Walking like Jesus
The Message of Jesus DAY 1
“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history”. —H. G. Wells
As we look at what it means to walk like Jesus walked we need to look at his message, his methods, and his model of life and ministry.
What was the message of Jesus? What did He say? What did He mean? The people who heard Jesus’ message recognized that He came with a new teaching, and He delivered it with a level of authority that was unmatched (Mark 1: 27). Jesus delivered His message in a variety of ways and in a variety of settings. He delivered sermons, spoke in parables, and used illustrations from daily life. His message was both simple and profound at the same time. His message of the good news of the kingdom was radical in its impact and scope. It touched every area of life. It was filled with hope and expectation. It challenged the basic worldviews—both Jewish and Roman—of His day. A person could spend his or her entire life studying Christ’s message and probably never fully grasp all that He had to say.
Look up these verses and write down what they tell us about the everyday message Jesus communicated:
Matthew 4: 17
Matthew 6: 19
Matthew 6: 31–33
Matthew 9: 12–13
Matthew 10: 37–39
Mark 10: 45
Luke 5: 12–13
How did those closest to Jesus respond to His message?
Matthew 7: 28–29
Matthew 13: 54–56
Identify some of the key themes in Jesus’ teaching.
What seems to come up again and again?
How would you summarize the message of Jesus?
The Methods of Jesus DAY 2
In his classic book The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman examined Jesus’ strategy for spreading His message about the kingdom in the world. Focusing on the methods of Jesus requires asking a new set of questions: How did Jesus share His message? How did He identify, train, and send His disciples? What were the strategies that motivated His decisions?
Focusing on Jesus’ methods doesn’t mean we neglect His message. To the contrary, this is a different look at Jesus that gives us brand-new insight into His message. When we begin to see and apply Christ’s methods to the pattern of our own life, we gain a fresh and powerful new understanding of Jesus. Christ’s methods help us appreciate and understand His message, for Jesus’ methods were as unique and powerful as the message He taught.
Let’s look briefly at some of the methods of Jesus.
Look at these passages of Scripture and identify what they tell us about some of the methods Jesus used.
John 1: 14 (Hint: What was Jesus’ method of choosing to interact with us?)
John 1: 37–39 (Hint: How did Jesus relate to His first followers?)
John 2: 1–3 (Hint: Where did Jesus choose to do His first miracle? Why do you think He made this choice?)
John 2: 13–19 (Hint: How did Jesus act during His first public Passover?)
John 3: 22 (Hint: What was Jesus’ main priority?)
John 4: 1–4 (Hint: What did Jesus avoid? What didn’t He avoid?)
John 7: 1 (Hint: What was Jesus intentional about at this stage of His ministry?)
John 8: 49–59 (Hint: How subtle was Jesus in His dealings with Jewish leaders?)
John 13: 1, 4–5 (Hint: How did Jesus deal with His disciples?)
Matthew 11: 29–30 versus/ contrasted with Matthew 23: 13–17 (Hint: How does Jesus’ tone differ between needy sinners and arrogant Pharisees?)
What method( s) of Jesus do you feel were the most radical?
Which method( s) do you feel are missing in some ministries today?
Which method( s) of Jesus do you need to develop in your own life? Why?
The Model of Jesus DAY 3
As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene. No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. —Albert Einstein
For the past couple of days, we’ve explored the message and methods of Jesus. If we want to walk as Jesus walked, it is critical that we understand what He taught and how He lived. However, for many, a focus only on the message of Jesus can result in a message-centered Christianity. Are we talking right? Are saying the right things? Is the preacher preaching the right things? With this mind-set, being a Christian becomes mainly about getting the message correct—saying the right things.
A focus on only the methods of Jesus can, in the same way, end up in a method-centered Christianity. Are we acting right? Are we doing the right things? Are our leaders acting the right way? Being a Christian becomes mainly about doing things right.
Nevertheless, the Scriptures point us beyond both the message and methods of Jesus and challenge us to look at the very model of His life. After all, we are commanded to walk “as” Jesus walked. To do this, we need to look at the complete pattern of His life and pattern our life after His.
This approach requires new questions: What was Jesus like in His humanity? How did Jesus behave as a real man in a real time and place?
When we focus on Jesus’ message and methods we are considering His deity—what was He saying? And how, as God incarnate, was He acting?
But looking at the model of Jesus’ life is more about who Jesus was as a human being. The pattern of Jesus’ life is the example of what it means to be fully human. This is the heart of the challenge of 1 John 2: 6. When Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, He told us to look hard at how He lived His life and to follow that pattern. The operative word in 1 John 2: 6 becomes the little word “as.” Looking close at Christ in His humanity causes us to look at our humanity and to examine it in light of Jesus’ example. Walking as Jesus walked becomes our focus.
Read the following passages. How do they challenge us to look beyond Jesus’ message and method, and call us to imitate the very example of His life?
John 6: 57
John 13: 15
John 13: 34
John 14: 12
John 15: 10
John 17: 18
1 Peter 2: 21
1 John 2: 6
Which of the above statements do you find most challenging? Why?
Do you find it hard to believe that you could think and act like Jesus? Explain your answer.
If you study only the message or methods of Jesus, is it possible to miss the true meaning of His life? How?
A Summary of Jesus’ Life DAY 4
The gospel of Matthew provides two famous statements that summarize His life and mission for His disciples. The first is known as the Great Commandment, the other the Great Commission. These two statements have to be held together if we are going to walk like Jeus.
The Great Commandment is found in Matthew 22: 37–40. The great commandment identifies the heart motive of Jesus and a fulfillment of the Old Testament law. This is the motive behind the mission. The great commandment clarifies our passion.
The Great Commission is found in at least five passages of Scripture (Matthew 28: 16–20, Mark 16: 14–18, Luke 24: 44–49, John 20: 19–23, and Acts 1: 4–8), but the most common is Matthew 28: 16–20. Matthew 28 contains three verbs—go, baptize, and teach to obey that modify the command to “make disciples.” This command literally means to make disciples who can make disciples. This is to be done in all nations.
Many scholars believe Jesus gave this commission to the five hundred spoken about in 1 Corinthians 15: 6. Regardless of whom it was directed to, it serves as a summary of Jesus’ life and a call to Jesus’ followers to do what He did: make disciples who can make disciples and do this to the ends of the earth. While this commission is great in terms of its challenge and scope, it really is an everyday commission. It is for every believer, every moment of their everyday life. The great commission establishes our priorities. After all, Jesus promised, “I am with you always [this literally means the whole of every moment], even to the end of the age.”
If you summarize the passion and the priority of Jesus as simply loving God and loving people (Great Commandment) by making disciples who can make disciples (Great Commission), what does this tell us about the focus of Christ’s life?
What effect should this have on our daily life?
Interestingly enough is that in this text there is a second command at the end of Matthew 28: 20. The command is the simple Greek work idou, translated in the NIV as simply “And surely” or in some translations as “Behold.” This literally means that while we are fulfilling the command to make disciples, we are to keep our eyes on Jesus because He said, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Could it be that the degree to which we keep our eyes on Jesus, walking as He walked, is the degree to which we will be able to fulfill this everyday commission and everyday commandment?
The very Jesus, who walked on this earth as the perfect human, set an example for us to follow. Jesus began and ended the gospel of John with the phrase “follow Me,” and He meant it (John 1: 43; 21:22). As we continue in this study, we will seek to unpack what this calling looks like.
Look carefully at the Great Commandment in Matthew 22: 15–40. Read it aloud. What is the context and background of these verses?
How can a message or lifestyle of “love” often silence the arguments of your critics?
Give an example from personal experience.
How does “making disciples who can make disciples” differ from just “making disciples”? Give an illustration of when you’ve seen this lived out.
“Follow Me” DAY 5
People talk about imitating Christ, and imitate Him in the little trifling formal things, such as washing the feet, saying His prayer, and so on; but if anyone attempts the real imitation of Him, there are no bounds to the outcry with which the presumption of that person is condemned. —Florence Nightingale
The mandate for every Christian is clear. We are to follow Jesus. This is clear in the bookends of John’s gospel where Jesus says, “Follow me” (John 1: 43; 21:22). The Greek word translated “follow Me” in John 1: 43 and 21:22 is akoloutheow, which means, “to walk in the steps of, to conform to, or to follow behind closely.”
I am the author and perfecter of your faith, Jesus says. I have gone before and blazed a trail for you. Now walk in My steps. The concept is clear. But it poses a radical challenge.
How do we truly follow Jesus today? What does this command mean in the 21st century? How do we walk as Jesus walked?
The key to really following Jesus is making sure we are following the real Jesus! The Scriptures testify to at least three different periods in Jesus’ existence: the preincarnate Christ, the incarnate Christ, and the resurrected Christ.
The preincarnate Christ played a key role in creation. What do you discover about the preincarnate Christ in these verses?
John 1: 1–4 John 8: 58
John 17: 5
Colossians 1: 15–17
Hebrews 1: 3, 10
After His earthly ministry and resurrection, this God/ Man Jesus ascended into heaven. Having become flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus is now the firstborn from among the dead (Colossians 1: 18). The resurrected Christ now has a unique role. Read the following passages. What can we learn about Christ’s present role as the resurrected Christ?
John 14: 18–20
John 14: 23
Romans 8: 34
Ephesians 4: 7–11
Colossians 1: 18
Ephesians 1: 20–23
Hebrews 13: 20–21
It is important to understand that we are not called to walk as the preincarnate Christ or the resurrected Christ. We are called to walk as Jesus walked when He became flesh and dwelt among us. The fully human Christ modeled for us what true, biblical humanity should look like.
The pattern of the incarnate Christ is the one we are called to follow. I have seen many people shrink from the challenge of walking as Jesus walked, because they believe several false claims, including: Jesus was God, but I am just a human being; therefore I could never do what He did! Jesus was sinless, but I am sinful; therefore I cannot do what Jesus did. Jesus was a superhuman, but I am just an average person; therefore I cannot do what He did. Each of these views has some truth in it. Unfortunately, they are all based on some false assumptions that have serious consequences. Understanding the true humanity of Jesus will give us confidence that we can truly walk as Jesus walked. In the rest of this study, we will look more in depth at Christ’s humanity and its implications for us as we walk as Jesus walked.
Referencing the above passages in your Bible, describe how these two roles of Jesus—preincarnate and resurrected—differ. How are they similar?
What have you found the most challenging in Week 1?
What was something new that you realized?