Walking as Jesus Walked
Speaking of Jesus, 1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” What exactly does that mean? How did Jesus walk? Some believe this verse means that Christians are to keep the Law of Moses because that’s what Jesus did. But is that the case? Let’s investigate.
How Jesus Walked
What do we know about how Jesus walked, how He lived out His life and faith? For one thing, we know he was a carpenter or tradesman who worked with his hands. He was also an itinerant teacher and preacher who walked from town to town, often slept outdoors, and didn’t own any land.
Jesus was also Jewish, so he was under the Law of Moses, and He kept all its commands perfectly. He lived in the first century, so He walked without sneakers, electricity, air conditioning, smartphones, Google, and the rest of our modern conveniences. Jesus also taught people about God and ministered to them. He healed people, cast out demons, and walked on water. He stood up to the corrupt religious leadership but never stood up to the government. He sat with sinners but never sinned with them.
And our Lord spent a lot of time alone, praying to His Father. He lived in perfect love toward those around Him. And most importantly, Jesus walked in sinless obedience to his Father, obedient even to death on the cross.
The question is this. For Christians today who want to walk like Jesus walked, which of these things are we called to emulate? All of them? Some of them? Let’s look at what Scripture says.
1 John 2:6 in Context
To understand what John meant when he wrote that we “should walk just as [Jesus] walked,” let’s read those words in context. The statement is part of a short passage in 1 John 2:3-6. Here John is teaching how we can tell if we truly know Christ. He begins in verse 3 by stating his main point: “This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands.” John then develops this idea:
The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete.1 John 2:4-5
The passage then closes with the apostle restating his main point. “This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked” (1 John 2:5-6).
We notice John is using different, synonymous phrases to express the same concepts. For example, he uses the terms “know him” and “in him” and “remain in Him” to refer to the idea of being in right relationship with Jesus. And how do we know if we’re in right relation relationship with Jesus? The apostle again uses synonymous phrases to teach that we know we are right with Jesus if we “keep his commands,” “keep his word,” or “walk as he walked.”
In other words, we know we’re right with Jesus if we are obeying what He taught us. John is equating the concept of keeping Jesus’ commands with walking the way he walked. We are to model the living out of our faith after the way Jesus lived out His faith. We’re to keep His commandments and obey all that He taught us. This passage is actually picking up on a concept John initially introduced just a few verses earlier. In 1 John 1, the apostle wrote:
This is the message we have heard from [Jesus] and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.1 John 1:5-7
And when John says we are to “walk as Jesus walked” a few verses later, he is carrying this idea forward. We are to walk in the light as Jesus himself walks in the light.
One of John’s favorite metaphors is light—he mentions it over twenty times in his letters. To walk in the light means to live in the truth of God. And here in 1 John 2, the apostle teaches that walking in the light also includes obeying God’s Word. Psalm 119 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps 119:105). To walk in the light, John teaches, is to “keep his commandments.”
Torah-observant Christians (like the Hebrew Roots Movement) want to interpret John’s instruction to “walk as Jesus walked” as referring to keeping the Law of Moses since that’s one of the ways Jesus lived out His faith. But that idea is not found in the text of 1 John, and it’s not even the topic the apostle is discussing. To “walk as Jesus walked” is to live our lives in the truth of God, expressing our love for Him by obeying by keeping His commands. What did Jesus command of us?
It’s significant that John didn’t write, “we have come to know him if we keep the commandments.” He didn’t use the definite article—“the” commandments—which would have referred to the Torah commandments. Instead, John used the pronoun “His”— “we have come to know Jesus if we keep His commandments.” And what did Jesus command of us?
In the Gospels, we find Jesus repeating and endorsing many Torah commandments: do not murder, commit adultery, steal, or bear false witness. He instructs us to honor our mother and father, love our neighbors as ourselves, and love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. Curiously, what we do not find Jesus teaching are the “ceremonial” commandments. Jesus does not teach we are to be circumcised, keep the Sabbath, keep the feasts, or eat kosher. In fact, contrary to the kosher food laws, Jesus pronounces all food clean.
“Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)Mark 7:18-19
It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t command us to keep the whole Law of Moses, yet He kept it Himself. How does that add up? Well, it turns out there are two reasons this makes good sense.
First, Jesus was Jewish. Unlike every Gentile in history, Jesus was actually under the Law of Moses. And, second, at His resurrection, the entire world changed. That one event split history in two and brought an end to the Sinai covenant (Heb 8:13). The book of Galatians teaches that the Law was given as a guardian until Jesus came, but now that He has come, we’re no longer under the Law. (Gal 3:24-25). And Ephesians 2 says that Jesus abolished “the law of commandments expressed in ordinances” so that He might reconcile both Jews and Gentiles to God (Eph 2:14-16).
The Law of Moses was in effect for the Jewish people right up until the day Jesus was crucified. On that day, the New Covenant began. Jesus told us at the Last Supper that the New Covenant was in His blood (Luke 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25). And upon His resurrection, He became our new High Priest, and “when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of law as well” (Heb 7:12). So Jesus lived His life under the Law of Moses (Gal 4:4-5). And upon His death, as the apostle Paul put it, He “redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Gal 3:13).
Walking as Jesus walked doesn’t mean we have to hike from town to town on foot, teaching people about God. It doesn’t mean we have to eschew electricity, indoor plumbing, and other modern luxuries. And it also doesn’t mean we have to keep the Law of Moses. (Especially if we’re not Jewish.) To walk as Jesus walked is to walk in the light; to live our lives in the truth of God, and to walk in love and obedience to His commands.
6 thoughts on “Walking as Jesus Walked”
Thank you so much for your ministry. It truly hits home with me.
I encountered a 3 year long run in with the Hebrew roots movement as it entered my church through the teaching of a dear friend that over time even convinced my Pastor to join in. I, being a board member at the church was the lone voice of opposition to this and learned a great deal on how this mentality evolves in a persons belief system. I was nearly convinced myself but the Holy Spirit often whispered to me how wrong this teaching is.
I could go on and on about my experience but I just wanted to share one thing I learned as it relates to this article on How did Jesus walk.
This question was posed to me with the intent being that He walked according to the law so we should also.
After much prayer and reflection I went back to my Pastor and posed the same question to him, he rolled his eyes and said , “I know. I know, Jesus walked in the spirit” I relied, Yes, He did. He kept the law due to the fact that He was Jewish and more importantly because He had to keep it in order to qualify as the perfect sacrifice for sin.
Jesus walked in the Spirit in constant communion with God.
This is how we should walk as Jesus walked. A lesson learned that I felt i needed to share with you.
This movement nearly destroyed our church, It got to the point of God telling me to leave and He will save this church.So I did, and shortly thereafter the pastor left along with the friend who brought in the teaching. The church is in a small town and had about 125 people in attendance and when the enemy was finished that shrank to 25.
I’ve since returned to the church and our attendance under our new Pastor has returned to nearly full capacity.
However, There is a new person attending that shows warning signs of dabbling in this mindset. Not sure if they even realizes what it is as of yet,. But I feel called to deal with this again as I learned so much about it before.
I am talking to my Pastor (who is not familiar with it at all) and we are trying to decide how to approach this in a loving way.
Please keep this in prayer. and again. thank you so much for your ministry.
R. L. Solberg
“Jesus walked in the Spirit in constant communion with God.” Amen. Thank you, Bill!
Thank you for your thoughts Mr. Solberg. You’ve helped me to gain more insight.
The 10 Commandments are not a Hebrew Roots movement ‘thing’. They are not a Jewish thing, they are not a SDA thing, nor a Pentecostal thing, etc. They are a Biblical thing. And they are not Moses’ Laws, they are God’s Law. The 10 Commandments were spoken aloud, by the booming and terrifying voice of God Almighty on Mt. Sinai. (Deuteronomy 5:22-26) Afterward they were written IN STONE. (Exodus 31:18)
The problem with all the modern Christianity teachings about this concept is a fundamental problem with understanding just WHO Jesus is. Contrary to a new trend of denial on the subject, Jesus Christ is God. The Bible is very plain about this in John 1:1 & 14. And, as God, He is the Creator – John 1:3 – who created ALL things. Anybody who cannot, or will not, accept this foundational Biblical fact, will never understand the Bible. The 10 Commandments are HIS Commandments. He obeyed all of them (John 15:10) – not because He was a Jew, but because He was God and He took the flesh form of a man to show us exactly how to live properly, how to live in a way that was acceptable to God Almighty. As God, He is not capable of denying Himself (2 Tim. 2:13).
Jesus obeyed all the Commandments and told us to obey them all when He told us to love our neighbor and God. Did He expect us to decide for ourselves what was the proper way, acceptable to God, to do that? Absolutely not. He had already given us the Commandments IN STONE to answer that very question. We love God by obeying the first 4 Commandments, and love our fellow man by obeying the last 6. In reality, we are loving God by obeying all of them as Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:40 that our charity to our fellow man is charity unto Him.
The craziest thing about the denial of this is that there is really only ONE Commandment anybody in the modern Christian school of thought disagrees with and that is the 4th, Saturday Sabbath, Commandment. None of them deny the rest of the Commandments in the least. This fact makes hypocrites of many modern Christians in that they deny obedience to the 10 Commandments, belittle any and all who adhere to them, while obeying 9 of the Commandments themselves, and expecting the same standard from all other professed Christians.
If anybody has any doubt about whether the Saturday Sabbath Commandment should be obeyed by modern Christians, they can do some very simple research into the Catholic admission of having changed the day themselves from Saturday to Sunday. And if that isn’t enough, turn in your Bible to Luke 23:54-56 and observe for yourself how Jesus’ followers obeyed the Sabbath Commandment the very night of His Crucifixion.
If anybody would have known what Jesus’ intentions were for Christians after His death on the Cross, these people knew it for certain; and their adherence to the Sabbath Commandment that very night, by stopping the preparation of His body for burial in order to observe the Sabbath day of rest, provides undeniable proof that we are to obey not only the Sabbath Commandment, but each and every one of the 10 Commandments. After all, they are Christ’s Commandments as He Himself created them.
R. L. Solberg
Thanks, Titus. The Catholic Church has no authority to change the commands of God, that’s for sure! But the early Church was gathering on the first day of the week long before the Catholic Church came into existence. We see evidence of that in the NT, the Didache, and other 1st century writings. At the same time, some followers of Jesus, the Jewish followers especially, were also keeping the Saturday Sabbath, even long after His resurrection. Which makes sense since the Mosaic Shabbat commands were never forbidden or prohibited. In fact, I believe Jesus and the NT authors expected that Jewish believers would go right on keeping the Shabbat. But doing so is not required of Christ-followers. Luke 23:54-56 does not teach that the Saturday Sabbath commandment should be obeyed by modern Christians. It only shows that Shabbat was observed by Jesus’ Jewish followers. That passage is descriptive, not prescriptive. And the fact is that the Mosaic Shabbat commands are not taught or given to Jesus’ followers anywhere in Scripture. In fact, they are conspicuously absent in the decision of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:1-29. Personally, I believe it is a good idea for Christ-followers rest in the Lord one day each week. It’s a beautiful rhythm for life. But it doesn’t matter which day it is, and the things we do on that day are not subject to the Mosaic regulations, and we’re certainly not liable for the death penalty if we don’t keep it.
Thank you, Titus. You are completely correct. Keep up the good fight, just as Jesus refuted the ones in his day that did not follow God’s commands we are refuting the ones in our day that do not follow His commands.