What would Jesus ___________?

Whether we are directly moved into action by it or we astutely side-step it by saying it’s the wrong question, Sheldon’s classic query, “What would Jesus do?” seems to get us thinking, doesn’t it?
In recent years, I have heard different verbs placed at the end of this sentence. For example, you may have heard the question “What would Jesus drive?” which, I guess, is meant to suggest that SUVs are particularly unholy modes of transportation.
Apparently, the prophet Charles M. Schultz once wondered what Jesus would pet.

In a more serious way, many Christians through the ages have seen the sorts of things Jesus actually did do as being especially blessed occupations and activities. Does the fact that I spent 12+ years as a carpenter make me somehow especially holy? If so, the fact seems to be lost on me—as well as those who know me best.
All this comes to mind because of a passage I read this morning from John Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus. It really blew me away. I thought I would share it with you:

There is in the New Testament no Franciscan glorification of barefoot itinerancy. Even when Paul argues the case for celibacy, it does not occur to him to appeal to the example of Jesus. Even when Paul explains his own predilection for self-support there is no appeal to Jesus’ years as a village artisan. Even when the apostle argues strongly the case for his teaching authority, there is no appeal to the rabbinic ministry of Jesus. Jesus’ trade as a carpenter, his association with fishermen, and his choice of illustrations from the life of the sower and the shepherd have throughout Christian history given momentum to the romantic glorification of the handcrafts and the rural life; but there is none of this in the New Testament. It testifies throughout to the life and mission of a church going intentionally into the cities in full knowledge of the conflicts which awaited believers there. That the concept of imitation is not applied by the New Testament at some of those points where Franciscan and romantic devotion has tried most piously to apply it, is all the more powerfully a demonstration of how fundamental the thought of participation in the suffering of Christ is when the New Testament church sees it as guiding and explaining her attitude to the powers of the world. Only at one point, only on one subject—but then consistently, universally—is Jesus our example: in his cross.


4 thoughts on “What would Jesus ___________?

    • JHY is a stud!
      His hermeneutical approach in this book is a bit too LGH for my taste, but I still love what he’s doing.
      He’s basically saying that Jesus was rightly understood by His enemies as a revolutionary who meant to upset the political applecart. In other words, the kingdom of God is not merely other worldly and spiritual and symbolic — and therefore, apolitical. But rather, He meant (and still means!) for it to cause problems for the powers the be, whether in Jerusalem (religious) or in Rome (political).
      He says this on p. 85: “Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom was unacceptable to most of his listeners not because they thought it could not happen but because they feared that it might, and that it would bring down judgment upon them.”
      The chapter whence comes the long quote in this post is explaining how the political message of Jesus is and is not borne out by the whole of the NT… it’s the CROSS!

      • Have you heard of the book “Colossians remixed”? You should check it out! The idea that Jesus presented a problem for the powers that be is not something new to me because of the authors ideas in this book.

      • No, I haven’t seen it, but I think you mentioned it to me once before. It is one of the many books recommended in the back of Shane Claiborne’s *Jesus For President*. So is *The Politics of Jesus*. I hope to check out the Colossians book someday soon! Thanks, James!

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