Walk As Jesus Did

Christians are often taught to look to Jesus as an ideal role model to follow in his footsteps, to grow more like him. Do key Scriptural precepts suggest this is how Christians are to live out their faith? Let’s find out.

Learning from the best

Shortly after I became a Christian, “The Immitation of Christ” by Thomas A. Kempis became my first guide on Christian living. Then one day I received a stack of bookmarks with each having the title “Walk Like Jesus Did.” A quick glance through it told me I had something great to write about. The bookmark suggests 5 ways in which we can imitate Christ. Let us tackle them one by one.

1. Student of Scriptures

Luke 2:46

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Nothing in this verse indicates that Jesus went to the temple court to learn Scriptures. It’s absurd to think that the author of the Word went to the temple court to learn about Himself. An absurdity that I used to subscribe to without ever questioning. Jesus came to the temple court not to be a student but to be a teacher.

Matthew 4:4,4:7,4:10

4But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 7Jesus said to him, “Once again it is written: ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

We can come to the same conclusion about all the verses above. They convey nothing about Jesus being a student of Scriptures. Why do people keep thinking that Jesus needs to learn like a common man? From one side of their mouth they teach that Jesus is omniscient, and from the other they teach that he is as ignorant as a lost sinner.

2. Yielded to God’s Will

Luke 22:42

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Yet not my will but yours be done.”

Matthew 6:10

May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus’ motivation to yield to the Father’s will is nothing like ours. We yield because of a sense of being compelled to, or because someone tells us that we should, or other external factors. But this is not true with Jesus. He does not suffer from fear, threat, or insecurities as he suffers no consequences of sins.

2 Kings 5:14

So he went down and dipped in the Jordan seven times, as the prophet had instructed. His skin became as smooth as a young child’s and he was healed.

From the context of the passage we know that Naaman did not yield to God’s will out of his own willingness. He followed the direction to dip himself in the river as a last resort.

3. God Pleasing Choices

John 8:29

And the one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do those things that please him.”

John 4:34

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work.

It is foolish to think that Jesus has to make a choice between to do or not to do the Father’s will. It is not in his divine nature to make such choices.

1 John 2:6b

The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.

This whole article is to refute the idea of imitating Christ. Let’s defer it until the conclusion.

4. Humble Servant Attitude

Philippians 2:7-8

but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!

John 13:5

He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet andto dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself.

Jesus has no problem humbling himself for at least two reasons. One is he doesn’t lack in self-esteem so in him there is no craving for honor or recognition. And two, his supreme greatness stands unchallenged by anyone or anything in creation.

When one performs an act of humble service, there is an expectation of a personal sacrifice. But Jesus doesn’t have to give up anything as there is nothing in him that anyone can rob away. His divinity remains intact. He’s never insecure, and he will never be.

Can we say the same thing of fallen humanity? We face a never-ending struggle with our flesh which will always insist on its own glory. We can never ask a selfish thing to perform a selfless act.

5. Practiced Forgiveness

Luke 23:34

But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

There is no doubt Jesus forgave those who had committed unspeakable acts against him, but this does not imply this is what we must or have the ability to do.

Matthew 6:12

and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.

Acts 7:59-60

They continued to stone Stephen while he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then he fell to his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” When he had said this, he died.

To forgive, one’s heart must have more love than required. Jesus is God, and God is the very essence of love. People hold grudges because there are places in their heart that still hurt. For this reason, to ask people to forgive like Jesus is to ask them to give what they do not have. But instead, teach them to fill their heart with God’s love and forgiveness. Then they will be able to forgive from their full hearts.

Jesus being Love himself is more than capable to forgive as he did. And more than just forgiving those who crucified him, he forgave the whole world. As for Stephen, there is no doubt having been filled with the Holy Spirit and seen the heavens opened, he must have been in the right frame of mind. We cannot expect this in the daily circumstances of Christian living.

In conclusion

Let’s review the various things we learn about Jesus. He is God. He is a sinless man. He can forgive sins with the kind of forgiveness that can bridge the gap between God and Man. He can raise the dead. He can heal the sick, those with the kind of sickness that only the Messiah can heal. Such sickness as leprosy, blindness since birth, or other severe illness. He made enough food from a few man’s lunch to feed thousands. He died on the cross to carry the weight of the sins of the world. He rose from the dead.

The premise of the bookmark is: “The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.” Can you walk just as he did? Why pick and choose only from those in the bookmark? Those that seem to be within their grasp yet are still impossible to fallen Man.

For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. (Galatians 5:17)

To ask Christians to do what only Christ can do is to hold them captive for a lifetime of frustration. Their belief in eternal security will always be on shaky ground. Frequent tripping over the high bar of imitating Christ creates doubt nonetheless. This sort of teaching takes the believer’s eyes off of Christ. They may start out studying Christ, but eventually, their eyes will return to themselves. That is what the law does. Faith focuses one’s eyes upon Christ, but the law draws them toward self.

We would do well to view virtues promoted by the bookmark as the fruit of the Spirit which can only be born from above. Fruits imply the person from whom they came had no prior knowledge of their appearance. The more they focus upon their fruit, the more failure they will experience, but if they fix their eyes on Christ, it will be God who will bear fruit in them.

Trust God afresh each day and make every effort to rest in him (Hebrews 4:11). If the master molder decides to add a feature to his clay masterpiece, who are we to interfere with him? Be surprised as he bears fruit in your life, and stop trying.

Nghi Nguyen

- Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This is my own opinion on the topic, which does not necessarily reflect the church's theology, or beliefs of the individuals in it — Nghi Nguyen

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