In 2014 a question began haunting the inner place in my mind. What would Jesus do? It had become a familiar phrase in society, and I sensed it being used more often toward others instead of the intended meaning by Charles Sheldon when he wrote In His Steps. I say it haunted me because I was trying to answer it for myself, and I was realizing that I didn’t know what Jesus would do. I had faithfully attended every church service from the age of 16, gone to Bible college, and spent hours reading what educated authors wrote and listening to what popular speakers had to say. I thought I knew what the Bible said about most circumstances. I was finding that I was wrong, so beginning with Matthew’s gospel, I took time looking into Jesus’s encounters with people. I would spend time learning what I could about the encounter – the geography and customs of the place, the status of the person, the context of the encounter (what was Jesus doing before, who was there and why) – and meditating (imagining the scene, the emotions, and the tone of Jesus’s voice.)
As I sought to know Him, the incarnate Eternal God, He kept His promise to reveal what I was seeking. What began to emerge was a kind and gentle man who treated all people with dignity. Not only the poor, the sick, and the sorrowing but also those who stumbled along in their commitment to following him and those who chose not to follow him.
Just as important was that I didn’t see the disappointed, exasperated, rebuking man frustrated with the frailty and brokenness of the people he had created and come to redeem that I believed him to be at times. I didn’t sense that he rolled his eyes when his disciples were slow to believe, or that his tone was impatient or demeaning. The accounts of his life that have been left for us don’t include non-verbal communication. For many years I’d believed that Jesus responded to people like we would respond. I found that misrepresentation of who he is made it hard to trust him.
I was seeing him in a new way, and it was changing my relationship with him, which was going to change my life. My path was about to take an unexpected turn. I’m thankful for the naivety of those first few months. Had I known what I would experience on this path, my heart would have fainted, I wouldn’t have continued, and fear would have robbed me of the greatest treasure of heaven and earth.