A dull theological term (just four words in and already I am redundant) called “identification” describes the link between the life of Jesus and our own, which Paul describes in chapter six.
In the River Jordan, at a desert ford (Salim, perhaps) south of Galilee, John baptized Jesus. The baptism of the Essene monastics and the early church symbolically submerged the old life in dark, airless waters of death; a new life arises, coming up for the Light of Christ and the Air of the Spirit, alive through and to God.
In baptism, death, and resurrection, Jesus goes before his bride. Walking ahead on the road of life, he shields her at great personal cost from hidden pits, landmines, and highwaymen. The road to eternity is safe for those who follow in his steps: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Death no longer has mastery over Christ – nor us.
He is dead to sin – as am I, if I follow behind him on the road, heeding Paul to “in the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus….do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” My savior has given me knowledge, power, encouragement, his example, and his Comforter - how firm a foundation – what more can he do, save take away my personal choice?
I am standing in the road, uninterested in going forward and distracted by something going on in the bushes. Ahead of me, Jesus stops. He turns. He beckons. “Follow me,” he says. “I am the Way.”
I know this. I see that He is a trustworthy protector and companion. Still I say to Him, “I am tired. I need to rest by the side of the road.” Ahead of me he beckons and says, “Come unto Me, Guy, and I will give you rest.”
I say to him, “how can I rest by going forward?” He says, “I am the beginning and the end of your road, Guy, and indeed of all roads. Nothing is impossible with me. Walk and find strength and refreshing.”
Shuffling forward I mutter, “I want a closer look at what’s happening in the bushes.” He says, “broad is the path that leads to destruction, but narrow is the path that leads to eternal life. Remember the darkness of your heart when I first came knocking on its door – what benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?”
Tonight I sang at a Christian coffee house in Montpelier. Sunday, I sing at North Avenue Alliance. Today, I started writing Diane’s biography. Oh my Way, my Beginning and End, my Rest – sing with me, bring life to my words, help me walk forwards to you and with you, shedding my useless bloated vanity that shuns your way, seeks its own rest, and is an end unto itself. Of all my gifts, the one you treasure most is a tender, loving, obedient heart.
“There is a joy in the journey
There’s a wildness and wonder to life.” – Michael Card