What Would Jesus Say Now that He is still Lord, but Circumstances Change

05.01.22 | by Jennifer Parks-Snyder

Scripture: Matthew 28:16-20
The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told
them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then
Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to
me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of
the age.”

Sermon: What Would Jesus Say Now that He is still Lord, but
Circumstances Change.

I’m a list person. I always have been. When I was younger I remember making lists
where I ranked my favorite stuffed toys and records, I had in my collection.

But then life circumstances changed and so did my lists to which boys did I have a
crush on, which homework assignment I needed to do first, to what career did I want
to pursue.

And then life circumstances changed again, and my list became what is my true
calling, how do I see God leading me, what gifts has God given me to be in ministry.

My current life circumstances have led to lists of: what books I want to read, what
dinners I am going to make, and what is my next sermon series?

As I was working on that latest list of sermon ideas, I realized the Lent/Easter list was
complete, but not the Eastertide season. So, while we looked at some Defining
Moments of our Faith during Lent to the first Sunday of Easter studying Thomas, the
question is what is next? And my list took me to this book, NT Wright’s Simple Jesus,
that led me to the idea of “What Would Jesus Say Now...”.

Many of you are familiar with the question, What Would Jesus Do, which comes from
Charles Sheldon's 1896 book, In His Steps, that was subtitled "What Would
Jesus Do?".

Sheldon's novel grew out of a series of sermons he delivered in his Congregationalist
church in Topeka, Kansas, when he was trying to shape his congregation to a
commitment to Christian discipleship.

The challenge given was to consider what was going on in their daily lives and then
ask themselves, "What Would Jesus Do", with Jesus being a moral example.

In Sheldon’s words, “This has the effect of making one embrace Christianity
more seriously and to focus on what we see as its core the life of Christ.”

Following along those lines, in this series we will consider what would Jesus say rather
than do about some of the things we find ourselves wrestling with. I chose to say
because I believe some of the words Jesus offers in Scripture will inspire us and the
language we should be using as Christians today.

Further, we can consider this part of the teaching moments for us all in this season of
Eastertide, before Pentecost. Jesus has risen from the grave, now what?

This first week we will consider What would Jesus say now that he is still Lord
but circumstances change.

Meaning, we claim Jesus as Lord, but what does that mean in today’s world, because
today’s world is not the same as the world of Ancient Israel, however we may find, the
focus will be the same.

To begin, we need to understand that in Jesus’ world Lord was the one you served.
Roman Emperors were Lords over their people, all those within their Empire served
them. So, when Thomas says to the risen Jesus, My Lord and my God, (John
20:28) when he realized Jesus was the risen Christ, he pledged his loyalty to Jesus
Christ. Meaning, he understood that God’s work through Jesus is the rescue and
renewal of God’s creation, with Jesus joining together heaven and earth. All death and
sorrow have been overcome through the resurrection, and Jesus is Lord of heaven and

Like Thomas, we pledge our loyalty to Jesus as Lord as well. In our vows at baptism
and membership, we are asked, Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put
your whole trust in his grace, & promise to serve him as your Lord, in union
with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and
races? (I do.)

First, we are asked to confess Jesus as our Savior, meaning we believe he is the one
to save us from our problems, our struggles, save us from death, and more
importantly save us for God.

Then it asks if we put our whole trust in his grace. Meaning do we trust his
unconditional love for us.

And so, by confessing Jesus as the one to save us for God with grace, we then
promise to serve him as Lord. To follow and learn from him, to honor him with our life.
Because it is from him, that life’s meaning comes for us.

That’s what is going on in our scripture lesson today. Listen to Jesus’ words again. All
authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Jesus is sending his followers on their way, and commissions them to live and share
their faith, all that Jesus taught and showed them, they are the continuation of this
divine way of living on earth, as God intended.

In the past months I have met with various groups in the church and shared that
scripture, asking them what they thought Jesus commanded them to? And the
answers they listed: to share and live ways of truth, justice, mercy, love. And I tend
to agree with that list.

In fact, if we study the New Testament, we will see that for the early Christians to
claim Jesus as Lord was To allow God in Jesus to order their lives in ways of
truth, justice, mercy, and love, as Christ commanded.

For example, to order one’s life with truth consider John 21 when Peter has his
come to Jesus' conversation, with Jesus. Remember this is after the resurrection and
Peter, as you can imagine is embarrassed for denying Jesus at his trial. But Jesus
doesn’t want that to be the forefront of their relationships. Jesus wants Peter to let it

So, he says to Peter, Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my

And he asks this question, not once, but how many times? 3, to cover the 3 times
Peter denied him.

The truth of this matter is, Jesus forgave Peter and wants Peter to forgive himself, by
feeding and caring for Jesus’ Church. And Peter will go on to order his life with that
truth, taught and shown by his Lord.

Do we order our lives with such truth and grace? Do we have those lists of ones we
should offer pardon to? And those we have received? For to do so, is to honor our
Lord, Jesus Christ.

Consider another example of ordering one’s life by reading St Paul’s letter to
Philemon to end slavery for Onesimus. Onesimus was an escaped slave that helped
Paul in his work for the Lord and now Paul wants to send him back so that Philemon,
his owner will release him. Paul writes, 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated
from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever 16 no
longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear
to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the
Lord.... 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would
welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge
it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it backnot
to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may
have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.

To order one’s life with justice is to speak up for those who cannot speak for
themselves, and care for them, assist them, to get on their own. Be it those who are
vulnerable, refugees, or those caught in trafficking to name a few. Do we order our
lives with such acts of justice and mercy? For to do so is to follow our Lord, Jesus

And how about ordering one’s life with the teaching of the Lord’s love? One of my
favorite passages in the Bible regarding that comes from Acts 2:44, 44 All the
believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold
property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

To order one’s life with the love of the Lord is offer that all that we have and all that
we can, in order to help those in need. That’s love for one another. Do we order our
lives with such acts of love? If so, we serve the Lord, Jesus Christ.

There is no doubt that as life goes on, circumstances change in our lives, as do the
lists we may keep. However, in Hebrews 13 we read: be content with what you
have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake
you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be
afraid.” ... 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

That means the grace of Jesus is the same for us yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His
justice is the same for us, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And his love for us is the
same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So, in answer to the question of What would Jesus say now that he is still Lord,
but circumstances change?

I believe Jesus would say ‘...remember, I am with you always, to the end of
the age.’

And in that memory, we find our inspiration, our order, or rather our list of a blessed

Let us pray:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen. St. Francis of Assisi