The Christmas season is over. The red ribbons, the fake snow and the glitter have been used effectively to hide that Christmas is about Jesus Christ. Now all this can be removed from the storefronts, for no longer is anyone in danger of being reminded of Jesus. Life is back to its secularized self.
There are people, however, who do not want to forget Jesus Christ. They know that He is our life, our strength and our salvation. Some young people have even found a way to be reminded of Him. They wear a bracelet with the letters W.W.J.D.: What Would Jesus Do? They recognize that they as Christian youth do not have an easy time in this world. They are surrounded by the pitfalls of temptation, but they do not want to succumb. When they are in danger of following sin, they can look at their wrist and be reminded of Jesus Christ. Thinking about what Jesus would do in a situation like their own would go a long way to silence the voices of temptation and to help them behave as Christians, as real followers of Jesus.
We all need to be reminded of Jesus continually. It is not easy for anyone of us to live in a world full of temptation. Thinking about Jesus, who in all things was tempted like us, yet without sinning, can be helpful. Many of the popular people who are as role models do not exactly lead good and honest lives. They need to get their stories published in newspapers by whatever means. They are not known because of their good deeds but are notorious because of their sins. It is much better to think of Jesus, who remained sinless even in the midst of temptation.
The question is, however: Does it help to think of what Jesus would do?
Jesus as a Teen
There is only one story in the Bible about Jesus as a teenager. Luke recounts the story of what happened when Jesus was twelve years old and went with His parents to the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Although He is not exposed to any particular temptation to sin on this occasion, the story may be helpful. Luke mentions four things the young Jesus did.
He stayed behind in Jerusalem when His parents were already on their way back to Nazareth.
He was speaking with the teachers of Israel in the temple.
He answered His mother’s anxious reproach.
He went back with His parents to Nazareth and was obedient to them.
Which of these four things would young people of twelve years old and older be encouraged to do? Not too many!
No parent would appreciate it if one of their children would stay behind when the whole company is on the way back home.
Speaking with the scribes about the Word of God and its implications shows the remarkable insight and wisdom of the young Jesus, but we cannot expect that from young people today. In their case, it would usually be presumptuous.
Not apologizing to your parents when they have been looking anxiously for three days would be rude for any Christian child today. It is only Jesus, who could say: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Being obedient to His parents is the only part of this story about the teen Jesus that could be applied to children today. If even Jesus (who was, after all, the Son of God, and who knew much more about God than His parents) was obedient, children should follow Jesus’ example and also be obedient to their parents.
Jesus’ Earthly Life
What about Jesus Christ’s life as an adult? Can what He did be an example to us to follow? What do we know about His life? If we summarize the gospel record, several aspects are very prominent in Christ’s work.
In the first place, the Lord was a teacher. Jesus Christ gathered a number of disciples around Him, and taught them. He also gave instruction to the people that came to Him from the different cities in Israel. This is a very important aspect of His work. He taught the nation of Israel for about three years. Here, however, He cannot be an example to us today. We cannot speak with the same authority Jesus had, already during His life on earth. His authority struck the first hearers. The people in Capernaum were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes (Mark 1:22). Jesus was the Son of God, who had insight in God’s plans and knew God’s will. He proved that He could speak with more authority than anyone else at His time by His miracles. The people remarked: “What is this? A new teaching! With authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mark 1:27). No one today can claim for his words the same authority Jesus had and still has.
Something else that characterized Jesus’ life were His many miracles. He healed the sick; He multiplied the bread; He stilled the storm; He even brought three people back from death. All these things are clearly beyond anyone of us; we do not have the power to perform such wonders. The gospels speak of many works Jesus did, but hardly any can be repeated by us. Here, as well, we cannot do what He did.
Maybe someone would object that Christ’s miracles proved His divine power, and that we obviously do not have that. He is, however, at the same time a man. Can we not do what He did as man? Yes, maybe we can do several things He did: we can walk around, eat and sleep. But Scripture does not emphasize these events. What Scripture emphasizes about His human work is His suffering and death. He was scourged, nailed on the cross, forsaken from God; He died, was buried, and rose again. What Jesus did as human sufferer, can hardly be something for us to do.
Overall, what we know of Jesus’ life on earth does not lend itself to be repeated by us. He is exceptional, and that shows in all the stories the Bible tells about Him. It does not help very much to think about what Jesus would do in a certain situation. He might very well have done something we would never be able, or even be allowed, to do.
Is it wrong to have wristbands reminding us of Jesus Christ? I do not think so. Let us, by all means, think about Jesus Christ more and more. He has been so concerned about us that He came down from heaven. It was for us that He taught and suffered and died. But that was not the end of the road for Him. He conquered death, left the grave and returned to this world. Then He went up to heaven and became King of heaven and earth. He still is the King; all things are subjected to Him.
That is something not only young people, but all of us, should recognize. We need to think more about Jesus Christ when we are asking ourselves what to do as Christians. Jesus is King in heaven. He is our King. We should obey Him in our daily work and not give in to temptations to go against Him. This obedience should be visible in our lives.
Perhaps we need an improved expression in seven letters. W.W.J.W.M.T.D. What Would Jesus Want Me To Do!