A photo of a person kneeling in prayer, with sunlight streaming through a church window, symbolizing Jesus' desire for us to seek guidance, love one another, and have faith.

What Does Jesus Want Us To Do? A Detailed Look At His Teachings

The teachings of Jesus have resonated with people for over 2000 years. Even today, millions look to his words and deeds for guidance on how to live a moral, compassionate life. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Jesus wants us to love God and love our neighbor.

He calls us to repent, believe in him, and follow his example of selfless service to others.

In this comprehensive article, we will unpack key themes and examples from the life of Jesus to understand what he really wants from his followers. We will examine his teachings on topics like money, enemies, prayer, charity, judging others, and more.

By looking at the big picture of Jesus’ ministry, we can grasp the core principles he promoted and gain wisdom for applying them in our daily lives today.

Repentance and Belief Are Foundational

Jesus’ Call to Repentance

One of the core messages of Jesus’ teaching was the call to repentance. In Matthew 4:17, one of the first things Jesus began preaching was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” To repent means to turn away from sin, wrongdoing, and disobedience toward God.

It involves a changed mind and a changed heart that leads to changed behavior. Jesus emphasized that repentance was necessary for entering God’s kingdom (Matthew 18:3). His message echoed that of John the Baptist, who came before Jesus proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4).

Jesus made it clear that unless people repented, they would perish (Luke 13:3). He wanted people to have sincere sorrow for their sins and turn wholeheartedly back to God.

Belief and Trust in Jesus

Jesus repeatedly emphasized that people must believe in Him to receive salvation and eternal life. For example, in John 3:16 Jesus stated that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Faith and belief in Christ were essential according to Jesus’ teachings. He criticized people for having little faith (Matthew 6:30) and commended those who had great faith (Matthew 8:10). Jesus taught that only through faith in Him could people be forgiven of sins (Luke 5:20), become children of God (John 1:12), and enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:5).

He declared Himself to be the only way to the Father (John 14:6), the good shepherd (John 10:11), the bread of life (John 6:35), and more. He wanted people to believe His words and place their complete trust in Him.

Turning From Sin

An important part of Jesus’ call to repentance was the command to turn from sinful ways. He condemned hypocrisy, greed, pride, lust, anger, and hatred. He told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

Jesus taught that anyone who continued to willfully sin became a slave to sin (John 8:34) and that broad was the road that led to destruction (Matthew 7:13). His message was clear that following Him required leaving behind selfishness, immorality, and ungodly living.

Though Jesus strongly rebuked and warned those engaged in evil deeds, He was also full of amazing grace, love, and mercy to those who turned from sin. His teachings emphasized that true repentance involves both turning away from sin and turning toward God.

Loving God with All Your Heart

The Greatest Commandment

Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). This means we should have an all-consuming love for God that guides everything we do. God should be our top priority in life.

Obeying God’s Laws

If we truly love God, we will show it by obeying His commandments and living according to His will. As Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). Some key aspects of God’s will include being humble, merciful, pure in heart, seeking righteousness, and promoting peace.

Pursuing an Intimate Relationship with God

Loving God involves cultivating a deep, intimate, personal relationship with Him. We grow closer to God through practices like prayer, Bible study, fasting, and worship. The more time we spend focusing on God, the more our love and knowledge of Him will increase.

As we draw near to Him, He promises to draw near to us (James 4:8).

Prayer and Worship

Two essential ways we express our love for God are through prayer and worship. Prayer allows us to communicate intimately with our Heavenly Father. Worship is expressing our adoration and praise to God for who He is.

The Bible encourages us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to “worship the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2).

Trusting God’s Provision and Timing

Loving God means trusting in His faithful provision and perfect timing, even when we don’t understand His plans. As we wait on the Lord, He renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31). He assures us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Though trials will come, we can confidently rely on God’s unfailing love and sovereignty.

Loving Your Neighbor As Yourself

Serving Others’ Needs

Jesus calls us to look beyond ourselves and serve the needs of others, just as He gave His life for us. Some ways we can serve others include volunteering at a homeless shelter, tutoring children in need, donating to charity, and checking in on elderly neighbors.

Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). Serving others demonstrates Christ’s love in tangible ways and builds community.

Forgiving Others

Forgiving those who have wronged us can be very difficult, but Jesus emphasizes the importance of forgiveness. He tells us to forgive not just seven times, but “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). Holding onto anger and bitterness only hurts us, while forgiveness frees our hearts.

Of course, forgiveness does not mean staying in an abusive situation. But letting go of the desire for revenge allows us to heal. As Jesus forgave those who crucified Him, He calls us to extend grace and mercy to others.

Seeing Everyone’s Inherent Dignity

Jesus looked past surface level differences and saw each person’s inherent worth. He broke cultural barriers by speaking with a Samaritan woman (John 4:7-9) and healing a Roman centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10).

The apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Though we are all unique, we are all made in the image of God. When we honor the dignity in others, we reflect God’s kingdom.

Building Community

In His ministry, Jesus formed a community of followers united by faith and love. The early church likewise met together, shared meals, prayed, and supported each other (Acts 2:42-47). Our neighbors include our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Finding community in a local church family provides encouragement and accountability in following Jesus. Small groups offer a space for deeper connections. Unity amid diversity displays Christ’s reconciling work.

Practicing Hospitality

Hospitality is a way to care for others’ basic needs. Jesus received hospitality from Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (Luke 10:38-42), showing this is a mutual blessing. Providing a welcoming, safe place to stay meets a need for community.

According to Hebrews 13:2, some have “entertained angels without knowing it” through hospitality. Sharing meals together builds relationships. Hospitality can be risky and require sacrifice, but Christ calls us to open our hearts and doors to those in need.

Living Out Kingdom Values

Caring for the Poor and Marginalized

Jesus consistently demonstrated compassion for the poor and marginalized. He reached out to lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and others rejected by society (Matthew 8:1-3; Luke 19:1-10). Jesus taught that when we care for “the least of these,” it’s as if we’re caring for Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-46).

Organizations like World Vision and Compassion International work to serve the poor in Jesus’ name.

Avoiding Greed and Materialism

Jesus warned against greed and materialism which can choke out our faith (Luke 12:13-21; Matthew 6:19-24). Instead of pursuing wealth, Jesus calls us to be generous and rely on God’s provision (Luke 6:38; Matthew 6:25-34).

For example, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University teaches biblical principles of money management.

Pursuing Righteousness and Justice

Jesus was passionate about pursuing justice, rebuking religious leaders who “neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23). Organizations like International Justice Mission fight human trafficking and oppression.

Believers must stand up for the vulnerable and oppressed in society.

Rejecting Hypocrisy and Empty Religion

Jesus strongly critiqued religious leaders who were hypocritical and focused on external appearance over internal change (Matthew 23). He warned against empty, repetitive religious rituals (Matthew 6:7-8).

Instead, Christ calls us to genuine faith that transforms our hearts and minds from the inside out. Regularly examining our hearts and motivations keeps us from hypocrisy.

Being a Peacemaker

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) and to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). Organizations like Bpeace equip business leaders to be forces for peace in their communities. As followers of Christ, we are called to bring reconciliation and restoration, not strife and division.

Following Jesus’ Example

Self-Sacrifice and Servanthood

Jesus demonstrated profound self-sacrifice and servanthood throughout His ministry. Though He was God’s Son, He willingly laid aside His rights and privileges to serve humanity (Philippians 2:5-8). He provided the ultimate example of selfless sacrifice by giving His life to save us from our sins (Romans 5:6-8).

We are called to follow Christ’s model by humbly serving others just as Jesus washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:12-17).

Humility and Meekness

Though Jesus was God in the flesh, He exemplified remarkable humility throughout His life on earth. Jesus described Himself as “gentle and humble in heart” and encouraged His followers to emulate the same attitude (Matthew 11:29).

Rather than asserting His rights as the Son of God, Christ submitted to injustice and rejection. His meekness was evident even during His excruciating death on the cross (1 Peter 2:23). We must clothe ourselves with humility toward one another as we reflect Christ to the world around us (1 Peter 5:5-7).

Obedience to God

Jesus perfectly obeyed the will of His Heavenly Father during His earthly life. He asserted, “I always do what pleases the Father” (John 8:29). Even when facing the agonizing sacrifice of the cross, Christ submitted to God’s plan saying, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

If we are followers of Jesus, we must also obey God wholeheartedly. Our obedience is an act of love and trust in our faithful Creator (John 14:15).

Compassion for the Hurting

Jesus consistently demonstrated selfless compassion toward those who were hurting and in need. He healed the sick (Matthew 14:14), comforted the grieving (Luke 7:13), and welcomed marginalized outcasts of society like lepers (Luke 17:12-19).

Christ calls His people to emulate the same compassion for the poor, widowed, orphaned and oppressed (Matthew 25:34-40). As His followers, we must open our eyes to the pain around us, sacrificially meet pressing needs, and reveal Christ’s comfort to a broken world.

Unwavering Commitment to God’s Kingdom

During His time on earth, Jesus was wholly committed to furthering the Kingdom of God. Though facing temptation and opposition, Christ remained faithful to proclaiming and demonstrating the Good News of salvation to lost sinners.

Jesus calls His followers to share this same undivided, persistent devotion to the advancement of God’s Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). As modern disciples, we need to faithfully fulfill His Great Commission to make the hope of Christ known among all peoples (Matthew 28:19-20).


Jesus’ teachings reveal his desire for us to live in deep relationship with God and love for others. While his expectations are high, he empowers us to follow him by his Spirit at work within us. As we grow in applying the principles Jesus taught, we experience more of the abundant life he intends for us.

In a world filled with fear, hatred, and selfishness, his countercultural call still rings out today. By taking Jesus’ words to heart and allowing them to transform us, we can fulfill his purposes in our lives and world.

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