What Would Jesus Do?

Jesus and the moneychangers

What would Jesus do? This is a question that many religious people ask themselves when they attempt to decide if a particular decision or activity is right. Their intentions might be good – trying to focus on Jesus and please Him. However, this question is the wrong question!

Why is this the wrong question? It is too subjective. It turns our responsibility into nothing more than what we think Jesus would do in a given situation. Instead of asking a subjective question like this (What would Jesus do?), let us consider some other questions to ask – questions for which we can find objective and definitive answers from the Scriptures.

Why Did Jesus Come?

Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus came to earth in order to offer His life on the cross for our sins. This was first prophesied in the beginning when sin was introduced into the world (Genesis 3:15). The Hebrew writer said, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15). He wrote later, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Therefore, Jesus came in the flesh in order to offer His life and make our sanctification possible (Hebrews 10:5, 10).

It is also important to note what Jesus did NOT come to do:

  • Jesus did not come to establish an earthly kingdom – Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36). Jesus established a spiritual kingdom – the church (Matthew 16:18-19).
  • Jesus did not come to end sickness and suffering – He certainly did heal people on various occasions (Matthew 4:23; 11:4-5). However, the end of such things will not come until the end of the world. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). The end of sickness, suffering, and death will not come on earth; it will be in heaven.
  • Jesus did not come to end poverty – Jesus may have been concerned for the poor (Matthew 11:5), but He acknowledged that poverty would always exist. He said, “For you always have the poor with you…” (Matthew 26:11). His mission was not to end poverty. Instead, He came so that “the poor of this world” could be “rich in faith” (James 2:5).
  • Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth – Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). While it is true that angels appeared and praised God after Jesus’ birth for the peace that would come through Him, that peace would be “among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14) – not among all men. Jesus came to make peace between man and God (Ephesians 2:14-16).

Jesus came to earth so that He might die on the cross and reconcile us to God. His mission was not to fix all of the world’s problems, but to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10).

What Did Jesus Do?

What would Jesus do?” This question is speculative. People will have different answers for any given situation. Instead, we should ask, “What did Jesus do?” This is objective. We can look to what is recorded in the Scriptures.

We must look at what Jesus did since He is our perfect example. Peter wrote, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22). Jesus showed an example of complete submission to the will of the Father – just as we are expected to do. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). As Jesus was willing to lay down His life on the cross, we must be willing to “take up [our] cross daily and follow” Him (Luke 9:23).

What Jesus did serves as the foundation of the gospel. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The gospel is based upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is important that we follow that example. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:3-6). We must look at what Jesus did and follow His lead.

What Does Jesus Require?

Many religious people believe that the Lord simply requires that we believe in Him and love Him. Yet James made it clear that belief without obedience is useless: “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Jesus indicated that love without obedience is not real love: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15; cf. 1 John 5:3).

So what does the Lord require of us?

  • We must obey the gospel – Each account of the Great Commission records different details. But if we put them together, we get a complete picture of what is involved in obeying the gospel. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47). To obey the gospel requires belief, repentance, and baptism.
  • We must observe His commandments – We already considered the need for obedience. But notice that Jesus was sure to include this immediately after giving His apostles instructions regarding baptism (Matthew 28:19). New converts were to be taught to “observe all that [the Lord] commanded” (Matthew 28:20). We must observe the same commandments today.
  • We must continue in His word – Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). It is important that we continue to study, learn, teach, and practice His word.
  • We must take up our cross and follow – “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me’” (Luke 9:23). The Lord requires us to be willing to sacrifice our lives for Him. Paul wrote, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

Yes, we must do more than just believe in Christ and profess our love for Him. We must do those things He expects us to do.

What Will Jesus Do?

The Scriptures teach that Jesus will come again. After Jesus ascended to heaven, two angels said to the apostles, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

What will Jesus do when He returns from heaven? It will not be to establish a kingdom on earth, as many erroneously believe. Instead, He is coming to judge the world. “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:27). Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). When Jesus comes in judgment, He will reward those who have been faithful (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 2 Timothy 4:7-8) and punish those who have not (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Sadly, some will be surprised by their sentence at judgment. Jesus said, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:22-23). We need to try to avoid surprises on that day, because then it will be too late to change. Rather than following the subjective standard of what we think will please the Lord (cf. Proverbs 14:12), we need to follow the objective standard of the word of God (cf. John 12:48).

Conclusion

The word of God is objective truth. It is fixed and unchanging. The psalmist wrote, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). Paul said, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8-9). The truth contained in God’s word is settled. We have no right to change it.

What would Jesus do? This might be a well-intentioned question, but it is too subjective. We need to ask the objective questions considered here so that we might serve the Lord as He expects us to serve Him.


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Comments

  1. Very good article, Andy. So many foolish people make the wrong decision and are disobedient to the Lord and yet many will say they asked the Lord in prayer what to do and were led to do some very wicked things. How shallow the thinking of men! As you so aptly put it, we must observe what Jesus has taught and then we will know what the Lord would have us do.