On the Theme “Walking With”: a Missions Theology. Part 3


The Road to Emmaus appearance, based on Luke 2...

The Road to Emmaus appearance, based on Luke 24:13-32, painted by Joseph von Führich, 1830. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This section looks at the metaphor of “Walking With” in the context of Christ and our role as a disciple.

In the Old Testament, Walking with God was understood (with the possible exception of Genesis 3) as metaphorical. However, in the New Testament, we have the story of Jesus. Jesus is described in terms of God with Us (“Immanuel”). The Incarnation, God enfleshed, shows a taste of restoration, of God literally walking with Man, akin to what was lost in Genesis 3. The idea of God with us emphasizes His immanence, providing balance to our understanding of His holiness and transcendence.

In three years of primary ministry, Jesus walked with His disciples through Judea, Samaria, Galilee, and bordering territories. In fact, the defining description of commitment to Christ wasn’t “born again,” “born of the Spirit” or “redeemed” or other terms that are mentioned on occasion in the Gospels. The defining description of commitment to Christ was “Follow Me.” The concept of “walking with” leaves open who, if anyone, leads. With Christ, the leader is clearly Christ, but the idea is that the following is done with Christ. When Peter was half-hearted in His commitment to Jesus, he was described as following at a distance (Matthew 28:58).

Commitment to Christ (having faith in Him, if you prefer) is seen in following Christ and being with Him in where He goes. Jesus called disciples to “follow Me” (Matthew 4:19, Matthew 8:22, John 21:19). These had a literal sense as well as a figurative sense. Other places, Jesus said to follow Him in a more figurative sense.

Jesus describes Himself not only as one who walks with us, leading us, but also as one who is the path or aiding in travel on the path.

John 14:6 says that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life… the one and only means to come (to be accepted) to God the Father. The term “way” is the word road or path. It is figuratively used. Jesus describes Himself as the one and only path that one can travel on to be with the Father. It reminds one of Matthew 7:13-14 where Jesus describes two roads with two gates, one is wide leading to destruction and one is narrow leading to life. Additionally, both the John 14 and Matthew 7 passages reminds one of John 10:1-11. In this, there is a dual metaphor. Jesus describes Himself within the context of shepherding as a gate that only some may enter through. Additionally, Jesus describes Himself as a shepherd, in which only His sheep (disciples) will recognize and follow.

An additional figurative role in terms of walking with is seen in John 8:12. The passage talks about being the light of the world. However, it goes on to point out that those who follow Him will never walk in darkness. The image seems to be of one who has a lantern. Walking with Him, and being led by Him, we have light to walk safely in the way we should go. One might note that in Psalm 119, the word of God is described as being a lamp and a light for our feet as we walk on the pathway of our life, and that John 1 describes Jesus as God’s Word, closing the circle.

Other verses and ideas can be delved into, but this seems like a good place to stop. The idea of Christ walking with us describes God being with us in a very literal way, but also describes commitment. He leads and we are called to follow Him… closely. Faith in Christ is seen in following Him closely. Christ is with us, He is also described as the path and entrance (only road and access) to God the Father and life. He also is the one who lights the path. One who does not follow Christ is on another path. That path does not lead to God and life. One on such a path is walking in figurative darkness with the ultimate destination of destruction. The idea of walking with, as it pertains to Christ, notes His closeness, His reliability, and His necessity.

The next post will look at “Walking With” in terms of Christians within the Community of Faith. From there, hopefully, the points will be brought together towards a missions theology.

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