WWJD - What Would Jesus Do?
by Rich Deem

Is that what we should do?

WWJD is a very popular expression, especially among young Christians. I am going to suggest that we, as mere humans, should not be doing everything that the Lord did. Before you e-mail me with your complaints, let's look at a recent example, when I was challenged with this question.

Our family had gone to spend some time with my outlaws in-laws. They tend to be very critical, and had complained about various things that we had or had not done for about 24 hours straight. The day that we were to leave, I was attacked for leaving out a felt marker and dragging a bed across the carpet (neither of which resulted in any damage). I had had enough, so I continued packing at a much accelerated pace. My wife came up to me and suggested that I go apologize to them. Then she asked me what would Jesus do. I thought for a second and said that I knew for a fact that Jesus would not apologize. I added that Jesus never did apologize, since He never did anything wrong. Obviously, never having done anything wrong did not apply to me!

This is just one example of when the answer to the question, "What would Jesus do?" would not apply to us. Just because Jesus never apologized to anyone doesn't mean that we should not.1

Likewise, there are some things that Jesus did that we should not do. Jesus is God. We are not. Jesus proclaimed His authority from His deity.2 We can only proclaim our authority through the deity of Jesus.3 The difference is not a subtle one.

Jesus was constantly accusing people of being hypocrites.4 I am not saying that we should never do this. However, since He was omniscient, Jesus knew when people were being hypocrites, whereas we can only guess. Jesus warned us not to judge other people unless we could be sure that our judgment was correct.5 If we judge someone incorrectly, we are threatened with a similar judgment by God.6 Obviously, we should not judge people unless we are absolutely certain that we are correct - something that is not possible for us humans.7

The concept of "What would Jesus do?" is not completely without merit for disciples of Jesus Christ. We are to have the mind of Christ.8 However, to know what Jesus would do, we would need to know what Jesus did do. Jesus is not a modern humanist interpretation of righteousness. Jesus is the reality of the eternal morality of God. Those who claim to do what Jesus would do, must know the New Testament in detail, preferably with an insight on first century Jewish culture. The truths of the New Testament transcend the culture of first century Israel, but the interpretation and understanding of the details of the parables and stories can only be understood with knowledge of the culture of the day. For example, the parable of the prodigal son is a powerful example of the love and forgiveness of God. However, the extent and depth of that love can be fully understood only when examining the parable from a first century Jewish perspective.

In conclusion, I would like to propose that we believers do what Jesus told us to do, rather than what Jesus Himself might do. The standard should be WDJTUTD - What did Jesus tell us to do? I don't think the new initials will fly, but hopefully we believers would be willing to do what Jesus told us.

References Top of page

  1. "If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24)
  2. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18)
    "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36)
    "But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"... (Matthew 9:6)
    and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)
    "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:8)
    Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." (John 8:58)
    "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. (Matthew 16:27)
    Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
    Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." (John 14:6-7)
    "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
    "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)
    "And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. (John 17:5)
    "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. (John 13:13)
  3. He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. (Matthew 10:1)
    When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, (Luke 9:1)
    For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:2)
    To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations-- (Revelation 2:26)
  4. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. (Matthew 6:2)
    You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: (Matthew 15:7)
    But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? (Matthew 22:18)
    "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. (Matthew 23:13)
    "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. (Matthew 23:15)
    "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. (Matthew 23:27)
    He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:51)
  5. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matthew 7:1)
  6. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2)
  7. ...Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge uprightly among men? (Psalm 58:1)
    You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. (Romans 14:10)
    Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it. (James 4:11)
  8. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE SHOULD INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

We are what we think.

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Last updated November 25, 2006


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