Jesus endured more pain and agony in His death than any other human being. His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: (Isaiah 52:14). This was the punishment He took on for every sin ever committed, before or since. After being savagely scourged, then having a crown of thorns placed on His head, He was beaten, mocked, and spit on by a violent mob as He was forced to carry His cross. Matthew 26:67-68: Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? No doubt as His weakened and mutilated body struggled under the weight, He left a trail of bloody footprints through the streets of Jerusalem on the path to Calvary.
And we are to follow Him there. Matthew 16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
While the children of Israel wandered through the wilderness for 40 years, the Lord had a divine protection over them so great that even their shoes and clothes did not wear out. Deuteronomy 29:5: And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot. How great would it be to wear shoes that never wore out! Newly purchased shoes have a wonderful feeling, a cushioned heel support that makes the wearer feel like they’re walking on clouds. Would that that new shoe feeling would last, but before long that heel support will go flat and the shoes will become worn out, dirty shells of their former selves.
We wear the shoes of Jesus. Just like the shoes worn by the Israelites in the wilderness, they will never wear out. Walking His path gives one a spring in their step, a certain happiness and joy that can never be silenced. Jesus gives us shoes that will stay new during our entire journey down His path. Matthew 7:14: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. As we walk through this wilderness on the way to Heaven, He will lower mountains and raise valleys before our feet. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: (Isaiah 40:4).
After the 40 years, the children of Israel finally began conquering the Promised Land. First they utterly destroyed Jericho, then Ai. The Canaanites, realizing they were being overrun, plotted a massive counterattack. But one small group of cities, led by the Gibeonites, just North of Jerusalem, came up with a different scheme to save themselves. Joshua 9:3: And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, they did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors. Disguising themselves as travelers from a faraway land, the Gibeonites approached Joshua and tricked him into signing a peace treaty with them. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us (verse 6). When Joshua questioned who they were, they wouldn’t tell him, only pointing to their old shoes, worn clothing, and moldy bread as proof of the long journey they’d taken. Verses 12-13: This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy: And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.
We have the bread of life: Jesus. He is like a warm fresh new loaf every morning, straight out of the oven. Our love for Him is renewed every time we dine with Him. John 6:35: And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But how many Christians trade this living bread for the moldy bread the world offers? Oh sure, the devil will disguise it to look pure, but once you taste of his bread of sin, you will spit it out in disgust.
Just like so many Christians are fooled by the devil’s deceit today, the Israelites fell for the moldy bread provided by the Gibeonites. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them (Joshua 9:15). God had ordered the children of Israel to completely wipe out all of the Canaanite cities and their sinful people, but because they listened to the enemy’s lies, they were tricked into signing a treaty that would force them to disobey Him.
God’s people today are fooled by the devil’s disguises. Sometimes the shoes he offers look brand new and appealing, and Christians will trade up theirs for his. But once they put on his shoes, it is quickly revealed how old and worn they are. Unlike the shoes of Jesus, they don’t have the right heel support. They are filthy and disgusting, tainting our feet with sin as soon and bringing us unhappily down the world’s trail of doom.
The shoes of Jesus are created for each individual following him. The shoes of the devil are old and recycled, each one worn by a million other people on their paths straight to Hell. And as each traveler slides over the cliff into eternal darkness, Satan takes off their shoes to recycle to the next sucker he deceived into leaving God and following him.
We must walk after Jesus, following in the footprints of blood left by His wounded feet. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour (John 12:26). But following Him doesn’t just mean walking behind Him; it means being as much like Him as possible, so that the world will see Him in us. We must walk as He walked, talk as He talked, think as He thought, and live as He lived. 1 Thessalonians 1:6: And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.
Every step we take on this journey must be in perfect alignment with the prints He left for us. Every time my foot lands on the ground, I want it to be completely within the blood-stained ground. Even a single toe print cannot be out of alignment, because then the next step will be slightly further out of alignment, then the next step, even more so. And before I realize it, I will have completely strayed from His path, trading the Jesus shoes for the shoes of this world that will lead me to Hell. We must make sure we realign our steps daily, constantly looking down to compare our trail with His. Galatians 5:24: And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. We must make sure always that our lives are lining up with the life of Christ so completely that we can hold them and trace them together perfectly with no variation, unable to tell the difference.
It is an ongoing process that will never be complete until we reach Heaven. But Jesus has paved the way for us. He took on the punishment for our sins on the cross, but that was only the beginning. He walked the paths that we will walk in life. He took on every temptation will we have to face, showing us how to overcome. He endured all the persecution we will have to endure, demonstrating how to be strong in the face of overwhelming opposition. And He did every act and every service in ministry we could ever hope to, instructing us all on how to serve the Father, no matter the cost. And the road He traveled is the way of holiness. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; (Isaiah 35:8).