Some Christians question how they are supposed to imitate Jesus. Besides, I’m sure this commentary is typical of so many that don’t want to dig a little deeper, as it is a good opportunity to be irreligious. The words cop-out come to mind. I’d like to make two comments: one religious and the other personal. The first is a cry from God who said, “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). In other words, they haven’t read the scriptures which are God’s guidelines for a happy life with Him, starting in this life. The second comment is a corollary to the scripture above and was given by Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Defense Minister as “I didn’t know how much I didn’t know because I didn’t know how much there was to know!”
The point is that God’s love for us is so complete that we can know what are future happenings. The bottom line is that the Bible-reading Christians never have to ask, “What’s going on?” A recent example is so indicative as Matthew 24:6 states that in the last days there will be a pestilence. He also lists the happenings of the last days; and if you watch the news, you can see we are already there. Last Days – Covid 19 – a pestilence predicted 2,000 years ago. Or is the virus a biological weapon?
Let’s return to the comment that you can’t imitate Jesus because He is God. The answer is not in uninformed public opinions or comments. The solution is in the book of Philippians 3 that states while Jesus is God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Therefore, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave and the appearance of a man. Isaiah described Jesus as, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). In other words, Jesus looked like an everyday Jewish man as Jesus put aside His divine holiness. Next, we will examine how Jesus worked miracles, having put aside His Godhead, and how we can imitate Him.
While John the Baptist is considered the last prophet before Jesus, he was instrumental in equipping Jesus for His introduction of the kingdom. Therefore, we will examine Jesus’s power as the Trinity was involved. As Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit came upon Him, and the Heavenly Father said, “This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, NIV). John was told that when he saw the Spirit descend and rest on someone, it was the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33). This is the scriptural proof that we can imitate Jesus if we are baptized by Jesus as He was baptized.
When He was baptized, Jesus received the nine Gifts of the Spirit and began His public ministry. The nine gifts were wisdom; knowledge; faith; healing; miracles; prophecy; discernment; tongues; and interpretation (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).). After choosing His apostles and disciples, He then authorized the twelve disciples to visit only Jewish settlements and to heal the sick and perform other ministry gifts. Jesus also told them, “The gift you have received, give as a gift” (Matthew 10:8). This is good advice for any Born-Again Christian. The apostles were not yet baptized by the Holy Spirit, so this mission was for training in usage of the gifts. After His death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples in a locked room. In a sense, He ordained them, saying, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21-23).
He then said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” and authorized them to forgive or bind sins. Another time, He told them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you (Acts 1:8). With this baptism of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the followers of Jesus were equipped with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is how the apostles and disciples imitated Jesus. This is how we are all called to follow the example of Jesus Christ. The traditional teaching is that we receive the Holy Spirit, including His gifts upon salvation. When we receive the Baptism of the Spirit, the gifts are released for ministry. These are the gifts, the virtues, and the Fruit of the Spirit, the latter two for personal growth while the gifts are for ministry and are reflective of the miracles that Jesus worked.
While we are in awe when we think about the miracles and healings Jesus performed, perhaps we miss the overall character of our Lord. The command to Love God and your neighbor pertains to the human aspect of Jesus. His love, then, was a dominating feature. I think of His protective apostles refusing to let the children come to Jesus. He rebuked them and the children came to Him. Can you see the children climbing on Jesus as he has this great smile and the children sense His goodness? Scripture does say He took them up in His arms, laid hands on them and blessed them.
It is important that we do not forget the lesson of the children that Jesus used to teach His followers and, of course, believers today. He said that we need to become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. What are the characteristics of children that we need to practice? The first is trust. When Jesus said we are to pick up our cross and follow Him, this meant to trust Him in everything. Next is plain acceptance. The early followers clearly had this when Jesus said “follow me,” and they did, sensing His character. The next is difficult for some, but it is accepting God’s love. When you read that God IS love (1 John 4:8), what else do you think it means? Paul tied this together with, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
Jesus Himself explained His personhood when He said, “Before Abraham, I AM” (John 8:58). Other scriptures can also increase our understanding of Jesus. Paul explains that the Father was pleased that all the fullness dwelled in His Son (Colossians 1:19). Note that John didn’t say that Jesus had love, but that Jesus IS love. Therefore, as Jesus dwells in us by His Holy Spirit, hopefully a personal relationship with our Lord ensues, and all the endowments of the Holy Spirit will be used for ministry as well as personal spiritual growth.
Another questionable area for young Christians is confusion about salvation, achieving heaven, and the Rapture. God, who knows our uncertainties, has provided answers in the sacred scriptures. Here are several results:
Salvation: “God has not destined us for wrath, but for acquiring salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9; John 3:16).
Heaven: “I have written this to you to make you realize that you possess eternal life –you who believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).
Rapture: The Rapture signifies the end of the Church Age as living and dead Christians immediately acquire an eternal body and meet Jesus in the clouds and then are brought to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
During His lifetime, Jesus considered His forthcoming persecution, beatings, and crucifixion as the fulfilment of His Father’s plan to forgive mankind. He sadly commented that the narrow gate leads to heaven while the wide gate is necessary for the great throngs of people going to perdition (Matthew 7:13-14). He expanded this to ask, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find any faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). The modern culture of sin, anti-God, and paganism clearly answers that poignant question.
It is now realistic to ask Jesus to accept your sinful nature and forgive you as you await the Rapture and avoid seven years of terror in the Tribulation period. Afterward, Jesus will return to earth with the Born- Again flock, judge the nations, and set up His earthly kingdom for one thousand years.
“Be on your guard; the Son of Man will come when you least expect Him” (Luke 12:40)
Books by the author: Gilded Walk; Gifts; Choices; Together