Some ask the question:
WWJD? (What would Jesus do?)
A more important question is:
What Did Jesus do?
A number of years ago, the wearing of the bracelet “WWJD” was frequently seen. It served as a reminder to consider the Lord’s response rather than our own. Jerry’s words point us instead to a solid foundation of truth that will guide our lives in our relationship to Him. In his discussion following this comment Jerry mentioned several Bible references. I have included his comments regarding what Jesus did after the passage listed.
Matthew 26:39. “He did not appease the wrath of God, He endured it.”
“ He exhausted the wrath of God.”
Leviticus 16: 7-10. “Jesus removed our sin from God’s presence. These two goats prefigured the grace of God in Christ. The scapegoat, bearing the sins, is Christ. The goat slain, its blood on the mercy seat, is Christ.”
Micah 7:19. “Christ enabled our sins to be hurled into the depths of the seas.”
Colossians 2:13. “Christ had our sins counted against Him.”
Hebrews 8:10-12. “Christ earned our forgiveness. By confession, we appropriate what He has earned for us.”
Athanasius, along with Alexander successfully argued for the work of Christ in his redemption of mankind at the Nicean Council in 325. His belief in Christ as fully God and fully man led to one of his five exiles for his beliefs. Athanasius was one of the first of the church fathers to fight numerous heresies which he did in his work of apologetics entitled “On the Incarnation.” He, like Jerry Bridges, focused on the question “What Did Jesus Do?” The following three paragraphs are taken from chapter two of his work, ”On the Incarnation.”
“Man, who was created in God’s image and in his possession of reason reflected the very Word Himself, was disappearing, and the work of God was being undone. The law of death, which followed from the Transgression, prevailed upon us, and from it there was no escape. The thing that was happening was in truth both monstrous and unfitting. It would, of course, have been unthinkable that God should go back upon His word and that men, having transgressed, should not die; but it was equally monstrous that beings which once had shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption. ….What-or rather Who was it that was needed for such grace and such recall as we required? Who, save the Word of God Himself, Who also in the beginning had made all things out of nothing? His part it was, and His alone, both to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all. For He alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father.
For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now he entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Fathers’ Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which he Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father-a pure body untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which he was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus he would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.
The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death; yet He Himself, as the Word, being immortal and the Father’s Son, was such as could not die. For this reason, therefore, he assumed a body capable of death in order that it through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through his indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection. ….. Thus by His own power He restored the whole nature of man. ….. For by the sacrifice of His own body He did two things; He put an end to the law of death which barred our way; and He made a new beginning of life for us, by giving us the hope of resurrection. By man death has gained its power over men; by the Word made Man death has been destroyed and life raised up anew.”
The comments of Jerry Bridges and Athanasius focus primarily on Christ’s atonement for us. To fully begin to answer the question “What Did Jesus Do?” it is necessary to paint a much broader picture, one which is impossible for us to do. I Corinthians 13 reminds us that we all see through a glass darkly. Isaiah 40:28 tells us that “there is no searching of His understanding.” This is a question that we may not be able to fully comprehend even in the ages to come. Ephesians 3:17-19 records Paul’s prayer as follows, “that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.” What Christ did in His love for us surpasses knowledge, yet it is in that seeking that we are changed into His image and He is glorified (II Corinthians 3:18) “What Did Jesus Do?” is not only a question for the ages to come, but one for our daily lives. As we abandon our lives to Him who abandoned his life for us; His presence, His power, and His purpose will be seen in our lives as well.
In Christ, Richard Spann
2 Replies to “WDJD-“What Did Jesus Do?””
This explains what Jesus did – is understandable – only if we understand how great His love for us is – and – what ever we do understand about His love – that exceeds our knowledge. I have noticed lately, that knowing Him, and His love, is so much more important – than knowledge. Thanks for this explanation, with Ephesians 3:17-19 nailing it solid.
Great posts Dr. Spann– Thanks again for sharing the retreat message with me. It was great!