At a ward activity the evening before the baptism of my eight-year old daughter, our bishop asked a talented vocalist to sing the Christian hymn “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked.” Our bishop and his wife were excitedly preparing to visit Jerusalem and literally tour the cradle of Christianity. As I prepared to give the talk on baptism and then baptize my daughter the next day, the words of this song prompted me to think that it was not necessary to visit the Holy Land in order to walk in our Savior’s footsteps. When we walk into the waters of baptism, we are also following in the footsteps of Jesus.
Years later, in a “First Presidency Message,” President Thomas S. Monson cited all the lyrics to “I Walked Where Jesus Walked,” but he also added the following thoughts: “In a very real sense, all can walk where Jesus walked when, with His words on our lips, His spirit in our hearts, and His teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality. I would hope that we would walk as He walked—with confidence in the future, with an abiding faith in His Father, and with a genuine love for others” (“The Paths Jesus Walked,” Ensign, Sept. 1992).
Latter-day Apostles have testified that the way of Jesus is “the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign, May 2017).
Therefore, how do we take the steps necessary to progress toward perfection?
Pondering the Ordinance of Baptism
The Come, Follow Me Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Family Home Evening for August 5-11 invite us to consider what Paul said about baptism. He wrote: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:3-6).
As we ponder Paul’s words, they help us understand the symbolism of the ordinance of baptism. He likens being immersed under the waters of baptism to death. Being raised up out of the waters, by a priesthood holder, relates not only to Christ rising from the dead to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20) but also to the Resurrection of humankind: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). The promised Resurrection of every human soul is one of the great truths taught by baptism.
Paul challenges us, however, not only to look with faith toward the Resurrection but also to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). We are to put an end to our sins and strive to be like Christ. When the resurrected Jesus ministered among the Nephites, He commanded them: “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48).
To accomplish such a transformation, we must be “born of water and of the Spirit” (John 3:5). Moroni promised: “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). By obeying the commandments, serving others, and offering prayers of real intent, the Holy Ghost will help individuals to find ways to deal with disappointments, temptations, and pain as well as guiding them to further ordinances and covenants.
Adding Temple Blessings and Teachings
Baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost are initial steps that lead us to the doors of the House of the Lord. As latter-day Apostles have proclaimed: “The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, May 2017). The principles, doctrines, ordinances, and covenants of the temple are to help guide us along the covenant path.
In January 16, 2018, when the new First Presidency was announced, President Russell M. Nelson urged: “Now, to each member of the Church I say, keep on the covenant path” (“As We Go Forward Together,” Ensign, Apr. 2018). On June 3, 2018 at a Worldwide Devotional for Youth, he reiterated this counsel: “My third invitation is for you to do a thorough life assessment with the Lord, and perhaps with your parents and your bishop, to ensure that your feet are firmly planted on the covenant path” (“Keep on the Covenant Path,” New Era, Mar. 2019).
In extending these invitations, President Nelson is referring to the path of covenants that, when made worthily and kept, will lead us to salvation and exaltation.
Keeping on the Covenant Path
As I ponder the meanings and blessings of baptism that lead to temple ordinances and covenants, the words of another sacred hymn come to mind: “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me” (Hymns, no. 193). It is my sincere hope that throughout the remainder of my life I will strive to walk where Jesus walked.
On February 23, 2008 I attempted to express my desires in the following poem:
“Following the Footsteps of Jesus”
“I can walk where Jesus walked
His life is an example for me today.
Though he died in a distant land long ago
His life still lights for me the way.
“When babes are blessed as ‘holy’
And grow in favour with God’s plan,
When youth long to be about their Heavenly Father’s business
They emulate the Word becoming flesh among man.
“None enter the gate of baptism
Without feeling the waters that immersed the Lamb most Holy;
None go into the mission fields to harvest
Without hearing the Master’s invitation: “Come, Follow Me!”
“Whenever I help the hungry or thirsty
Clothe the naked, bless the sick, or visit the imprisoned,
I minister to the least of God’s children
And follow the way and do as Jesus did.
“As I strive to hold to the iron rod
Praying: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,”
I hope to be a friend of Jesus
And with the Father and the Son live as one.”