Introduction: Do you recall the old question, “What would Jesus do?” I’ve always had some doubt about the usefulness of that question in resolving questions facing Christians. His situation was so unlike mine. On the positive side He performed supernatural feats all the time. On the negative side, He had many disadvantages, especially in the area of temptations. The better question is “What would Jesus want me to do?” Let’s see what we can learn about the answer to that question by diving into our study of the Bible!

  1.         Engagement

  1.         Read Luke 15:1-2. Is this complaint a problem?  Didn’t your parents tell you not to hang around with the wrong crowd? (This is undoubtedly good advice. But, the Jewish leaders criticism seems different. They thought Jesus should scorn those who did not uphold the proper standards.)

  1.         Read Luke 15:3-4. When Jesus asks, “What man of you,” what does He mean? (He means that His listeners would all agree.)

  1.         Do you agree that you would go out to find the one that was lost? (The one that is lost is more on your mind.)

  1.         Read Luke 15:5-6. Would you also have the same attitude of joy when you found your lost property?

  1.         Read Luke 15:7. Why does heaven feel such joy over the “one sinner who repents?” (Because the 99 are saved. Now all are saved.)

  1.         Jesus told this story to answer the charges made against Him in Luke 15:1-2. How do you understand Jesus’ answer? (He spent time with tax collectors and sinners to convert them.)

  1.         Does this mean that we should stop working with fellow church members and concentrate all our time on seeking the lost?

  1.         How much time did Jesus spent with His disciples as opposed to time spent with unbelievers? (He probably spent more time with the disciples.)

  1.         What should we conclude from this? (Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep is an answer to one question, not all questions.)

  1.         What is the critical difference between Jesus and the Jewish leaders? (They separated themselves from sinners. Jesus engaged sinners.)

  1.         First Things First

  1.         Read Matthew 9:1-2. Why do you think “some people” brought the paralyzed man to Jesus? (They wanted Jesus to heal him of his paralysis.)

  1.         Did Jesus do that? (No. He forgave the paralyzed guy of his sins.)

  1.         Read Matthew 9:3-4. What charge is placed against Jesus? (That He is blaspheming because He is claiming the power of God.)

  1.         Read Matthew 9:5-6. Why did Jesus heal the paralyzed man? (He healed him to answer charges of blasphemy.)

  1.         Does that mean Jesus did not heal the man simply because he was paralyzed?

  1.         Do you think that without the charge of blasphemy Jesus would have healed this man?

  1.         Read Matthew 9:7-8. What does this story tell us about Jesus’ priorities? (He was more concerned about the man’s spiritual health than his physical health.)

  1.         Is that the approach you have been taught? Does your church work on the physical needs of sinners before it works on their spiritual needs?

  1.         Read Matthew 9:35. What importance do you attach to the order in which Jesus’ works are listed?

  1.         Read Matthew 9:36. What made the crowds “harassed and helpless?”  Were they being physically attacked? Why mention the lack of a shepherd? (They had poor spiritual leadership. They were taught things about the law that made them feel helpless and harassed.)

  1.         Do you know this feeling?

  1.         When I was a young man I remember reading a publication from my church that informed me that I had to keep the law to be saved. It did not say that directly, but it said that if I had even one cherished sin I was lost. My sad reaction was that if salvation was so difficult, why even try?  Why not enjoy the “pleasures of sin for a season” if I was going to be lost anyway? I think I was “harassed and helpless.” What do you think?

  1.         On the other hand, I once had a friend who said that it was okay to engage in what I thought was a serious sin because “God will forgive.”  I didn’t doubt God’s forgiveness, but I doubted that this was the correct attitude. Do you think this person was “harassed and helpless?”

  1.         Read Matthew 9:37-38. What does it mean to have the “laborers” “harvest” the “harassed and helpless?” (It must mean teaching them the gospel. Helping them to understand righteousness by faith and the reason why God gave us the law.)

  1.         Now the key question: How should you minister like Jesus? (The first priority is to share the gospel to the harassed and helpless. If the Holy Spirit energizes my (your) superpower to heal people, do that too!)

  1.         Did Jesus ever teach a cooking class? Did He ever teach a class on money management?

  1.         If your answer is “no,” why do Christians teach these kinds of classes as part of a spiritual outreach? (This is one reason why I think the question, “What would Jesus want me to do?” is better than “What would Jesus do.” The cooking class is a non-supernatural approach to physical healing. Teaching money management is a non-supernatural approach to keeping people from being harassed and helpless.)

  1.         Second Things First?

  1.         Read Matthew 25:31-33. What event is Jesus describing? (His Second Coming and the final judgment.)

  1.         Read Matthew 25:34-36. Wait a minute! How can the judgment be based on works?  We just discovered that sharing the gospel is our first obligation, this says giving food and drink are our first (and only?) obligation. How do you explain this inconsistency?

  1.         Read Matthew 25:37-39. Are those who are saved Bible illiterates? How could they be unaware of Matthew 25? How could they not know the connection between helping the poor and helping Jesus?

  1.         The stories of Jesus feeding the multitudes do not seem to be connected with the economic status of the listeners. Do the gospels ever record Jesus giving food to the poor, water to the hungry, clothes to the naked, or visiting prisoners?

  1.         Is this another example of why “What would Jesus do” is a poor question?

  1.         Read John 6:53-56. What food and drink does Jesus connect with eternal life?

  1.         Read John 4:34-35. What food is connected with “the harvest?”

  1.         Read John 6:26-27. Which is the best food to have?

  1.         Read Galatians 3:22-24. What is the worst sort of imprisonment?

  1.         How does righteousness by faith alone release you from this imprisonment?

  1.         Do you think that Jesus’ statements in Matthew 25 are symbolic? (If you agree, that accords with the idea that sharing the gospel is our first obligation. In addition, it strengthens the doctrine of righteousness by faith.)

  1.         If Jesus’ statements about giving food, drink, and visiting prisoners are symbolic, does this explain why the righteous are confused about the question?

  1.         Read Luke 3:11. Is Jesus concerned about those who literally have no food? (Yes. My suggestion about the proper understanding of Matthew 25 does not relieve us of the obligation to love our fellow humans. However, it does clarify how we should witness and the primary subject of our witnessing.)

  1.         Friend, Jesus wants you to share the gospel with others. Will you, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, share with others what Jesus has done for you?

  1.         Next week: Developing a Winning Attitude.