Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

What Did Jesus Do?: Why W.W.J.D. Is the Wrong Question

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What Did Jesus Do?

Why W.W.J.D. Is the Wrong Question

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What Did Jesus Do?: Why W.W.J.D. Is the Wrong Question

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What would Jesus do is a common phrase, but this is an exercise in a hypothetical. People would often just come to the conclusion to do what they intended to do anyhow. We look at 4 examples of what Jesus did do, that we should do likewise.

Transcript

[John Miller] Good afternoon, once again. About twenty years ago, a bumper sticker became popular and continues to be somewhat popular unto this day. And usually what you will see is a bumper sticker on the back of a car that has four letters printed on it, WWJD – meaning, What Would Jesus Do? Today I would like to take that question to task, because it is asking the wrong question.

Consider how it asks the question. The question is framed around the conditional, hypothetical verb would. I would like to reframe it today, in the factual active voice of the past tense version of the verb, to do. Instead of asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” we should ask the action packed factual question, “What did Jesus do?” and then do likewise. Because whenever you have a question that is framed in the conditional tense, it allows for all kinds of wonderful creativity. Because when we ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” and we are confronted with a situation, what almost immediately happens in the human mind is, you begin to rationalize and ask yourself, “Well, you know, I am sure that Jesus would, in this situation, do what is most probably what you wanted to do in the first place, but…” Do you follow my thoughts on this? I’m seeing some people nodding their heads. It is a very different question from the question, “What did Jesus actually do,” and then doing likewise.

I draw this idea or lesson from a very commonly known account in the scripture. It is found over in Luke, chapter 10. So let’s go over to Luke, chapter 10, and take a look at this particular analogy, or parable – whatever the case may be. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which we are all familiar with – Luke, chapter 10, and verse 25:

Luke 10:25 Luke 10:25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
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A nd behold a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying – one of my favorite people that I have to deal with – a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him. Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He at least knew enough to ask the question and frame it in the active, action-packed form of the verb to do. He said, “What must I do – or, What shall I do – to inherit eternal life?” He didn’t ask, “What must I say?” or, “To what belief must I connect to?” He asked the question, “What must I do?” And He said to him, what is written in the law? – what is your interpretation – what is your reading of the law? So, he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus answered, and said to him, “You have answered rightly. Do this and you shall live.” Now here is where the lawyer would have been a lot better off by just saying, “Thank you.” But as the scripture records: But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Here is where the challenge begins. Jesus recites a parable that is very interesting, on the one hand, and very confrontational, considering he was talking to the established rulers of the time, because he frames the parable and contrasts the actors in the parable between the righteous and the unrighteous Samaritans. This would have been a very controversial thing to do at the time.

Then Jesus answered and said, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, who stripped him of all his clothing, wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So here was a priest whose purpose and function in life, his responsibility and role was to care for the people. That was his professional responsibility. What Jesus says is, when this certain priest came along, and when he had an opportunity, he abdicated his responsibility with the excuse that, it is a Samaritan, and he passed by on the other side. Depending on what commentary you read – I mean, there are all kinds of explanations as to what the excuses might have been – but the fact is, those excuses are speculation. He might have thought about: perhaps he was concerned that he would become unclean. You can frame all kinds of tentative things about what might have been. What Jesus did is, He talked about what the priest did. Whatever the reason, is unimportant. The fact is the priest passed by on the other side and did nothing. Verse 32:

V-32 – Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. Not only did they just walk by and ignore the situation, they went to the other side, so as to be as far away from the situation of need as possible – because they had more important things to do, right? But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. I mean, this is a very interesting approach to the situation. Here you have a Samaritan, whom the Jews despised, because of their manner of syncretic worship. I mean, Jesus is not condoning that, because when he met the woman at the well, He was very clear about the fact the Jews knew whom they worshipped. But when Jesus is arguing, if you will, with this lawyer, He uses a Samaritan, who may not have worshipped properly, but understood and had compassion. His point is, that…I thought about what would be the comparison today? What is the Church of God version of this? Perhaps the Samaritan would be a Sunday-keeping Christian who has compassion, albeit worships on the wrong day. I think what we learn from this is, we must be careful in knowing the truth, to become legalistic and lawyerly about it, and not having compassion and doing the things that Jesus did.

That is, at least, what we see right here. On the next day when he departed he took out two denarii – a denarius is described, in other places in the scriptures, as a day’s wages, so, in today’s terms, perhaps 2 x $150.00. …gave them to the Inn keeper and said to him, “Take care of him and whatever more you spend when I come again, I will repay you. So not only did he have compassion, he took him to the inn, bond up his wounds, paid for his overnight stay, and left additional money for that. That is compassion in action. It is doing the right thing, even though you can argue he had no responsibility to do that. After all, he was just a Samaritan. He took a risk here. Many times, when you do the right thing, you get criticized for it, and often, there are unpleasant consequences, and you get taken advantage of. I have been, and many of you have as well, but that is not the point. The point is, whether or not we are doing the right thing. Notice in verse 36:

V-36 – “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

So in the time we share this afternoon, we will take a look at what Jesus did. And no, I am not talking about His sacrifice and all of those things – not to minimize it either – it’s just that the focus this afternoon will be what Jesus did in interacting with people. I have chosen four – there are many more. So, these are four particular things that He did that we will look at, and then look at it from the perspective of not what He would do, but what He did, so that we may go and do likewise.

The first one of these is that He preached the gospel. He unapologetically preached the gospel. And I would like to add a caveat to it. He didn’t just do it – He didn’t just preach the gospel to get the message out and spread the truth. He did it to do something and accomplish a mission. He preached the gospel to do…. Let’s go over to Mark, chapter 1. If we look at the context here of Mark, chapter 1, we will notice that Jesus believed that there would be results from His preaching. Mark, chapter 1, and verse 14, is a central scripture, which we often quote – and so we should.

Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
American King James Version×
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. And this is what He said: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand – and here is the to do – repent, and believe in the gospel – change and act, because we act on what we believe. We do what we actually believe – not what we say. And notice in verse 16 – here is the immediacy and doing.

V-16 – And as He walked…. He was preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God in Galilee, and it says here, in verse 16: As He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea, for they were fisherman. Then Jesus said to them, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This harkens back to the prophet Jeremiah, in which Jeremiah said he would send out fishers and hunters and bring people in, so Jesus is echoing this. But I find it interesting that immediately after preaching, He went out and called His disciples, and they started to follow Him and things got done. You see, it is not what Jesus would do, or might do, or suggests, it is what He did do. And He did a lot in 3 ½ years. I have said this many times before. In 3 ½ years, what He did was very effective. And it was very effective, because He had more influence than any other person, in the history of man, for the amount of time He was active in teaching and ministry. He got right to it.

When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother who also were in the boat mending their nets. And immediately He called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went after Him. Then they – all of them – went into Capernaum, and immediately, on the Sabbath, He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. There was an immediacy, there was an authenticity, there was something about His teaching that was very different, because He taught the truth. He acted on it and He “hired” people to get the work done. It was not an empty message with no expectation of getting something done. After all, the message was repent – you know, wake up, shake up, change. Don’t continue to go the way you have been going.

Let’s take a look at the same account over in Matthew for just a minute – Matthew, chapter 4, verse 12:

Matthew 4:12 Matthew 4:12Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
American King James Version×
Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.

V-17 – From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers – Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother – casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Dropping down to verse 23:

V-23 – And Jesus went about all of Galilee teaching in their synagogues preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all kinds of sicknesses and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria. and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon possessed, epileptics, and paralytics, and He healed them. And a great multitude followed Him, from Galilee and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and beyond the Jordan. This message very quickly gained traction, and people followed Him, because He did things, instead of just saying things.

That comes down to us. We preach the gospel collectively as a church, but I think…I don’t know what the stats are today, but I know 20, 30 years ago, somebody did a study, and even when our media effort was much larger, more people came into the church because of individual contact with members than from all the media efforts – which I always found that to be remarkable. So, while you can’t have one without the other, it does, I think, highlight the importance of preaching the gospel as an example. What is the quote? Always preach a sermon – occasionally, use words. I mean, our actions speak much louder than our words – what we do.

I would like to look at a scripture, and then go to the final one on this point, and then put something out there for our consideration. John, chapter 6, verse 44, again, is a very central scripture on the process of coming to God. John, chapter 6, verse 44, says:

John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him, and I will raise Him up at the last day. I am sure many, if not all of you,  have experienced some form of this in trying to explain truth – that is perfectly clear to you – to someone else, and finding they just have no idea – can’t understand it – or don’t have interest – whatever the case might be. There is definitely a divine intervention – the removal of a vail – an intervention from the Father, drawing each and every one of us to understand Him in a way that perhaps other people cannot. But that does not take away the fact that we have an active role in it as well. And we see that over in Matthew, chapter 28. Here we have – beginning in verse 18 – Jesus giving His concluding charge to the disciples that were with Him.

Matthew 28:18 Matthew 28:18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
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And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” This is a very broad and compelling – and should be a liberating –   statement for us. All authority? Everything? I mean, what actually does that include? All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. I mean, that is the Jesus Christ that we are to follow. I mean, the Jesus Christ, that is so often depicted, is one that is almost an effeminate weak individual. That is a very different description from what I read in the New Testament. He had the courage, as we have already seen, to unapologetically preach the gospel. He had the courage, as a 12-year-old, to have a conversation in the temple that astonished those in His day. I believe – I just feel like, and I am speaking for myself – that we don’t do nearly enough to stand up and stand out to be who we are. We don’t have to be in people’s faces, but if you are going to be a light in a world that is dark, you are going to be noticed. The question is, do you have your dimmer on? And when you do, you are not being as effective. Jesus Christ said to His disciples “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Now, I find that word to be instructive. While it is true that God calls – and I’m not taking anything away from that, because I’ll give you an example here in a minute – while it is true that God calls, and that Christ is ultimately responsible to raise those called out ones up at the last day, and while we read in John 6 that it is the will of the Father that He loses no one, if it was all the Father and Jesus Christ, then why say, “Make disciples?” I mean, the word make implies there is an active engagement between disciples to make disciples. If someone is not called, it is pointless anyway. That doesn’t mean that we should not speak the truth, because truth, even if not understood, does not return to God empty. If you do it correctly, it does have some benefit.
 
Let me give you an example. I wrote an article – it was almost 20 years ago – regarding time and chance and tragedy around the death of our young son. I have used that a number of times and spoken often, and have been able to comfort all kinds of people from all kinds of persuasion with that story of hope. In one particular instance, I handed a copy of that article to an individual who had just lost someone in a tragic accident. A few weeks later, I asked her – I said, “Did you read the article?” She said, “Yeah, it was very helpful. I found it to be encouraging. But you know, I know he’s in heaven, but as you said in your article…” She completely missed the point, okay? But it still helped, because she found it encouraging in the context of what she understood. So, if we believe that the truth is the truth, and if we believe that God says in His word that His word will not return to Him empty, to the extent that we can share and teach verbally, but more importantly, by our actions, there is always a benefit. The outcome may not be that someone all of the sudden becomes an ardent Christian, if I may use that term, but they might become a better person. They might be encouraged and will benefit in some manner. Even if the result is, as we read in Peter, that they think we are crazy. It will still have its impact and affect. And I think this is where we need to do what Jesus did – unapologetically stand up for the truth of God. I will say a little bit more about that because I think we become intimidated. We should not be intimidated. Why should we be intimidated? Give me one good reason. If we do what Jesus did, and if we follow Jesus Christ, who declared in His last hours on earth that He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, why should we be intimidated?

V-19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things which I have commanded to you, and low I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Jesus is simply asking His disciples to do what He did. He made disciples and said that He would make them fishers of men. And indeed He did, because on Pentecost, 3,000 were baptized in one day. And they continued to take that message, as Jesus did, throughout the known world at that time, and it brought results.

So, the first thing that Jesus did is, He preached the Gospel – and so should we.

The second thing is that Jesus personified the law by doing what the law prescribes. I want to, maybe, go at this from a little bit different perspective. We think of Jesus Christ as the Savior, and so we should. We think of the Old Testament and the New, and clearly, they are two distinct books with different messages – one building on the other – certainly, not inconsistent. But one thing that we might not think of so much is – what I describe in this point – is that Jesus is the personification of the body called the Law, or the Torah, which is the first five books of the Old Testament in the writing.  He personified that.

Let’s look at John, chapter 1. Here we go back to the very beginning.
John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
American King James Version×
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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made. So we have here, the one who later became Jesus Christ, described here as existing at the very beginning – eons of time. This answers questions. If we believe this, it answers questions that no one else can. And we don’t need to apologize for this. Jumping forward to verse 14.

V-14 – And  the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” So, the Word of God – and the being that was described here as the Word –  literally became flesh, so that we would have a personification of the law – that is, someone with, shall we say, skin on, that could show us the way so that if we question what we should do, we simply need to look at the example and follow Him.

Now, let me digress for a moment. We live in a culture today that has declared God dead. The existence of God is questioned. And that was never a question for me. I have, and had other problems, but that wasn’t one of them. I sympathize with people who have become so skeptical that they question the existence of the Creator. And, of course, our educational institutions foster that. You have the scientific approach to things and a naturalistic world view. (Much to Susan’s dismay, I bought another book. She will find a place to put it.) It is written by David Berlinski. It’s been out for some time. It is titled, The Devils’ Delusion, subtitled, Atheism and its Scientific Pretentions. It is very interesting, because David Berlinski is a secular Jew. He is agnostic. He has a PhD from Princeton, and is specialized in mathematics. And he challenges the pretentions of atheism in a very interesting way. I am going to just read some excerpts. I haven’t read the entire book, so I’m going to just read some questions and answers that are on the back flap, that caught my attention.

Here is what it says, “A secular Jew Berlinski nonetheless delivers a biting defense of religious thought. An acclaimed author who spent his career writing about mathematics and sciences, he turns the scientific communities’ cherished skepticism back on itself, daring to ask and to answer some rather embarrassing questions.” I read this to encourage us. It takes more, as we will find out, it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in intelligent design. So here are some of his questions: “Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?” Have you ever thought about that? You claim God doesn’t exist? Okay, prove that to me. “Has anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close.” But you know, you go back to John chapter 1. John chapter 1 has an explanation – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. That’s a declarative statement of fact

So, if you believe that is not so, isn’t the burden of proving the inexistence of God on the atheist, not on the believer? You see, asking or challenging these questions is one of the reasons I am reading the book, as he turns the questions around. Continuing: “Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good? Not even close to being close. Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ballpark. Is a scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”

You see, we need to be careful that we do not get intimidated by intellectualism masquerading as fact, when in fact, there are not very many answers behind it. True science, using a scientific method, is based on truth. That’s how you prove gravity. That’s how you prove the laws of physics. That’s why, in my laboratory, you can measure holes in a piece of steel that you can’t even push air through. You can take the smallest atom, called helium, and you sprinkle it on, and you put it under vacuum, and the helium atom is able to go through crevices in the grain structure of metal. And you do it repeatedly. You can measure and calculate. You can calculate the leak rate over a period of twenty years at a given pressure, and it will repeat every time. You see, that’s what science is about – which actually, when you start looking at all the complexities of these kinds of things, the idea that it all came into being by some big cosmic accident makes no sense.

I think it is important for us to equip ourselves to be able to counter questions like that. So, you don’t believe in God?  Okay, you don’t believe God exists. Prove it to me. Prove to me why God does not exist, instead of asking me to prove that God does exist. I mean, it’s a fair question.

Coming back to John, chapter 1, Jesus Christ personified the law by doing. In John, chapter 14,  He echoes thisJohn, chapter 14- when Thomas, the classic sceptic, challenged Him – verse 3:

John 14:3 John 14:3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
American King James Version×
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also. And where I go you know and the way you know. Thomas said to Him. “Lord we do not know where You are going and how can we know the way?” I’m glad Thomas asked this question. Another thing that, also, is important: we should not be intimidated by questions or criticism, because skeptical questions – skeptical questions, like the one Thomas framed here – caused Jesus Christ to give an answer that crystalizes the truth of the matter. He said, I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. So, Jesus Christ personified everything that is written in the Torah. I don’t know about you, but for me, it has always been much easier – call it monkey see, monkey do – it is a lot easier for this monkey to do something, if I see another monkey do it for me. Pardon the pun. It is just easier for me to learn something if I see someone else do it, and then through practice, begin to follow it. It is following what someone did, instead of asking a theoretical question of what someone would do, and then trying to interpret that into action. From the time we ask the question, “Would…,” until we get it into the action, there is a lot of room not only for error but also deception. That’s why I say, “When you say, ‘What would Jesus do?’ you are asking the wrong question.” The right question is, “What did Jesus do?” He personified the law for us.

Let’s go over to Matthew, chapter 5 – Matthew, chapter 5, and verse 1:

Matthew 5:1 Matthew 5:1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came to him:
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And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain and when He was seated, His disciples came to Him, and He opened His mouth and taught them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Here in these so-called beatitudes, He articulates principles that are counter intuitive. The meek inherit the earth? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. That’s just wonderful, isn’t it? I mean, you do the right thing and you get persecuted for it. It says here that you are to rejoice. I want somebody with skin on to show me how to do that. “Rejoice! I am getting persecuted.” How many times – a challenge – how many of you have called up your friends and said, “I am so happy! I have just been rejoicing all morning. You know why? I am getting persecuted at work.” I am getting persecuted at work for righteousness sake and I am just so exceptionally happy today. Verse 13:

V-13 – You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing, but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand and it give light to all who are in the house. When you are a light, you dispel darkness. Have you ever noticed that? Have you ever had a situation in which you turned on the light and the darkness stayed? You turn on the light and darkness pushes back and covers the light. These are truisms that are subject to the laws of physics, and on a spiritual level, it’s the same way. If you are a light, and you disperse darkness, you can expect to have some pushback. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Verse 17:

V-17 – Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the law by living a life that personified it, so that we could do likewise. I mean, the notion that this somehow fulfills the laws and the principles that He modeled for us, somehow abolishes them, is incoherent. It makes no sense, because it is not true. For assuredly I say to you till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven. That was a radical provocative statement. Think about it. The scribes and the Pharisees were the powerful religious leaders at the time. And He said, if your righteousness does not exceed theirs, you won’t be in the kingdom of heaven. I am sure the Pharisees appreciated this comment – and the Sadducees. And He gives an example. Here you have the personification of the law. This is what Jesus did, not just what He taught.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not murder and whoever murders will be in danger of judgment. But I say to you whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go your way, first to be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

This sets a really high standard. I mean, Jesus Christ is nailed to the cross, and dying there, and said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” So, when we read in the Old Testament, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and when the lawyer answered the question in our introduction, that that is what you should do, Jesus Christ did not abolish that. He personified what it looks like when you do that. We don’t have to ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” because He did what we should do. The question, “What did Jesus do?” is a much better question in the first place, because “What would…” has that tentative approach. The question, “What did Jesus do?” uses two forms of the word to be in the same sentence – What did He do? and then, you do it yourself. What Jesus did, in this particular case, is He redefined the law from the letter, that can so easily be “legalized” to make it a basis for a debate on what He would do, as opposed to what He did do, and moved it to what is commonly known as the spirit and the intent of the law. While the commandment says, you shall not murder, when you look at the source for murder, it goes much deeper than the act itself. It is preceded by a thought process and the emotions of hate that eventually turn into action. He condemns both and lived it.

The third thing He did: He healed the sick by touching them. He connected with people and did not pull back away from them. What we tend to do, when we get criticized, or when controversy emerges, or difficult situations happen, we go into what you call the bunker mentality. Again, I mentioned earlier that we preach and teach the truth always, because there are people who have discovered certain biblical principles that work and make them successful. I had an instance this past week where a situation arose, and turned into what was becoming a very controversial and tense situation. The tendency would be – it involved a customer and all of those kinds of things –  the tendency would be to just think they are outrageous, and they are unreasonable, “How can you can say this?” all of the above – all of which were true. The human tendency, when controversy arises, is that people pull back. “I’m just not going to say anything. It is not my responsibility. I am just not going to get involved.” Does that solve anything? Who is helped by that approach?

What I found interesting was, one of our account managers – and I have observed this on a number of occasions – has been very successful. And he has been successful because, when there is controversy and conflict, instead of withdrawing, he gets engaged. The first thing he does is he goes there. Did we read that somewhere? What does the Bible say? Go to your brother. That works wherever you apply it. So, what did he do? He packed two people in the car and he went to the point of the controversy. Inside of 30 minutes, it was discovered that there was a miscommunication, and that there really wasn’t a problem after all. One person thought the other person said something, and had some facts mixed up in their mind, and when everybody sat down and they went through all – it had to do with timelines – when something needed to be delivered – there was a misunderstanding and “Boy, it doesn’t seem like we have a problem at all.” But if he had not gone to – we can call it – his brother and said, “Look, let’s work through this,” it would have turned into a big mess. Jesus Christ did this and taught this. I’m a little bit off track here, but to bring it back to the point, when He healed the sick…the first case we are going to look at is over in Luke, chapter 5 - He heals a leper. Now leprosy is a very contagious disease. Luke, chapter 5, verse 12:

 Luke 5:12 Luke 5:12And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and sought him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.
American King James Version×
And it happened when He was in a certain city that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus, and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord if You are willing You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying “I am willing. Be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. So here you have a combination of physical touch and miraculous intervention. Jesus did not pull back. He reached out and touched. He connected with the individual and healed him. There are other cases where Jesus just spoke the word and someone was healed, but in most cases, He combined His spiritual power of healing with the comfort of physical touch.

Notice…let’s go over to Matthew, chapter 20 – Matthew, chapter 20, and verse 29:

Matthew 20:29 Matthew 20:29And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
American King James Version×
Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him, and behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David.” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet, but they cried out all the more…. You know, “This is the great teacher, He doesn’t have time to mess with you guys. Be quiet, be quiet.” How often do we see that in scripture? You know, where His handlers were trying to help Him do His thing. Whether it was lepers, or blind men, or children, He always had time to connect. Then the multitude warned them they should be quiet, but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So Jesus stood still and called them, and said “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes, and immediately their eyes received sight and they followed Him – the healing power of touch. It has now been medically proven. You have the scientific study where you have infants that nobody touches, and they die, because they need that touch. The comfort of physical touch reduces anxiety, reduces high blood pressure and a whole host of other things. Jesus combined that with the spiritual miraculous power that He also had to give healing.

We can and should connect with people, because when we do, there is a certain amount of healing that occurs. When you run, when you go, when you avoid…. What do you do when you hear that somebody is criticizing you? Do you want to know who it was? Or, don’t you want to know? You should want to know. Because, if you don’t know who is upset with you, or disappointed, or whatever the case might be, there is not opportunity for reconciliation. You can’t go to a brother or sister to be reconciled if you don’t know who they are. And yet, that is our normal human tendency – avoidance, when we should be looking out to connect. If you are upset with me, I want to know, so we can talk about it, understand why and fix the problem. It does nobody any good to stay upset and not know.

James, chapter 5 – here is the healing and the methodology that we are very familiar with – James, chapter 5, verse 14:

James 5:14 James 5:14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
American King James Version×
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. That is what we are to do. You call the elders to anoint. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And, if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess you trespasses to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. We read one of those scriptures – several of those – in the announcements. Here is one of those passages that we have, I think, to our discredit, dissected. “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” This is one of those snippets. That’s true, but this is written in the context of sickness and healing. Confess your trespasses one to another and pray for one another that you will be healed. Typically, what we have here is, “Confess your trespasses to one another.” It is not often connected to healing. You see, our lives need to be looked at in a holistic manner.

When we are sick and get anointed and are healed, it says, “And if we have sinned….” It doesn’t say that all sickness is related to sin, as some have suggested. I had the painful situation of someone we knew very well in Germany, that they lost their 2-year-old to cancer. It was just a horrible, horrible situation. And we knew them very well, and I told them, “Someone – be prepared – someone is, either intentionally or accidentally, going to say something that is really hurtful.” That is just the way things work. Then sometime later we had another conversation, and he said, “You were right.” Someone in the church said to the mom, “If you had only prayed better, this would never have happened.” It’s a very good thing I did not know who it was, because I would have come out swinging. Even if that were true – which it wasn’t - even if that were true, any thinking human being would not say that to a mother who lost a 2-year-old, for whatever reason. So, while it is not true that all sickness is a result of sin, it is equally not true to state that sickness cannot be from sin. I mean, somebody might get sick because they are guilty of the sin of gluttony, which is a sin that we don’t often talk about. The promise here is, that even if that is true, the sin can be forgiven. There is the interaction – the confession of trespasses, all of which, particularly in emotional situations, contribute to healing. Jesus reached out. He connected. He healed the sick and He touched people.
 
Point number 4: He fed the people by giving them food. Mark, chapter 9, verse 32…go to Matthew 15, chapter 15, verse 32.

Matthew 15:32 Matthew 15:32Then Jesus called his disciples to him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
American King James Version×
Jesus called His disciples to Himself, and said “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” Jesus said, “Let’s feed them.” The disciples said, “We don’t have enough food.” It was true. Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven and a few little fishes.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples, and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and they were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who are were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.

What we see here…I mean, obviously, I don’t expect that we can repeat the miracle here. I mean you have seven loaves of bread – not even Wonder Bread is going to be able to get that done. And you start giving thanks, and you spread it around, and you end up having more left over than when you started. That was a miracle performed by Christ. But, we also live in a world of abundance, where I don’t think there is anyone in this room that does not have enough sustenance to share what they have. All Jesus asked the disciples to do was to bring Him the seven loaves that they had. Then He, by giving thanks and dividing it, performed a miracle so that it went all around. These people had just followed Him. They were, shall we say, taking advantage of Him. He fed them because they were hungry. You could say, “What a big failure! Because at the end of His life, and the day of Pentecost, while He had healed hundreds and fed thousands, only 120 were left.” But it was still the right thing to do.

We do what Jesus did, with the means that He has given us, and then He can multiply it. Years and years ago, an elder in the church asked me, “John, what is five times zero?” I said, “ Zero. What? You think I don’t know my times tables?” He said, “What is five times two?” I said, “Ten.” He said, “This is how God works. He can only multiply your efforts. If you put in zero effort, no matter how much God tries to work, the result is going to be zero. If you put in an effort of one or two – or the more effort you put in – the more He is able to multiply it.” When we stop asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” and start acting on what we know He did, He is able to multiply our efforts. Jesus preached the gospel, He personified the law. He healed the sick. He fed the people. And somehow, it seems that this connects to what matters.

We have two scriptures to wrap up. Matthew, chapter 7, verse 21:

Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Here you have people who prophesied in name of Jesus Christ, who preached in His name, who did many wonders in His name, but did not follow what Jesus Christ did – particularly in the aspect of the personification of the law – and at the end of day, when it really matters, Jesus Christ said, and will say, “I don’t know you.”

So, let’s go over to Matthew, chapter 25 – Matthew, chapter 25, verse 31:

Matthew 25:31 Matthew 25:31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:
American King James Version×
When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food.” Did Jesus Christ do that? Yes, He did. He gave people food, because they were hungry. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in.

This connects right back to the story. The Levites and the Priest did not take the stranger in. He may have prophesied in God’s name, but he did not take the stranger in. He didn’t give him food. He didn’t bandage him up. He did not have compassion. At the end of the day, this is what Jesus says matters. I was naked and you clothed Me. I was sick and you visited Me. I was in prison and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe You? Or, when did we see You sick or in prison and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you in as much as you did it to one of the least of these, My brethren, you did it to Me.”

It is not about what Jesus would do, rather it is about what Jesus did do, and whether or not we do likewise – not to the masses, but to the least of those among our brethren.

Comments

  • twocents
    Great message! In 1990 a survey like this was done at the Feast of Tabernacles with these results - More members came into contact with the Church through another member than through our media outreach! "That comes down to us. We preach the gospel collectively as a church, but I think…I don’t know what the stats are today, but I know 20, 30 years ago, somebody did a study, and even when our media effort was much larger, more people came into the church because of individual contact with members than from all the media efforts – which I always found that to be remarkable."
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