First published in 1896, “In His Steps” written by Charles M. Sheldon has sold more than fifty million copies and is one of the best selling books of all time. The full title of the book is “In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?” In recent years the book spawned the W.W.J.D. bracelet which became a popular reminder when being worn to simply ask in every situation faced, “what would Jesus do?” The primary “example” that Jesus left us was nothing less than His own sacrificial death!
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” (1 Peter 2:21 NASB)
Note the context: “For this finds favor (also the same word for “grace”), if it is for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrow when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor (grace) with God.” (1 Peter 2: 19 -20)
To follow Christ’s example is to be willing to endure unjustified suffering—even defamation and persecution—with grace and patience.
But that is not all; we must also do it with silence! “And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats.” (1 Peter 2:23) “And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)
It is a natural reaction to want to strike back at one who has slandered or injured us. This is especially true if such an act was an insulting response to kindness. But such a “natural” reaction was not Christ’s reaction. He could have “called twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53) to His defense, but He chose to suffer in silence.
Why Would Jesus Do This?
Why would He do such a thing? First, if he had not done so we would have been lost in our sins forever. He “bore our sins in His body on the cross.” (1 Peter 2:24)
Second, He left us an example that we should “follow in His steps.” He was not just silent in His sufferings; “He suffered for you!” If we would really be like Him, we must be willing to suffer quietly on behalf of others, even when they are the ones who deserve it. This is acceptable with God!