Gerald Bray: WWJD is Impossible to Answer
"'What would Jesus do?’ seems like an innocent question to ask, but it is impossible to answer literally and does not reflect the teaching of the New Testament."
‘What would Jesus do?’ seems like an innocent question to ask, but it is impossible to answer literally and does not reflect the teaching of the New Testament. As Christians we are not called to do what Jesus did (or what we might think he would do if he were in our shoes) but to do what he tells us to do—to obey his commands, not to copy his actions (unless, of course, that is what he tells us to do!)
"As Christians we are not called to do what Jesus did. . . but to do what he tells us to do—to obey his commands."
We must resist the temptation to turn Jesus into the first Christian, or as some translations of Hebrews 12:2 put it, the ‘pioneer’ of our faith. A Christian is a sinner saved by grace, which Jesus was not. His life was lived in a different context and had a different purpose from anything that our life could ever have. He is not a man who discovered a new relationship with God that he is now sharing with us, but our Saviour and Lord, and we must respect that essential difference. What he was capable of is not possible for us because we are still sinners, and must continue to depend on him for the grace we need to live the life that he wants us to live.
"What he [Jesus]was capable of is not possible for us."
To claim to be able to copy the actions of the historical Jesus (or guess what he would do if he were alive today and do the same) is to claim to be in a state of sinless perfection, which is a lie. There have certainly been those who have made such a claim, and there is an entire tradition of the so-called ‘second blessing’ which purports to be a perfecting of those who have been saved by grace but who have not yet ceased from sinning. The truth is that there is no such blessing and no such perfection.
"To claim to be able to copy the actions of the historical Jesus. . . is to claim to be in a state of sinless perfection, which is a lie."
To the end of our days we remain as we were when we were first converted—sinners in need of grace. The only way we can grow to be more like Jesus is to become more aware of how unlike him we really are and therefore submit more completely to his rule in our lives. ‘I have been crucified with Christ,’ said the Apostle Paul. ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.’ (Galatians 2:20).”
Gerald Bray, The Faith We Confess, 86.