jesus was. I couldn’t assume that where I was would be the place that Jesus was leading me to. Jesus’ constant invitation throughout the gospel is, “Follow me!”
Those who held power ordered that Jesus was removed beyond the city wall. They ordered for Christ’s painful and death alongside criminals in a rubbish dump. The authorities assumed that Jesus’ message would be as forgettable as the garbage at Calvary. But Jesus could not be so easily discarded. He emerged from among the rubbish. He demonstrated that the least may prove to be the most enduring. The great message of the gospel of Christ is that the least is in fact the greatest, the weakest is the strongest (see Matthew 11:25-26; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
My learning has been to recognise that I must face my own weakness if I am to discover the strength that is mine in God.
The city is a picture of security, provision and opportunity. In leaving the city I remove myself outside its protections and provisions. I can no longer call on its many convenient benefits and must discover how to survive. Only beyond the city can I find the life of God, for God is so often discovered at the centre of my most acute fears and anxieties. Yet, only as I choose to place my confidence in God, rather than take steps to shore up my life against such fears and anxieties, can I discover the reality of the truth for which Jesus gave his life.
I failed to find the presence of God where I imagined it lay. It was not in the platforms at events that I occupied or the successes I chalked up. Instead it was in frailties, those points of tension which I sought to disguise out of shame. Christ failed to recognise my achievements, but embraced me at the points of what I saw as my failures.
How are you stepping outside to follow in Christ’s footsteps?
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, I take up your cross and follow you.