WWJRD?- What Would Jesus REALLY Do?


 What Would Jesus REALLY Do?

by Rev. Renee Pittelli

           Why is it that when we ask ourselves, “What Would Jesus Do?”, the Jesus that almost always comes to mind is the Jesus we have read about in the gospels of the apostles?  Later, I will discuss how we then go on to  misinterpret what the gospels reveal about our Lord’s nature by seeing him only as endlessly forgiving and patient with everyone, and so meek that he placidly allowed himself to be dragged away to his own death.  But first, let me pose this question- When we ask ourselves, “What Would Jesus Do?”, why do we never think of the Jesus of The Book of Revelation- a great and mighty warrior, righteous and just, awesome and powerful, who will gather his saints to him to live in paradise, and throw everything evil- men and women, demons and devils- into the lake of fire for all eternity?

            Part of the problem is that many of us don’t read Revelation.  It is sometimes difficult to understand, but much of this can be overcome by reading and comparing the different versions of the Bible (King James, NIV, NASB, NLT,etc.), using a study guide, and praying for understanding from the Holy Spirit, who will open our eyes and make all Scripture accessible to us.

            Some people have admitted to me that they don’t read Revelation because, quite frankly,  it scares them.   I truly believe this is the biggest reason many of us feel reluctant to study this book.  Let’s face it, reading about the end of the world and Armageddon certainly sounds terrifying.  It seems few of us stick it out long enough to get through the “frightening stuff” and read Revelation’s magnificent and glorious ending.  All fears and sorrows will be gone.  Our joy will be unsurpassed in that day- Praise and Glory to our Lord and God!

          On the Lord’s Day, I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet….And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.  His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.  Then he placed his right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”….Revelation 1: 10, 12-18 NIV

       Hmmm, so far, Jesus is not sounding so meek and mild!

            “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.  The nations were angry; and your wrath has come.  The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great- and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”…Revelation 11:17-18 NIV

       Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.  Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done.  Mix her a double portion from her own cup.  Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself.  In her heart she boasts, “I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.”  Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:  death, mourning and famine.  She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.”….Revelation 18: 4-8 (concerning the Fall of Babylon)

       And so we learn that Jesus is not endlessly forgiving and patient, and he is most certainly not forgiving and patient where evil and wickedness is concerned.  Jesus does not forgive EVERYONE.  Those who do not repent, accept Jesus as their Lord, and change their ways are NOT forgiven.

          Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.  Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened.  Another book was opened, which is the book of life.  The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

       Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride and beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ” Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

       He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  He said to me: “It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death….Revelation 20:11-21:8 NIV

       When we think of Jesus, many of us picture a passive, meek, gentle man.  In some of our minds, Jesus was the first hippie- believing in peace at all costs.  We see him as being placid, quiet, unassuming, low-key, complacent, and serene even in the face of interrogation, false accusations, torture, suffering, and death.

            I don’t feel that the gospels support this view of Jesus’ nature at all.  Jesus is not some wishy-washy milquetoast who lets everyone do whatever they want and never speaks up. He is the King of Kings, and he acts like the King of Kings!  He is at all times in control and command of what is going on around him.  And he is Master, Teacher. Rabbi.  How could he possibly teach us right from wrong if all he did was keep silent when we were doing something wrong?

             Selective memory appears to be the culprit.  It seems as if almost all of us remember the compassion, mercy, kindness and love that Jesus had for the poor, the weak, the suffering, the children, the humble, and the sorrowful, the widows and orphans.  But for some reason we tend to forget the firm stand he always took against wickedness.  I can’t picture Jesus casting out a demon by asking it politely to please leave- nothing personal and no offense intended, just please go, if you don’t mind!   That is not at all how Jesus dealt with evil.  From rebuking and harsh words for sinners and evildoers, to driving out demons, Jesus was far from patient and meek- he was mighty and powerful, and always took a firm and decisive stand against evil behavior:

       Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers’”…Luke 19:45NIV

       Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!  Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?  If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?  He who belongs to God hears what God says.  The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God….John 8:43-47NIV

       Notice that Jesus has no problem calling a liar a liar:

       Though you do not know him, I know him.  If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word…John 8:55NIV

       Jesus was, and is,  GOD, and during the time he walked among us, he acted like GOD!   Can you imagine God standing by and silently watching abuse?   He was our Savior, and he acted like a Savior!  He was our Teacher, and he taught us!  He spoke the truth no matter what the opposition might be.  He was righteous and just.  He did not pussy-foot around wrongdoers, no matter how powerful they were.  He never protected wrongdoers by silence, or covered up for them, and he admonished us not to, either. He did not look the other way and ignore unacceptable behavior in order to “keep the peace”.  He instructed us to bring evil deeds into the light and reveal them.  Jesus was outspoken, firm, and strong.  He did not mince words, and he called a spade a spade!:

       Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.  What you have just said is quite true…..Yet a time is coming and is now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”…John 4:17, 23-24NIV

       I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!  Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but division.  From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.  They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law….Luke 12:49-53NIV

       So do not be afraid of them.  There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs…Matthew 10:26-27NIV

       Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs…Luke 12:1-3NIV

       Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law- a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.  Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me…Matthew 10:34-38NIV

       When faced with wrongdoing, bad behavior, and wicked people, some of us ask ourselves What Would Jesus Do?  And then we use what we imagine would be Jesus’ reaction to justify being “tolerant” or “patient” with wrongdoers.  Sometimes we tolerate abuse because we think we are the only target and we “can take it”.  But that is seldom true- most abusive people abuse several, if not many, others, not just us.  That is their pattern of behavior, and we owe it to ourselves, as well as other innocent victims, to take a stand.

            Jesus was never tolerant or patient with wrongdoers.  We think that Jesus always tried to “keep the peace” but that is not true at all.  Jesus never backed away from a conflict.  He did not hesitate to rebuke a sinner. He himself instructs us to rebuke wrongdoers.  Jesus makes a point of telling us to forgive IF THERE IS REPENTANCE (Luke 17:3).  He never tells us to be endlessly patient with abusers or to stick around for more abuse; in actuality, he clearly tells us to avoid and shun those who continue in their bad behavior and  who refuse to listen to our rebuke:

       Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of the Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Than I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”…Matthew 7:21-23NIV

       If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.  If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town…Matthew 10:14-15NIV

       And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them…Mark 6:11NIV

            If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one of two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector…Matthew 18: 15-17NIV

       Jesus did not hesitate to rebuke even his own apostles:

            “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, whom though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him)…John 6:70-71NIV

       When Jesus needed to be strong, his words were harsh.  His firm rebuke and strict words did not mean he didn’t still love those he chastised.  Loving and rebuke are not mutually exclusive.   Listen to his rebuke of his beloved apostle Simon Peter:

       Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”…Matthew 16:23NIV

       So we see that by Jesus’ example, we can love someone and still call them on it when they do wrong.

            Do these words sound like they come from an endlessly patient and tolerant Jesus?:

            You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to hell?…Matthew 23:33NIV

       You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?  For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned….Matthew 12:34-37NIV

       I don’t know about you, but Jesus’ words sound pretty tough to me.  Probably his strongest rebukes were recorded in the Seven Woes of the Pharisees.  Some of them are:

            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.  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: 13-15NIV

       Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You give a tenth of your spices- mint, dill and cumin.  But you have neglected the more important matters of the law- justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former. You blind guides!  You strain out the gnat but swallow a camel. ….You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean….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.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness….Matthew 23: 23-27NIV

       We know that Jesus laid down his life for us, and we have no doubts about his forgiveness of sinners.  But we err in thinking that his forgiveness extends to ALL sinners.  The forgiveness and redemption of Jesus only applies to sinners WHO HAVE REPENTED from their evil ways and have chosen to believe in him and follow him.  Unrepentant sinners who continue in their wickedness are NOT forgiven and are NOT saved.

            When we think of Jesus being falsely accused  and persecuted by the Jews, interrogated by Pilate, tortured and humiliated by the Roman soldiers, and finally dragged off and crucified, it certainly seems as if his patience with these people was endless.  After all, he is God- why doesn’t he stop them?  He does indeed seem to be a passive, meek person who will put up with just about anything.  He could strike them all dead in the blink of an eye, but he just takes their abuse.  Jesus seemed passive and patient, because he was intentionally acting passive and patient.  He allowed himself to be treated this way in order to fulfill the Scriptures so that we might be saved by his precious blood.  Those who persecuted and murdered him were just pawns in the drama that needed to be played out so that we could believe that Jesus was the Son of God.  Their part in abusing him served his purpose, and so he permitted it:

            Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am….John 14:1-3

       Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live…John 14:19NIV

       If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.  I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.  I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming.  He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me…John 14: 28-31NIV

             Jesus did not meekly allow himself to be tortured and killed.  To think that would be the same as thinking our Savior was weak and cowardly.  On the contrary, what it did prove was that Jesus was incredibly strong and courageous.  Although he knew what was to come and desired to be spared such horrible suffering if there was any other way, he knew what he had to do to save us, and he did it.  He loved us so much that he laid down his life for us, knowing how much pain and suffering he would have to endure.  This is not a passive man who refuses to put up a fight.  This is someone who is tough-as-nails.  His murder IS his fight, the fight he was destined for, the fight for our salvation, and Jesus did not back down from this fight.   Before the fall of man, the wheels had been set in motion for the ultimate showdown between good and evil, between Jesus and Satan, which we learn about in the Book of Revelation.  Without the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the rest of the prophecies would not be fulfilled.  We would not be spending eternity in the presence of our glorious Lord, and the final triumph of God over Satan, good over evil, would not happen.

            It was Jesus’ destiny to fight evil on a cosmic level, so far beyond our understanding that we can hardly begin to fathom it.  This is what the Book of Revelation speaks of.  Our fight against evil is the tiniest of specks in God’s grand plan.  But fight against it we must, because that IS what Jesus would do, and that is what he DID do.  You see, we are all given our fight, just like Jesus was.  During his time on earth, Jesus was given many “minor” fights to fight, and so are we.  Then he was given a “major” one, and most of us will face that as well.  He has not yet fought his final fight, and neither have most of us, but one day we all will.  And then we will put on the full armor of God  (Ephesians 6:10-18) and go to battle again.

            So, when faced with abuse, cruelty, unlovingness, hurtfulness and wickedness, let’s ask ourselves WWJRD?- What Would Jesus REALLY Do?   And then pray for the wisdom and courage to stand up against evil in all its forms.

            I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing…2 Timothy 4:7-8NIV