Have you heard of Jesus as your forerunner? Or maybe you have heard of Him as the One who has gone the way in your place?
What does the word “forerunner” mean? In this case, “forerunner” means a person that goes in front or ahead of someone else. Therefore, if Jesus is our forerunner, there must be others who follow after Him, otherwise it is no use for Him to be called a “forerunner”.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain [veil], where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV).
Following after someone should mean going the same way as he has gone, to get the same result as he got. How do we really follow after Jesus? First, we have to understand what Jesus achieved on earth, and why we would want to follow Him.
How did Jesus become our Forerunner?
When Jesus was born into the world, it was not like Adam before the Fall, with no sinful desires in His human nature. Instead, He began His life as a man and as a servant, not as a king, because then not many of us would be able to follow Him. (Philippians 2:7) He shared in the same flesh and blood – in the same sinful human nature – just like the children. (Hebrews 2:14; Romans 7:18.)
“Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he learned obedience by what he suffered.” Hebrews 5:8 (NCV). Jesus had to learn obedience; that meant that He had a self-will that was the opposite of God’s will. Jesus had to suffer to obey His Father –not giving in to His own will caused suffering. Every time Jesus was tempted to the sin that lived in His flesh, in His human nature, God condemned the sin that lived there, and Jesus was obedient. (Romans 8:3-4.) He never sinned, but instead found the sin that lived in His human nature and put it to death by never once giving in to it. (Hebrews 4:15.) In this way, all sin and self-will in His human nature was put to death, and godly nature replaced it in Jesus’ life.
When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51.) The veil was the curtain that blocked the entrance into the Most Holy Place in the temple and is a symbol of sin in the flesh (in the human nature) that all people have inherited since the Fall. Because it is sin that separates us from God and stops us from going into the Most Holy Place. When the veil was torn in two, it showed that all sin in Jesus’ flesh (human nature) had been condemned and brought into death. Jesus made a new and living way through the flesh – the veil – right up to the Father’s throne. (Hebrews 10:19-22.) He had become a Forerunner, and had now made it fully possible for us to share in godly nature, if we are also willing to go the same way by putting the sin in our human nature to death.
How do we follow Jesus?
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding — because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin …” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (CSB). Jesus has shown us the way by first taking up the battle to the sin in His flesh, in His human nature, during His time here on earth. If it wasn’t possible for any man to share in godly nature, then Jesus’ life and death would have been useless.
Many people think that if they have come to Jesus, they have gone the whole way. But there is a difference between coming to Jesus (who is the Way) and going on the way yourself.
What does it mean to go on this way through our flesh (our sinful human nature)? “I know that good does not live in me — that is, in my human nature …” Romans 7:18 (GNB). This was the same human nature that Jesus inherited as the Son of Man. When we are tempted, it is because of the sin that lives in our human nature, which we also have inherited from the Fall. It is exactly when we are tempted that we have a chance to put the sin that we see in ourselves to death. We do this by saying no to it, by not agreeing to the temptation, but instead “sacrificing” ourselves to do what is pleasing to God. In this way, the sin in our human nature is put to death little by little and loses its power. This is what it means to condemn sin in our human nature. (Romans 8:3.)
Jesus gave His body as a sacrifice to do the will of the Father for as long as He lived. (Hebrews 10:7; Luke 22:42.) If we want to follow Jesus, we also have to give ourselves completely to do God’s will. Our sins are forgiven by the blood of Jesus, but when we give ourselves completely to do God’s will, then we can go into the Most Holy Place in the blood of Jesus. Symbolically speaking this is the same as the blood that also flows in our own life when we hate our life – our own will – so that it dies.
Personal help from our Forerunner
It is in the Most Holy Place where God shows Himself to us and speaks to us. Here the Father shows us what His will is. Here we also find the throne of grace. (Hebrews 4:16.) Here is where Jesus is, at the right hand of the Father, praying for us. (Hebrews 7:25) “For since He Himself suffered while being tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18 Because Jesus had gone this way Himself, and had been tempted in everything as we are, He understands what we are going through and can have sympathy with our weaknesses. (Hebrews 4:15.) It’s not a sympathy that allows us to carry on with sinning, but true help to come out of the power that sin has over us and out of the misery and death it causes! When we pray to Him, He sees our need, and He prays on our behalf to the Father.
We can go to the throne of grace so that we can get grace and help to overcome sin at the right time. We need this help so that we can overcome sin as Jesus did. This grace, which is help at the right time, is not forgiveness after we have sinned, but grace and power in the time of temptation, so that we do not fall and do sin!
If we take Jesus as our Forerunner and give up all of our own plans, and follow Him and be His disciple, then Jesus will also become our closest, most personal friend. Through the Holy Spirit, He speaks to us in our hearts, and gives us very detailed, honest and good instruction and advice. As a Friend, He also gives us comfort and strength and is not afraid to tell us the absolute truth about how we are, so that we see ourselves and can change.
Then we also experience Jesus as someone who not only made the way, but is also running alongside us, with a heart full of care, love, hope and mercy, leading and helping us toward the goal – which is to be set free from the sin in our human nature so that only the fruits of the Spirit will grow and be seen in us!