There are moments in the lives of small children that delight parents in every generation. Though those moments occur in every generation, the very same incident never gets old, never stops touching us, never fails to make us smile.

One such moment is the sight of a three or four year old child wearing Dad's shoes. Dad's shoes are too big for the child to lift off the floor. If he tries, he steps out of the shoes. So he struggles to keep his small feet and legs in Daddy's shoes as he scoots those huge shoes across the floor.

Small children have been trying to walk in Daddy's shoes as long as Daddies have been wearing shoes. Yet, that sight always makes us smile. We are never bored by a small child trying to wear Daddy's shoes.

Why do small children try to wear Daddy's shoes? To the child, Daddy is bigger than life and can do anything. Daddy is his hero. He wants to be like Daddy.

One of the songs I remember singing in worship when I was a child is "Stepping in the Light."

Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Trying to follow our Savior and King;
Shaping our lives by His blessed example,
Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring.
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Stepping in the light; . . .
Led in paths of light!
  (Eliza E. Hewitt & William J. Kirkpatrick, 1889)
A newer song of worship that I find deeply meaningful is "Step by Step."
O God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You.
I will seek You in the morning,
And I will learn to walk in Your ways,
And step by step You'll lead me,
And I will follow You all of my days.

(Copyright © 1991, Kid Brothers of St. Frank Publishing/ASCAP)
As Christians, we are trying to wear Jesus' sandals and step in his footprints.
  1. We have a Savior.
    1. As Christians, our Savior is bigger than life -- literally.
      1. He is our hero.
        1. He loved us, wanted us, and was not ashamed of us before we knew him.
        2. He not only saved us from all the forces outside ourselves that were destroying us, but he also saved us from ourselves -- from all the forces within us that were destroying us.
        3. Because we know him, because we place our confidence in him, because we have begun to understand what he did for us, by our choice, he is the controlling force within our lives.
      2. He loved us so much that he saved us from eternal death.
        1. He took our punishment for our mistakes and paid for our failures.
        2. He did that before we understood who he was or what he was doing.
        3. In fact, he did that before we realized that we were destroying ourselves.
      3. Because he saved us, because he actually gave us new life, because he will give us life again after we physically die, we want to be like him.
        1. That is why we call ourselves Christians -- the people who seek to be like Christ.
        2. We live in him, and by our conscious choice he lives in us.
      4. Unless he teaches us, we will not understand the purpose of living.
      5. Unless he guides us, we will not find the direction that leads to life with God.
    2. Our Savior Jesus is unique.
      1. In every age of this world there have been would be saviors.
        1. These saviors are always certain that they know what we must learn.
        2. But they want to save us by telling us what we should do.
      2. Jesus never limited his efforts to help us by just telling us what to do.
        1. As he told us, he showed us by using his own life as an example.
        2. Often he showed us before he told us.
      3. So, to the Christian, Jesus is much more than our teacher.
        1. Because he showed us, he is also our example.
        2. So each day we put our small feet and short legs into his huge sandals, and each day we try to wear his sandals as we walk in his steps.
    3. About 2000 years ago he actually walked the sandy beach of time.
      1. His footprints are still clearly visible on that beach -- they will remain on the beach of time long as this earth exists.
      2. Each day, in front of us, are his sandal prints as he walked through life.
      3. As we walk down that beach of time, we struggle to wear his sandals and step in his footprints.
      4. As our patient, loving heavenly Father and loving, resurrected Savior watch, that must be a comical sight.

  2. There were twelve hand-picked men who followed Jesus every day.
    1. Acts 1 indicates that there were many more than these twelve who followed Jesus daily, but these twelve were hand-picked by Jesus.
      1. Every day they listened to Jesus teach, watched him help all kinds of people, and witnessed the miracles he performed.
      2. The night before his execution, Jesus made this statement to these twelve men (John 13:13-17).
        You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
    2. Because we declare that we are Christians, we propose to be Jesus' disciples -- not just on Sundays when we spend two or three hours in study and worship, but every day.
      1. We call him Teacher and Lord.
      2. For each of us, he has done more than wash our feet -- he has washed our sins away.
      3. Since he has forgiven us, he asks us to forgive each other.
      4. In his cleansing of us he has given us an example of both humility and service to others.
      5. In his example he has given us a purpose bigger than self, bigger than material ambitions, and bigger than physical desires.
      6. He specifically gave us his example because he wants us to put on his sandals and walk in his footprints.
      7. If we are to wear his sandals and walk in his footprints, there is something very basic that we must understand: we are never more important than he is.
        1. If something was not beneath him, it cannot be beneath us.
        2. If something was important to him, it must be important to us.
        3. It is by looking at and understanding him that we literally define who we are and what our purpose on earth is.
      8. If we know these things, we are blessed if we do them.

  3. If I am going to wear his sandals and walk in his footprints, I must listen as he explains something very fundamental about belonging to God.
    1. In John 5 Jesus was in Jerusalem.
      1. He healed a man on the Jewish Sabbath day, the day on which God's law forbid anyone to work.
      2. He told the healed man to pick up his mat and go home.
      3. According to the religious leaders, that was an act of work that violated God's law.
      4. When these leaders turned on him, Jesus said, "Truly, truly, the Son can do nothing of himself, unless it is something he sees the Father doing; for whatsoever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19).
      5. In that same statement Jesus said, "I can do nothing on my own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me" (John 5:30).
    2. In John 6 both the religious leaders and a huge crowd of people who were following Jesus became very upset at some things Jesus said about himself.
      1. Among many things Jesus said to them, he made this statement: "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me" (John 6:38).
    3. In John 8 Jesus was involved in another confrontation with the religious leaders.
      1. The situation was growing increasingly tense.
      2. Jesus was quite aware that these people would succeed in having him killed, and that he would be executed on a cross.
      3. So he said to those who would succeed in having him killed, "When you lift up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught me" (John 8:28).

  4. Jesus was so powerful, so popular, so untouchable that the twelve hand-picked disciples began to feel like very important people.
    1. They had visions of Jesus being king in Jerusalem and of them occupying very prestigious and important places in Jesus' kingdom.
      1. Each one of them was filled with ambition and a sense of personal importance, and each considered himself more important than the other eleven men.
      2. When they gathered to eat the religious meal called the Passover on the last night of Jesus' life, they were a pride filled, arrogant group.
      3. Because they wore sandals in those days, their feet quickly got dirty as they walked.
        1. When guests came or when the family came in for the evening, it was a matter of good manners and warm hospitality to wash people's feet.
        2. Not one of the disciples dared lower himself to wash the other disciples' feet.
      4. So Jesus, their Lord and Teacher, got up, took off his robe, put a towel around his waist, poured a basin of water, and washed their feet.
    2. When he finished, he asked "Do you know what I have done?"
      1. That is when he said that they rightfully called him Lord and Teacher.
      2. If he could wash their feet, they should wash each others' feet.
      3. "I have given you an example; do as I did."
    3. If you are going to wear Jesus' sandals and walk in his footprints, there are two things you must never forget.
      1. The first thing: always follow God's lead.
        1. If Jesus could do nothing of himself, we surely can do nothing of ourselves.
        2. Our spiritual ambitions are unimportant; God's purposes are essential.
        3. Don't decide for God; listen to God, and follow.
        4. Almost every day I remind myself, "It's about God; it is not about you."
      2. The second thing: nothing in serving God's purposes is beneath you.
        1. Execution by death on a cross was not beneath Jesus.
        2. No use that God would make of a Christian's life is beneath him or her.
        3. Self-importance and arrogance have no place in a Christian heart.

Is anything more important than your living with God in heaven? Without hesitation, you probably say no. Do you really mean that? If you really mean that, then in surrender to the Lord and Teacher, begin to pray this prayer. "Whatever it takes, Lord, whatever it takes. I want to be your spiritual person. I want to live close to you now. I want to live in heaven with you. Let me experience whatever it takes." Then step into Jesus' sandals and begin the most incredible journey of your life.

A small child can't fill his daddy's shoes. I can't fill my Lord's sandals.

It won't happen.
It can't happen.
It will never happen.
Some days I may do a fair job stepping in His footsteps. Some days I struggle to even find His footsteps. God said we had to follow His son, not necessarily in His same steps.
Above all things, God wants me to have Jesus' heart. Don't say you can't do it. God loves you more than you love your child. The strength is in God, not in you.
Will you let Him lead you home?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 10 August 1997

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