Read an Excerpt
from Chapter 13
Jesus showed us how one leader can change the world.
He began with a bold vision that he put up in lights for all to seea shining vision of God's kingdom on Earth. Then he chose twelve people and entrusted his vision to them. He built close, tightly bonded relationships with them and mentored them. He trained them, coached them and delegated his authority to them to minister in his name.
Jesus knew they would fail and make mistakes, but he unleashed them and transferred increasing amounts of responsibility to their shoulders. He knew he could not to do it all, especially in view of the short time he had left. Se he poured his life into them and multiplied himself through them.
Jesus fed a crowd in northern Israel to demonstrate to his disciples what his ministry was all about: spiritual bread for hungry souls. The feeding of the five thousand was not as some would suppose, just a flashy display of miraculous power. It was symbolic of what Jesus had come to do for the nation of Israel. The second feeding of four thousand people took that same message of living bread beyond the borders of Israel and into the world at large.
As a leader, Jesus walked on water. You may think How can I lead like Jesus? I can swim, but I can't walk on water! It's a mistake, however, to think that the point of this miracle was just to show off the power of Jesus. The theme of that event was faith. Jesus did something unthinkable, then he called Peter out of the boat and commanded him to do the unthinkable as well.
If you are a leader, there are things you do every day that your followers probably consider impossible to imitate: You envision the future, think creatively, initiate action, take charge, motivate, inspire, mentor, empower, communicate, manage conflict, remain calm under pressure, handle multiple tasks, exude confidence, demonstrate management skills, demonstrate sales skills and more. To the people around you, the leadership abilities that are natural to you look like "walking on water" to them. Your job as a leader is to call people out of the safety of the boat and urge them to take a step of faith. Get them out on the water and tell them to start walking!
Jesus, the ultimate leader, taught his disciples that if they would dare the unthinkable, they could achieve the impossibleas long as they kept their eyes on him. Peter didn't sink until he took his eyes off Jesus and started looking at his circumstances. As long as he kept looking to Jesus, there was no limit to what he could do. So it is with you and me.
Above all, Jesus tried to prepare his followers for the fact that he would not always be there holding their hands. Jesus knew that the goal of leadership is not to produce childlike dependents, but mature, confident, dependable disciples. So Jesus did amazing things in their presence, then he told his followers that they would achieve even greater things. He wanted his followers to understand that, with God's power flowing through them, they were going to change the world.
Finally, he took three of his closest disciples upon Mount Hermon, where he have them a glimpse of the incredible glory that lay ahead of themthe culmination of God's plan for the human race, a plan that led through such men as Moses and Elijah, as well as through Peter, James and John.
Jesus knew that a time was soon approaching when he would gather his disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem. He would bid them farewell, and they would feel lost and without hope. One of them would slip away from that room and sell the life of Jesus for thirty pieces of sliver. But the eleven who stayed with Jesus would change the course of history.
The work of Jesus remains unfinished. He is still calling men and women who are willing to follow him and become his next "inner circle" of leaders-in-training. The world is crying out for change and for people who are willing to lead Jesus.
Are you ready to lead?
Who Is Jesus
It was just before dawn in Jerusalem.
Inside a stone-walled house, in the pre-dawn darkness, a man and a woman lay together. The man was married, but not to this woman. What they did was a violation of the Law. If anyone caught them together . . .
There was a soft sound at the door.
The woman gasped and froze with fear. "There's someone at the door!" she whispered to the man.
The door burst open. The woman screamed. Men entered the room, some old, some young. She knew some of the men. They were pillars of the Jerusalem community, men of power and influence, religious men.
"In the act!" one of the younger men said. "In the very act!" He picked up the woman's cloak and threw it at her.
"Cover yourself," a bearded scribe said disgustedly. "You're coming with us."
A short distance from that scene, a man walked through the narrow streets of Jerusalem toward the Temple Mount. The Temple towered over Jerusalem like a man-made mountain of snow-white marble. The first rays of the sun slanted through the double rows of Corinthian pillars that lined its porches. The looming walls of the House of God shone in the early morning light like molten gold.
The man's name, in his own Aramaic tongue, was Y'shua. But the world would someday know him by the English transliteration of his nameJesus.
He had spent the night alone on the Mount of Olives, east of the city, praying and gathering his strength after weeks of tiring, relentless opposition from his foes. He had slept beneath the olive trees and arose early, entering the city by the beautiful eastern gate. He climbed the white marble steps and paused to look out over the city of Jerusalem, its earth-colored houses and tidy green gardens spread out before him like an intricate map. Then, he turned his face toward the Temple Mount and felt the warm, golden sun on his back as he crossed the stone pavement toward Solomon's Porch.
Even at this early hour, there were people in the Temple porches. Some had come to worship God. Some had come to hear Jesus speak, for he had been teaching in the Temple courtyard for days. He sat down at the base of a great pillar. People gathered around him, first a few, then a dozen, then several dozen. Jesus began to speak.
He had only been teaching for a few minutes when he was interrupted by shouts at the back of the crowd. The crowd parted. The group of angry men pushed its way forward. They dragged a disheveled, dark-haired woman and shoved her in front of the crowd.
Jesus looked at the woman. She averted her eyes and pulled her unbound cloak more tightly around her body. Her cheeks burned.
Jesus looked inquiringly at the men.
"Master," said an aging scribe, one of the men who copied and studied the Law of Moses. His brittle voice dripped with sarcasm and loathing. "Master, this woman has been caught in adultery."
"In the very act!" said a younger man, a member of the strict religious sect called the Pharisees.
"According to the Law," the old scribe continued, "Moses commands us to stone such women to death. What do you say should be done with her?"
The woman's shoulders shook. She made no attempt to deny the accusation.
Written in the Dust
Jesus looked around at each of the men, as if reading each one's thoughts. His eyes conveyed the probing questions on his mind. You've brought to me this woman who was caught in the very act of adultery? If that is so, you must have caught the man, too. Where is the man? Under the Law, he is as guilty as she. Why did you bring one and not the other? And how did you happen to catch her in the act? What were you doing at this woman's window? And why bring her to me, a traveling preacher? Why not take her to the religious authorities to be judged?
It was obvious what had happened. These scribes and Pharisees had plotted to lay a trap for this woman, and more importantly, for Jesus himself. Jesus understood the trap they had set for him. Under the Law of Moses, the penalty for adultery was death. Yet, Israel was under
the boot of Rome, and the Romans had stripped the Jewish religious leaders of the right to impose the death penalty. If Jesus said that the woman should be spared, then the scribes and Pharisees would accuse him of violating the Law of Moses. If Jesus, however, said the woman should
be stoned, then he would be in violation of Roman law.
The scribes and Pharisees waited impatiently for his answer.
Jesus stooped down on one knee and began moving his finger in the thin film of dust at his feet. The trembling woman looked at what he was writing, and so did the men.
Centuries later, scholars would ponder the meaning of that moment, wondering what Jesus wrote in the dust. It is a paradox: This is the only recorded instance in which Jesus wrote anythingbut the words he wrote were never recorded and remain a mystery to this day.
"Well?" said one of the scribes.
"We asked you a question," snapped a gray-bearded Pharisee.
"What do you say?" demanded the aged scribe who first accused the woman. "Should she be stoned according to the Law?"
Jesus straightened and looked the old scribe in the eye. "Let the one among you who is without sin," he said, "throw the first stone at her." He eyed the scribe for a few moments, then swept the rest of the men with his gaze. Some looked away.
Jesus bent down again and wrote with his finger. He stayed like that for ten seconds, thirty seconds, a minute, just writing, writing, writing in the dust.
He heard the sound of sandal steps on stone. He glanced up. The older men had turned their backs and were walking away. Jesus glanced at some of the younger men who stood watching him, their eyes smoldering, their hands clenching and unclenching at their sides. Soon, they, too, turned and departed.
Finally, there was no one left but Jesus, the woman and the crowd that had been listening before the interruption. Still trembling with fear and flushed with shame, the woman stood with her face in her hands, weeping softly.
Jesus stood. "Woman," he said, "where are your accusers?"
She lifted her eyes and looked aroundand she gasped. "They . . . they're all gone!"
"Isn't there anyone left to condemn you?" Jesus asked.
The woman looked at him with wide eyes. In a small voice, she said, "No one, sir."
There was a faint smile on the lips of Jesus. "Then I don't condemn you either," he said. "Go on your way."
The woman nodded, clutching her robes tightly about her.
"But . . ."
The woman looked up at Jesus with questioning eyes.
"From now on," he said, "do not sin anymore."
The woman nodded, then turned and raced down the Temple steps.
How Can Anyone Be Like Jesus?
That story, from the Gospel of John, captures the essence of the man named Jesus. In it we see the full range of his character traitshis love for people, his forgiveness and compassion, his contempt for lies and hypocrisy, his capacity to think and focus, and his ability to outmaneuver his foes. He maintained a perfect balance of gracious forgiveness and absolute righteousness. He offered forgiveness to the woman, a sign of his Deity, but he also commanded her to leave her life of sin.
My goal in this book is to present a clear, accurate and balanced portrait of the flesh-and-blood man named Jesus. Together, you and I will rediscover his story in a new way by blending the accounts of the four gospels into one dramatic narrative. We'll explore the themes of his teachings and the issues of his life. We'll watch him as he taught, ministered, helped, healed, led, suffered, grieved, died and conquered as he rose from the grave. My aim is for Jesus to come alive in our minds and our imaginations so that he becomes real in our lives. Put these words in the mouth of any other man who ever lived, and they sound ludicrous.
Imagine how this world would change if every one of us was a little more like Jesus. Imagine how much more love and forgiveness there would be. Imagine how much more compassion and encouragement there would be. Imagine how many people would be lifted and empowered. Imagine how much evil and oppression would be stopped in its tracks.
As we begin this journey together, there is something we should be clear about: The theme of this book is a logical impossibility. It's a paradox. The title of this book is How to Be Like Jesus. Yet, at the same time, we have to acknowledge that no one can be like Jesus!
In all of history, there has never been anyone like Jesus. There will never be another like him. No human beingno king, statesman, general, author, scientist, preacher or philosopherhas ever had the impact on society and history that Jesus had. Jesus is unique.
Yet we can all be like Jesus. And we all should be like Jesus.
He is the most admired man who ever lived. His teachings are the most profound and life-altering words ever spoken. Of all the billions of lives that have ever been lived, his is the most admired, celebrated and worthy of emulation.
Jesus himself called us to imitate his life, to follow in his footsteps. "I am the light of the world," he said. "Whoever follows me will never walk in the dark but will live in the light of life."
You can't be like Jesus, nor can Iyet we all should be like Jesus. It is a paradoxa deep truth wrapped in a contradiction.
Before I started researching this book, I thought I knew Jesus fairly well. But in the process of studying his life and writing this book, I came to understand him in ways I never previously imagined. In these pages, I have tried to clear away preconceptions, misconceptions and stereotypes about Jesus. I have gone to the original source documents, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and I have based these insights and observations of Jesus purely on his recorded words and deeds.
In these pages, I don't want anything to come between us and Jesus. I want the purity of his story and his words to come through, so we can learn from his life, understand his words, and build the traits and character qualities of Jesus into our lives. I want the thinking, wisdom, love, humility, courage and goodness of Jesus to drench every page.
No one can be like Jesus, yet we all should be like Jesus. First, though, we must discover who he really is.
Let's go meet him together.
¬2003. All rights reserved. Reprinted from How To be Like Jesus by Pat Williams and Jim Denney. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.