"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, NIV)
A group of soldiers was crossing a snow-covered field in Europe during World War II. Suddenly a mine exploded, killing one of the men. Every soldier froze. The sergeant told the men to move as carefully as they could into single file behind him, stepping into the footprints already made as often as possible. Once they were in a single file behind him, he instructed them to follow his steps carefully. Where he had already stepped was safe. If they followed his example, they would be safe from the deadly mines. If he was killed, the next soldier in line was to continue to lead.
The apostle Peter urged his readers to follow the example of Jesus. The word for “example” is interesting. In ancient Greek it referred to the sample writing a teacher gave a student to imitate in order to learn how to form letters correctly. Likewise, we imitate Jesus and walk where He walked. Jesus was victorious over temptation and sin, and we can safely follow His footsteps. For example, in a reading of books like 1 Peter 2, we find that Peter’s readers would likely have to endure suffering if they lived as Christians, but they we reassured in that Jesus had also suffered for doing what was right.