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Years ago, society faddishly latched on to the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” Also known as WWJD. We wore bracelets and t-shirts as a daily reminder to ask ourselves how Jesus would respond to a situation. Some days, I’d like to hand that bracelet and t-shirt to people who sit on judicial committees, but I digress. The fact is before we can speculate what Jesus would do, we need to understand what Jesus did.
The question to ask is “What Did Jesus Do?” or WDJD. The answer comes when read what Jesus said to people and what he did as he went from one place to another. Studying Jesus’ actions and words can draw a line to how we think he would act in the types of situations we currently face.
Here are some situations which create an opportunity to review what Jesus did:
When we criticize or judge people based on the color of their skin, we need to read what Jesus did.
In Matthew 22:37-40, someone asked Jesus to identify the two most important points from their set of policies and procedures. Jesus responded the first point is to love God as a primary focus of your life. Then he said the second point is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. These points don’t include exceptions such as eliminating love when the person doesn’t look like you or behave like you. In Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31, Jesus taught us to treat others the way we want to be treated. Again, there is no workaround here as well. We do not get to treat people the way we don’t want to be treated because their skin color, economic status, or family background is different from our own. Even Jesus, whose first goal was to help the Jewish community, extended his resources to those outside of the community more than once. (Luke 7:2-8, John 4:1-42, Matthew 15:21-28)
When we blame others for our own economic decisions or failures or don’t want to help others in need, we need to read what Jesus did.
A man with a terrible spiritual issue spent many of his days terrorizing anyone who came near him. Jesus healed the man by sending the source of his spiritual aggravation into a large group of nearby pigs. The disturbed herd ran into the water and drowned. When the community came and saw the man functioning in good health, they didn’t celebrate the restoration of human dignity. For some reason, they were afraid and asked Jesus to leave. (Mark 5:1-20) Some theologians say they mourned the loss of the herd which included 2000 pigs, a sizable investment for the community. Though Jesus cares about our financial well-being, he will always care about our spiritual well-being first.
In Matthew 26:1-13, a woman used expensive perfume to clean Jesus’ feet. Picture a bottle of the DKNY Golden Delicious perfume, which cost $1M per ounce in 2019. Can you imagine pouring it on Jesus’ feet? The disciples called the act a waste. But Jesus reminded them they would always have a poor community among them. In other words, through society structure or design or by personal challenges, we will always have people who need the help of others to survive. This is our role to keep for one another because in caring for the least of society, we care for Jesus. (Matthew 25:31-40).
When we chose to support leadership with an obvious lifestyle of lying, we need to read what Jesus did.
Satan offered Jesus power and wealth at a time when he was physically and perhaps emotionally exhausted. After 40 days of no food, how many of us would say no to a loaf of bread? Jesus stood up to Satan and eventually sent him scurrying away. Jesus was not misguided by Satan’s lying spirit even when Satan promised to meet all his needs. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Religious leaders in Jesus’ day often criticized his ministry efforts. Focused on their own agendas and fueled by jealousy, they created enormous lies and fake stories about Jesus’ work. He knew their hearts and put them in their place every time. He didn’t have secret meetings with covert plans to mislead people. He called the religious leaders poisonous snakes and stood up to them. (Matthew 12:1-35)
When the pressures of a pandemic hurt us, and we respond by hurting others, we need to read what Jesus did.
Jesus’ assignment was clear. Although he was innocent, he had to die like a criminal to be a sacrifice for a sin-sick world. He had some concerns about the assignment. It was going to be painful. Maybe he wondered if the world was worth the sacrifice. He prayed for the goal to be achieved without his dying. (Luke 22:39-44) After prayer, he went forward. Later, the community, which was under the pressure of Roman rule was no longer praising him as their Savior. Due to the influence of lying leadership, they praised the decision to execute him. As his beaten body was raised on a wooden cross into the sky, blood trickled from wounds from head to toe. A tortured Jesus had the power with one word to destroy everyone in the crowd. His response was to ask the Lord to forgive them. (Luke 23)
That is what Jesus did.
Can you speculate from what Jesus said and how he behaved, what type of person he was? What did Jesus do? Jesus forgave. Jesus helped others. Jesus stood up to lying leadership which misled people? Jesus rejected racism. Jesus did…
Are you ready to do what Jesus did?