Walk Like Jesus

     The opening chapters of First Samuel provide great insight into the human condition. After settling into the land God had promised them, the people of Israel found themselves under continual attack from their enemies. Foremost among these opponents were the Amorites. The Amorites had inflicted great injury, especially to those who lived east of the Jordan River.
     In an act of desperation, Israel requested from God a king to fend off and protect them from further harm. God sent a youth named Saul who the Scriptures described as standing “heads and shoulders above” the average Jew. Saul was a strapping young man. Publicly, Saul was perceived as strong, decisive, and forceful. Privately, Saul is depicted as withdrawn, hesitant, and timorous.
     For the most part, Saul manages to keep these unsavory qualities hidden from view. Saul presents himself in the best possible light. And, the people loved him for it. In fact, we love leaders who project power, confidence, and conviction, particularly in times of struggle and uncertainty.
     However, the contrast between Saul and Jesus as leaders could not be any greater. Jesus is prophesied by the prophet, Isaiah, as less than desirable: “He possessed no splendid form for us to see, no desirable appearance, he was despised and avoided by others…” (Isaiah 53:2-3, CEB). The masses often view characteristics of humility, gentleness, and mercy as liabilities for those in leadership. Meekness is akin to weakness, as it were.
     Yet this is the portrait we are given of God throughout this Holy Week. Moreover, the qualities we see in Jesus reveal the expectations God has of us. Jesus challenges each of us to pick up our cross and follow him. We are charged to be servant leaders, not leaders of servants‒‒regardless of the position of authority we hold.
     As we continue reading this week through the remaining chapters of First Samuel, the path taken by Samuel leads to his personal ruin. His narcissistic actions also bring shame, dishonor, and destruction upon his family. Saul stands as a strong example of a life and opportunity wasted.
     In contrast, Jesus reveals the way to life abundant and eternal. My prayer for you is that you will walk in his steps. The journey is not easy. But the reward is out of this world.