Summary: We don't have to guess what Jesus WOULD do... we know what he DID.

What DID Jesus Do?

1 Peter 2:21

I was recently sitting in a preacher meeting and I noticed that Kevin James was wearing socks with “W.W.J.D.” printed on them. I have seen other people wearing bracelets, hats, key chains, t-shirts, and other items with the “W.W.J.D.”

I think the whole idea is a good one.

Our scripture verse for the day makes is plain that such a question should become a type of guiding principle of our lives. It should serve as a moral compass, helping us to apply many abstract elements of our Christian faith to many practical questions we face each day.

However, this hypothetical question presupposes we have already answered another equally important, yet less obvi¬ous, question: What did Jesus do?

If we don’t know what Jesus DID do in His life, how can we expect to guess what He WOULD do in ours?

We can look at the four gospels with these questions in mind and discover six priorities that guided Jesus’ decisions. These themes in His life can serve as a framework for the choices we face daily.

1. Seeking the Father.

Jesus demonstrated intimacy with God by seeking Him continually in prayer. Sometimes this fact boggles my mind. Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity, made it a priority to spend time with God.

Forty-five times the gospels tell us that Jesus went alone to pray.

Every aspect of His life and ministry was saturated with prayer.

Mark 1 gives us a glimpse of Jesus early in His ministry. His life was swirling with people, needs, and opportunities. Jesus ministered around the clock, preaching, teaching, casting out demons, healing the sick, and training leaders. The crowds were growing in size and enthusiasm. One night, Jesus had been up late serving these people. But the next day, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got tip, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mk. 1:35).

In a similar situation, I prob¬ably would have rationalized that I deserved the sleep and needed it to serve at full strength.

Jesus, however, was committed to drawing strength from His Father through prayer, even if something else had to give.

He prayed when He could have been sleeping or teaching.

He prayed alone when people wanted to be with Him.

When He was popular and when He was a fugitive, when He faced difficult decisions and when He was tempted by trials, Jesus prayed. What would Jesus do?

He would make time to com¬mune with the Father, connect with His power, and concentrate on His purposes. He might sleep less, work less, or be with people less,

but He would find time to pray.

2. Embracing and Accepting People

Jesus demonstrated the love of God by accepting the cast¬aways of society. This provoked great disdain from the reli¬gious establishment. But Jesus was much less squeamish than most about embracing the sinful and sickly, the unseemly and unimportant.

Luke 5 offers a good example. Shortly after accepting Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, Levi (later known as Matthew) “held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eat¬ing with them” (v. 29). On the social-ethical scale of the day, tax collectors landed somewhere between a pimp and something that crawls out from tinder a rock. An upstand¬ing individual would not associate with them at all.

But Jesus not only talked to Levi; he asked the man to become His disciple (v.27). Then He went to the tax col¬lector’s house for a party with other unsavory folk. In that culture, eating together meant receiving each other in rela¬tionship. With such a questionable collection of charac¬ters, I imagine the music was a little loud, the air was a little smoky, and some of the jokes were a little questionable.

And don’t think Jesus didn’t hear about it. Luke 5:30 says, “The Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”’ Jesus’ reply revealed His priorities: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, hut the sick” (v. 31).

What would Jesus do? He would spend time with the sickly and sinful, proving He genuinely cared about them— even at the risk of catching flak from the uptown crowd.

3. Restoring the Broken

Jesus demonstrated the power of God by restoring the lives of broken people.

Isaiah said this would be one of the defin¬ing qualities of the Messiah (Is. 61:1-3),

The Spirit of the LORD God has taken control of me! The LORD has chosen and sent me to tell the oppressed the good news, to heal the brokenhearted, and to announce freedom for prisoners and captives. This is the year when the LORD God will show kindness to us and punish our enemies. The LORD has sent me to comfort those who mourn, especially in Jerusalem. He sent me to give them flowers in place of their sorrow, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts. They will be called “Trees of Justice,” planted by the LORD to honor his name.

and Jesus clearly understood that restoration was an integral part of His mission (Lk. 4:16-21).

16 Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and as usual he went to the meeting place on the Sabbath. When he stood up to read from the Scriptures, he was given the book of Isaiah the prophet. He opened it and read, “The Lord’s Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor. The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers, and to say, ‘This is the year the Lord has chosen.’ ” Jesus closed the book, then handed it back to the man in charge and sat down. Everyone in the meeting place looked straight at Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “What you have just heard me read has come true today.”

By the power of God’s Spirit, Jesus provided for peo¬ple’s physical and financial needs (Mt. 14:14-21, 17:27). He cast out demons (Lk. 4:36), healed broken bodies (Lk. 5:17), raised the dead (Jn. 11:1-44), and forgave the sins of the guilty (Mt. 9:6). He conferred this power to His disciples (Lk. 9:1-2), and He promised the endowment of the Holy Spirit for believers yet to come (Lk. 24:49, Jn. 15:26-27).

Jesus proved that God’s power is sufficient to meet every need.

The Scriptures promise us that the same power works in and through our lives today.

Paul prayed that we might know “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ” (Eph. 1:19-20).

Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

Spiritual power was the rule of Jesus’ life, and it should charac¬terize His followers today.

I am by no means a miracle worker. But I do know miraculous things still happen.

So what would Jesus do in my life?

He would operate on the assumption that we have a wonder-working God who delights in restoring lives that seem irrevocably shat¬tered. Jesus would see the people around me as miracles waiting to happen.

4. Confronting Hypocrisy

Jesus demonstrated the heart of God by standing against lifeless religion.

He openly confronted religious hypocrisy (Mt. 23:13-39) inciting great opposition that ultimately led to His execution.

Jesus repeatedly rebuked religious people who buried the true heart of God in their man¬made traditions (Mt. 19:3-8, Lk. 13:10-1 7).

Twice He cleansed the temple because people were using Cod’s house for their own gain (Lk. 19:45-46, Jn. 2:13-22).

We have to he very careful with this principle in our lives.

Sometimes, when we’re looking for an excuse to be “righ¬teously indignant,” it comes in a little too handy. When we want to blow off some steam at another’s expense, we fancy ourselves following in Jesus’ steps.

In reality however, our out¬bursts may have been more about our anger than God’s righteousness.

What would Jesus do?

He would go on record against people who act in the name of God to hurt others. He’d stand up against crusaders parading with signs that ven¬omously attack and label others. And He’d passionately speak out against those who profit from the oppressed hut who claim their God is full of compassion.

5. Teaching God’s Word

Jesus demonstrated the truth of God by teaching His Word. Whether addressing curious crowds or the committed core, Jesus took advantage of every teachable moment. He was a master teacher who communicated through stories, one-liners, and statements of truth that shocked and amazed His audiences. Sometimes He confronted, and other times He consoled. Whether it was individuals or multitudes, seekers or skeptics, Jesus was always helping people discover His Father. He lived and spoke the truth, a perfect expression of Cod’s character (In. 1:14).

But even though He was the incar¬nate Word, Jesus often directed people back to the written Word. He never said, “Now that I’m here you can put those Bibles away. Everything I say is from Cod, so just listen to Me.” One time a biblical expert asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law?” (Lk. 10:25-26). The rich young ruler asked the same ques¬tion, and Jesus answered him from the Scriptures as well (Mt. 19:16-21).

Many of us do not consider ourselves teachers. If we don’t stand in a pulpit on Sunday or lead a study during the week, we may be tempted to think this aspect of Jesus’ life doesn’t apply to us. However, that understanding of teaching is too narrow, Jesus taught when He conversed one on one with Nicodemus and when He preached to thousands of people. His life shows us that teaching doesn’t demand an outline with three points that begin with the same letter. Teaching simply requires being so filled with Cod’s Word that it naturally overflows from our lives into the lives of those around us. What would Jesus do? He would he ready with the Word, seizing every opportunity to impress the truth of God upon the everyday lives of His listeners.

6. Serving Others

Jesus demonstrated the sacrifice of God by serving others. The Gospel of Mark revolves around these words:

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. —Mk. 10:43-45

Service marked Jesus’ life from start to finish. In fact, Mark seemed to consider it the distinctive characteristic of Christ.

Jesus served through sacrifice, putting the needs of others above His own. At the last supper, He put on a towel and washed His disciples’ feet (in. 13:2-17). His life of service culminated at the cross, where the Son of Man died to pay our spiritual debt,

Sometimes I feel I’m so busy doing God’s work that I don’t have time for people. But God’s work is people! His business is help¬ing a homeless couple find shelter before nightfall. His business is praying with a child for her sick kitty and reading the Bible with a new Christian. His business is pushing a stalled car through the intersection and taking the midnight call from a struggling friend.

I’m certain that Jesus would he about God’s business: giving of Himself to m the needs of others.

C:\Sermons\WDJD.doc, C.B.C., 12/10/2000 am


senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Albany, Oregon.

Discipleship Journal, Issue 120, Nov/Dec 2000, pp 24-28