Have you heard of Jesus as your forerunner? You might have heard of Him as the One who has gone the way instead of you.
What does the term “forerunner” mean? According to dictionary explanation, a “forerunner” is “a person or thing that precedes the coming or development of someone or something else.” “Precede” means to “go in front or ahead of.” If that’s the case, then Jesus being our forerunner would mean that there must be others who follow after Him, otherwise it would be meaningless for Him to be called a “forerunner.”
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20.
Following after someone should naturally mean going the same way as they have gone, to achieve the same result as they have. How do we actually follow after Jesus? First, we have to understand what Jesus accomplished on earth, and why we want to follow Him.
How did Jesus become our Forerunner?
When Jesus was born into the world, it was not as Adam before the Fall, with no indwelling sin in His human nature. Instead, He began His race as a man and as a servant, not in the form of a king, because then not many could have followed Him. (Philippians 2:7) He partook of flesh and blood – the entire body of sin – just like the children. (Hebrews 2:14; Romans 7:18)
“… though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Hebrews 5:8. Jesus had to learn obedience; that meant that He had a self-will that was contrary to God’s will. It required sufferings – not giving in to His self-will – for Him to obey His Father. Every time Jesus was tempted, and His flesh demanded its right, God condemned the sin that dwelt in His flesh, and Jesus sacrificed Himself. (Romans 8:3-4) He never committed sin, but instead found the sin that dwelt in Him and brought an eternal death over it, by never once giving in. (Hebrews 4:15) In this way, all sin and self-will in His flesh was put to death, and divine nature came forth 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 blocked the entrance into the Holy of Holies in the temple and symbolizes the sin in the flesh that all people have inherited since the Fall, because it is sin that separates man from God and prevents entrance into the Holiest. When the veil was torn, it showed that all sin in Jesus’ flesh had been condemned and brought into death. Jesus had consecrated 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 mankind to be able to partake of divine nature, if they are also willing to go the same way by putting the sin in their flesh to death.
How do we follow Jesus?
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin …” 1 Peter 4:1-2. Jesus has shown us the way by first taking up the battle against sin in the days of His flesh. If it wasn’t possible for any man to partake of divine nature, then Jesus’ life and death would have been in vain.
Many people have the understanding that if they have come to Jesus, they have gone the whole way. However, there is a difference between coming to Jesus (the way), and going on the way.
What does it mean to go on this way through our flesh? “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells …” Romans 7:18. This was the same flesh that Jesus inherited as the Son of Man. When we are tempted, it is because of the sin that dwells in our flesh, which we also have inherited from the Fall. It is precisely when we are tempted that we have an opportunity to put the sin that we meet to death. We do this by denying 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 flesh is gradually put to death and it loses its power. This is what it means to condemn sin in the flesh. (Romans 8:3)
All through His life, Jesus presented His body as a sacrifice to do the will of the Father. (Hebrews 10:7; Luke 22:42) To follow Him, we also have to be surrendered to the same will – God’s will. We receive the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus, but when we lay down our lives and surrender to the same will that Jesus did, we have boldness to enter the Holiest in the blood of Jesus, which is the blood that also flows in our own life, figuratively speaking, when we hate our life – our own will – so that it dies.
Personal help from our Forerunner
It is in the Holiest where God reveals Himself to us and speaks to us. Here we get to learn the will of the Father. Here we also find the throne of grace. (Hebrews 4:16) Here is where Jesus is, at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25) “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18. Because He Himself had gone this way, and had been tempted in all points as we are, He understands what we are going through and can sympathize with our weaknesses. (Hebrews 4:15) It’s not a sympathy that allows us to remain in sin, but true help to come out of its clutches and to defeat the misery and death it leads to! When we pray to Him, He sees our need, and He prays on our behalf to the Father. This is how He is also our Mediator.
We can boldly approach the throne of grace in order to receive grace and help to have victory over sin at the right time. We need this help in order to succeed as Jesus did. This grace to 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 commit sin!.
If we take Jesus as our Forerunner and give up everything to go on this way of discipleship, Jesus will also become our closest, most personal friend. Through the Holy Spirit, He speaks to us in our hearts, and gives us precise, honest and valuable guidance and advice. As a Friend, He also offers 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 paved the way, but is also running alongside us, with a heart full of care, love, hope and mercy, guiding and helping us toward the goal – to be set free from sin in the flesh so that only the virtues of Christ, the fruits of the Spirit, grow and come forth!