Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mistaken for Jesus


Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” – Mark 8:27-28

We often get mistaken for someone else, whether it’s a cousin, a sibling, or a total stranger.  But can you imagine being mistaken for Jesus?  Elijah was so much like Jesus that people thought Jesus was him.  In Mark 8 when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” He found that many thought He was Elijah.  Note that it wasn’t personal appearance that they found to be like Elijah, for they had never seen Elijah, who died hundreds of years before.  It was Elijah’s reputation that they knew, and this was what they found to be like Jesus.

What was Elijah like?  In his own words in 1 Kings 19:10 & 14 he said “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts”.  To be zealous is to be devoted with passion and enthusiasm.  Elijah loved what God loved, and hated what God hated – idolatry and unbelief.  He served God passionately, even when his own life became hunted for His service to God.

On Mt. Carmel he faced off alone against 450 prophets of Baal in a challenge to show the power of God over Baal.  The 450 prophets killed a bull and put its body on an altar and prayed, shouted, prophesied, and even cut themselves to get their gods attention.  Elijah in his zeal for God mocked them saying “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 

Then when it was Elijah’s turn to sacrifice a bull, he made an altar of twelve stones, one for each tribe of Israel, the people God loved who had turned to Idolatry.  He named the altar Israel.  In 1 Kings 19:36-37, He prayed to God saying Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”  His motive was not to find fame among the people or to be proven right.  His motive wasn’t to show a magic act and amuse the people with God’s power.  His motive was to create believers of those who had fallen into idolatry, to turn them back to God.  He loved what God loved, and wanted them to love God in return. 

In his passion to see God’s amazing power, he built a trench around the altar, and filled it three times with water to soak the ground and the stones.  He wanted not just to prove that God could do what Baal could not, but to prove that God could do what was impossible for man.  When Elijah called down God’s Holy fire, it consumed the bull, the wood, and the stones, and dried up the water in the trench!  After proving that God is all powerful even over the impossible, he captured the 450 prophets of Baal and executed them all there on Mt. Carmel.  This put his life in danger because these prophets were Jezebel’s prophets.   

To have a reputation like Elijah, we have to be willing to step out in faith, believe God will meet us.  We have to be passionate about our relationship with God, and our ability to serve Him in whatever way He chooses.  We have to be willing to walk away from what is comfortable, and safe, trusting that He will protect us.  We have to love what God loves, and hate what God hates.  When our will is aligned with God’s will, then we are most like Jesus.

Jesus said in John 8:28-29 When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” 

Jesus said that He does what God tells Him to do.  This was Jesus reputation, and was much like that of Elijah.  Jesus served God in all that He did from healing the blind to making a fig tree wilt.  In everything He did, God instructed, and Jesus followed through.  When it wasn’t comfortable, Jesus was found in the garden praying “not my will, but yours be done”, and following God’s will even to death.

Some will say, “Yes, but Jesus was God…I can’t be like Him!” May I remind you that He gave you His Holy Spirit when you were saved by faith (Ephesians 1:13-14), and God said to “be holy” (1 Peter 1:16 Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7).  In James 5:16 says that “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours”.  He was just a man, like us, and yet they saw similarities in Elijah and Jesus.

How many times are we mistaken for Jesus?  Is our reputation and character so much like Jesus that we cause people to see the similarities?  Is our will and our faith walk aligned with God in such a way that we love what He loves, and hate what He hates?  Are others are reminded of Jesus when they meet us?  Being Christ-like is what being a Christian is about.  

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