By Alex Florez
I never owned a “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelet, but I remember thinking that perhaps I should consider the question posed by that fad of early 2000s Christian fashion. The idea it espoused—trying to be like Jesus in our day-to-day lives—makes sense, but I think the catchy slogan is more about considering the way Jesus thought than simply being good at choosing between right and wrong.
Today’s readings illuminate the heart of Jesus and beckon us to be like Jesus Christ in how we think and how we deal with others—even our enemies.
Luke 18 indicates that there was more to Jesus than the miraculous healings He performed (see Matthew 15:29–31). It wasn’t so much what Jesus did that enraged His detractors; rather it was who He claimed to be that fomented their murderous rage. If Jesus had simply been an itinerant preacher showcasing His ability to heal physical maladies, He would not have incited such a violent reaction. It was the perspective on His own identity and what His presence meant for those around Him that would lead to His arrest, torture, and execution.
As God in the flesh, Jesus had the authority to provide health for those who suffered and to offer life to those who would otherwise perish. This was more than a matter of choosing right from wrong; this was about the very identity of Jesus—God incarnate, whose mission it was to put His own life aside so that others—even His enemies—might live.
Mark 16 reminds us that we are powerless to approach Jesus (i.e., “roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb”) as He sits upon His throne of grace; it is He who has done the heavy lifting by relinquishing His life that we may find our own lives hidden in the heart of Christ.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. — Romans 5:6
In spite of our unworthiness, in spite of our seemingly relentless rebellion, Jesus has paid it all.
Philippians 2 urges us to have the “mindset” of Christ if we are to truly follow Him. When we adopt Jesus’s way of thinking, it is conceivable—even obligatory—to treat those around us with the same humility and selflessness that Jesus demonstrated for us by giving up His life that others may live.
I am unlikely to be faced with the decision of dying for anyone else’s sake in the literal sense any time soon. However, I will have countless opportunities to choose between self-interest and someone else’s well-being. In those moments, I will not be able to make the choices Jesus made if I do not first see myself and the world around me through the eyes of our beautiful Savior. It is He who deigned to leave heaven so that we might have reconciliation and, thus, relationship with God Himself.