When I was asked to prepare a teaching, i spent some time thinking about what I was going to talk about and then once i figured out my big picture I had to come up with a good title. My first title was “The practical application of the life of Jesus Christ.” That sounded good, but it was a little too wordy and maybe more like a college lecture. Then i moved on to “Jesus was a man” but that seemed a little bit too simple and if taken out of context, a little sacrilegious.  So i then I came up with this original brand new phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” and then I was like hey that has a pretty slick sounding acronym WWJD, I’ll go with that. {As if i didn’t have at least 3 bracelets in elementary school and middle school with those initials on it.)

A lot of times when we think of Jesus, we think of him being God. He is the savior of the world. He performed tons of miracles. These are all great things and these stories are the ones that stick with us about Jesus because of how out of the ordinary they are compared to our typical every day life. Through this often times we can lose our relatability to him. We have to remember that Jesus was fully God AND fully man. Although this still hurts my brain every time I try to think about it and wrap my head around it, it is true. Jesus is God and while here on earth, Jesus was a man. Today I am going to focus on that second part. We are going to almost set aside the deity of Jesus and focus on his humanity and how he handled different situations. He dealt with all the emotions and struggles that we deal with on a daily basis and I want to talk about some of those situations today and that brings us back to my title of today’s sermon “What would Jesus Do?”

  1. Friends letting him down  His disciples in garden of gethsemane

            He is asking his friends during a time of struggle to be there for him, to stand              with him, and pray with him. But they fall asleep. He comes back ad asks them again to be there for him, but once again they fall asleep. They aren’t intentionally letting him down, but he needed them to be there for him in his time of struggle. Instead of getting angry at them or being depressed because the closest people in the world to him weren’t there for him, he turned to God who will never let us down no matter what.

2. Dealing with authority

Parents- Luke 2:51-52

Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. 

He has the most authority in the universe, but he lives respectfully with and under his parents because that is where he was placed. 

We are to respect the authority under which we are placed. romans 13:1 “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (that verse is speaking in the context of governmental officials but I believe we can apply it to all different types of authorities.)

I had someone at work ask me how I could follow and work for my boss because he doesn’t have the qualities of a great leader. They said he doesn’t treat people fairly. They questioned my faith stating that following a man like that does not match with a “Judeo-Christian worldview.” This exact point was my response. I am called to be obedient to the authority placed over me. Unless I am being told to do something that is specifically against my beliefs, I am placed under that authority until one of us is no longer in our current positions.

3. Dealing with anguish and loss (j the b and Lazarus and his father)

There are 3 specific instances of him dealing with the loss of a loved one that i want to look at briefly:

Joseph- although we are not told specifically that he died, we can assume that he died at some point before Jesus’ ministry began because he is not mentioned. His mother and siblings are all mentioned, but Joseph is not. Then when Jesus dies on the cross he tells John to take care of his mother. This would not have been needed if his father was still living. Although we don’t read about this event and his response, I think it is important to realize that he knows the pain of losing his earthly father.

Lazarus- we all know the story of Lazarus’ death. The easiest verse in the bible to memorize as a kid was John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” Now there can be an entire sermon preached on these two words, but i believe one of the reasons this was included in scripture was to show his humanity and feeling the pain of loss of a close friend.

John the Baptist- biologically, he was Jesus’ 2nd cousin. He was family. He was the one who baptized him. His ministry paralleled Jesus’, so it was like they were both pastors of closely related churches. This series of events surrounding John’s death is one of those that i read a thousand times, but the realization of it didn’t hit me until recently.

Matthew 14:12-14,23

John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick…23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

He felt the pain of the loss and was going away to a quiet place but he had compassion on the people and despite his pain, continued to pour out. He preached. He prayed. He healed. He fed the 5000. Then he sent them all away and finally went to pray by himself. He mourned and grieved, but didn’t let it keep him from doing what he needed to do.

4. Temptation and stress

-Satan tempting him with bread while fasting. Matt 4 you can read that, but essentially, he is at the end of a 40 day fast. He is HUNGRY. Ive done a total food fast a few times, but not for 40 days. But let me tell you if you’ve never done one, there are points where you are just itching to put some solid food in your mouth. The temptation is very real. But instead of giving in to temptation, he resisted and relied on scripture for strength.

-Even in the garden of gethsemane. He prays, take this cup from me. Clearly the temptation was there to walk away and not go through the coming anguish. He knew what was coming, the pain he was going to endure, but he made the conscious decision to stay and continue to pray and not leave.

Can you imagine how stressful that would be? I get stressed out when I know I am going to have a hard day at work because I have a lot of patients to take care of any my co-worker is on maternity leave. That is NOTHING in comparison to knowing you are going to be whipped beyond recognition and ultimately killed. He dealt with it in the best way possible. He prayed. He took his stress to God. I should also point out that being stressed is not sinful. Allowing that stress overwhelm us and take our focus off of God is when we get in trouble. 

The same is true of temptation. Being tempted is not inherently sinful. A lot of times we see temptation as failure. Its not. Succumbing to temptation is when we fall into sin. When we lean into that temptation rather than turning our back on it, we fall into sin.

5. Peer pressure 

Matt 9:10-12 

10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

They were essentially saying you are supposed to be this wise spiritual leader. We’ve heard you speak, you know what you’re talking about but don’t you realize that being with these types of people doesn’t look good for you. WHAT ARE YOU DOING…? Instead of succumbing to that and thinking you know what, I might lose followers if they see me with tax collectors. The people hate tax collectors, maybe ill just stick to speaking in the synagogues where the people will all follow and respect me. He said these people are the reason I am here. These are the broken who need to know they are loved.

He also didn’t go into situations like this alone. He always had his disciples with him. You are accountable to each other an also had people there to verify what happened in case someone were to falsify events.

Mark 6:3

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Don’t let anyone else label you as something. Jesus knew who he was and he didn’t let those who saw him as “the carpenter” or “mary’s boy” limit his ministry. They limited themselves and he didn’t minister as much in Nazareth because of their unbelief, but he didn’t let them limit him. 

We need to know who we are. We are Gods children. We have authority through him. God lives IN us. If we don’t know who we are, then when anyone labels us, we allow them to diminish who we really are. The only one whom we should allow to pressure us is not our peer. He is most definitely our superior. Now he may use those around us to shape and mold us, but we always need to take everything to him to make sure it is from him before we allow it to affect or change us.

6. Being a good student 

His ministry didn’t start until his 30s what do you think he was doing before then? The only verse we have describing his life in this interim was one we read earlier Luke 2:51-52 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. 

We can deduce what was going on at this time. His father was a carpenter and other people referred to him as the carpenter, so he must have learned the carpentry trade after finishing the classic Jewish boy school at the local synagogue learning the old testament and the jewish laws and traditions.

7. Dealing with oppressive government

Roman empire- There have been very few governments throughout history in my study that have been as controlling as the roman empire if you did not fall in line exactly with what they wanted you to do. 

Just for a simple example: Matt5:41

If anyone forces you to go with him one mile, go with him two miles. 

If a Roman soldier asked you to carry his backpack a mile, you were legally obligated to stop what you were doing pick up his backpack and carry it for him or you would have been flogged 

He was saying don’t fight them, don’t avoid them, love them. Be different. Make them wonder why you love them so then that can open the door to tell about God’s love.

The centurion- he had the governmental authority over everyone there, but because he saw the authority in Jesus given him by God and the respect with which Jesus dealt with him, he also gave respect.

8. Political controversy 

Jewish politics came down to religion: Sadducees, Pharisees, and “the way”

They posed loaded questions to him in order to start a fight and condemn him. Instead of creating a heated debate, he would either pose questions back to them to make them think more deeply about the idea or answer their question in a wise and thoughtful manner. What he did NOT do was respond quickly and rashly. 

Proverbs 15:1,18-A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

He was a living example of both of these verses. He could have easily escalated the situation, but he kept his cool and answered calmly and wisely.

Mark 12:18-34 discussion about the resurrection

Matt 12:9-12 working on the sabbath (that we just talked about)

Jesus wasn’t ALWAYS “nice” with how he responded.  Jesus flipping tables and chasing the money changers out of the temple with a whip. That wasn’t exactly a “de-escalating” response. There is a time for a response like this. Anger can be a sign of love and passion. It can be one of the greatest expressions of a caring heart. It CAN be an acceptable response when in defense of or protecting something as opposed to attacking.  Paraphrased from “A Gentle Answer” by Scott Sauls

9. Being overworked

Now i have been with Pastor Tim on many mission trips, some are more strenuous than others, but most importantly for this point, I have been with him in Russia. When you land in Russia after traveling for approximately 23 hours, you get picked up and probably taken to a speaking engagement right away. If you’re lucky, you will get a couple hours of sleep. Each day, he ministers in one way or another for around 12-16 hours, after 1 day he’s tired, after 1 week he’s exhausted… Jesus did this for 3 YEARS. He handled it with poise. Full of grace, love, and patience.

10. Dealing with infectious diseases 

Leprosy. It is a disease that is most likely spread by airborne droplets from sneezing or coughing. At the time it required isolation if infected or under suspicion of infection. Does that sound familiar to anyone? You can read all about the extent to which the Israelites went in Leviticus chapter 13. Basically it required getting checked by the priest, then isolation for a time, then checked again, and more isolation until you were either healed or exiled to prevent further spread of the disease. 

But do you know what Jesus did when he saw these people? He went and prayed for them despite the societal norms of distancing from them because they were sick. He ministered to them and loved on them. He prayed for them and healed them. 

That story is found in Matt 8:1-4 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy[a] came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.

11. He was betrayed. 

Judas. We all know the story of Judas and how he betrayed Jesus, but we don’t always think about the events leading up to that moment. Jesus prayed and washed the feet of his disciples INCLUDING JUDAS whom he KNEW was going to betray him. He knew that he was the one who would turn his back on him, but he still knelt before him and washed his feet as his servant. How many of us would have that grace and poise? If one of our friends or co-workers even says something bad about us and we find out, we are indignant. We get angry and want to get back at them. Jesus knew that he was going to turn him in to be killed. He knew before Judas even knew that he was really going to go through with it. Still he got down on his knees, humbled himself before him, and served him by washing his feet.

12. He was killed.

Now, obviously none of us have been through this, but we can imagine the pain. Physical, mental, and emotional pain. Being whipped beyond recognition, nailed to a cross, hung on that cross so that to get a breath you have to push up on the nail in your feet. Being separated from God the father because of the sin that he took for us.  It is actually impossible for me to truly imagine the depth of the pain he must have been in. But still, he prayed to God for those around him. For forgiveness for his tormentors. He showed love to the thief who was hung with him. He continued to love through his pain and ultimately his death. Not just love for his friends. Not just love for his followers. He poured out love even on those who hated him and nailed him to the cross and insulted him while he died. That should be the ultimate example for all of us. When all else fails, when everything around us is terrible, we still have the strength and the power to love.

Yes he was God, but we can’t forget that he was fully man as well. We often lose sight of that amidst the stories of all the miracles he performed. We see the God side, but we lose sight of the fact that he was a man and dealt with all the things that we deal with on a regular basis. I have presented multiple different situations. I would bet that everyone here could relate to at least one of these situations, most people probably more than one. If something that I said today struck a chord inside you and you feel like you need or want prayer to help you understand the heart of Jesus better and how he would respond, we will have members of our ministry team up here available to pray with you. But i would challenge every single one of us to really think “what would Jesus do” as we go through our days this week. When we are at work, when we are at the store, when we are trying to get our kids to go to bed. In every situation, that should always be our thought process and our hearts cry. We are called to be Jesus to those around us and show his heart, his love. “What would Jesus do?”