What Would Jesus Do – WWJD – was the battle cry of wrists everywhere in the early 2000’s. The bracelets became a fashion statement rather than a catalyst for self-critique and it became necessary for them to fade away into oblivion. I find the question and the subsequent bracelets to be convicting and encouraging these days. And while that question is a good one to ask, there might be a better one – WWJW – “What Would Jesus Want?” We can better determine what Jesus would do if we understand what Jesus would want.
Human beings are driven by their desires. If you watch someone long enough, you can evaluate what a person finds valuable by what they do. “Actions speak louder than words” is an old saying that proves true every day. Asking someone what they want seems, on the surface, to be a simple question. We can probably come up with a multitude of different answers. Responses would range from the seemingly insignificant to the utterly profound. They could all be completely genuine as to what the respondent thinks. But would someone who simply observed their life, without explicitly asking the question, reach the same answer?
Our actions are more often not driven by our minds but by our hearts.
Jesus, in speaking to the crowds, told them to not be anxious about what they would eat or drink or wear. He used the illustrations of the birds and the lilies to explain that God provides what His creation needs. While Jesus seems to be reassuring their minds, He is, in fact, attempting a coup d’état of their hearts. He ends the lesson with a famous line found in Matthew 6.33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Set your heart on and seek after the Kingdom. Jesus, as He always does, sees past the surface worries to the unrealized needs. Just as He forgave the paralytic’s sins before restoring his physical strength, He goes after the root of the issue here – misplaced desires.
In John 6, Jesus feeds the five thousand men and then goes across the sea. On the other side, the crowds find Him and Jesus cuts right to the core. He addresses their surface desires – more physical bread – with a piercing attack upon their hearts. He tells them that they are seeking after the wrong bread, the bread they are seeking will only lead to death. He tells them that the true bread that leads to eternal life is a belief in Him that changes the heart’s trajectory by pointing it towards Him. We see later in the chapter that the Twelve have this kind of belief and it causes them to stay when all the others abandon Jesus.
He goes after the root of the issue here – misplaced desires.
So what did Jesus want? This is a crucial question because Jesus says that anyone who would be His disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross, and “follow” Him. This following is not merely a physical or even mental act, rather it is a call to cherish Jesus and, if we treasure Him, then we will want to desire the things He desired. In Matthew 6.21, Jesus said that our hearts follow our treasure. If Jesus is the truth then we are to abandon what we thought of as truth and conform to Him. We are to deny our “selves” and our desires and become like Him and His desires.
Our hearts follow our treasure.
Jesus wanted to glorify His Father. Whatever it took (John 12.27), whatever it meant leaving (Phil 2.5-11), He wanted to show that he loved the Father. We make something look glorious when we make decisions that show that it is more valuable to us than anything else. In John 13.32, Jesus says that the Father is glorified in Him. Foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Crushing pain and humiliation, utter loneliness, even the unimaginable weight of the Father’s wrath on sin would not alter His heart’s course. In the garden, knowing what was to come, He cries to the Father and asks for the coming judgment to pass. Even the way in which Jesus asks “My Father, if it be possible” reveals His heart. He is comes before the Father, fully submissive to the One whom He loves more than anything else. He humbles Himself to the Father by saying, “Not what I want, but what you want.”
Purpose drives us to accomplish amazing things. Humans can endure much pain and suffering in pursuit of greater joy on the other side. We are constantly giving up fleeting pleasures for goals that we perceive as more valuable. Law clerks work tirelessly for hours uncounted in the hopes of one day making partner. Runners beat their bodies down in hopes of one day winning the race. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus endured the cross because there was joy set before him. As His followers, let us pray to have our eyes locked on Him, pursuing with eager feet His mission because our hearts are one with His.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.