And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
When I told my pastor I was writing a blog entitled “Witness the Jesus Way”, he asked me “What is the Jesus way?” I think he was testing me, but the question is a good one. How did Jesus witness? What did he do? Well, let’s take a look.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Love. Jesus loved. He loved everyone and he commanded us to as well. At least four times in John’s Gospel, Jesus instructed us to love one another. But, remember, his definition of love isn’t quite the same as ours. His definition of love is greater than ours. My favorite verse in the entire Bible is from John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. This is what Jesus did. He loved us so much that he gave his life for us. Would we be willing to do the same for others?
Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.
Don’t judge. Jesus didn’t judge. Jesus tells us in the Gospels not to judge others. He goes on to point out that we can all be judged and found wanting. We’ve all sinned and deserve judgment, but Jesus, the only perfect person to ever live, didn’t judge us. He didn’t come to judge. He told us so, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
The woman was caught in the “very act” of adultery. She was guilty and Jesus didn’t judge her. On a side note, adultery is not really a sin you commit by yourself and yet they only brought her. Apparently the religious zeal only stretched to judging one of the participants. But, I digress. The woman is obviously guilty, but Jesus doesn’t judge her. We judge people based solely on innuendo and rumor. Someone, somewhere, thought they might be in need of judgment and we are happy to comply. Jesus did not judge anyone, not even the woman in the passage above. So why do we feel the need to judge everyone, except ourselves. We need to get the plank out of our own eye and just love the world.
And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Forgive. Jesus forgave. He asked God to forgive the people who were putting him to death! Could you do that? I confess that I’m not sure I could pray for the forgiveness of someone who was actively torturing me to death. Jesus did. If we want to witness the way he did, we must be prepared to do likewise. Not just those who may be killing or persecuting us, but everyone. Whether they wronged us or someone else. We need to forgive them, even if they don’t want forgiveness.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. I’ve often said that this is a scary thought. Our forgiveness is directly tied to how we forgive others.
Yes, I know it’s easy to say that we need to forgive but much harder to actually do it. I struggle with it all the time and sometimes just when I think I may have forgiven someone something happens and resentment rears up and threatens to wash me away. The good news is that we are told in Paul’s letter to the Philippians that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us.
If we want to witness in the same way that Jesus did, then we need to do these three things. We do that and we become a reflection of Christ in the world. It sounds like something we should aspire to, doesn’t it?