|Bible graphic novel of Jesus in the Book of Revelation.|
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets’” (Matthew 16:13-14, NIV).
Comparisons are an almost inevitable part of life. People compare my face and features with my parents as they note my genetic connections. Our recent prime minister and his politicians are compared with earlier leaders to demonstrate the influences that they have in the new government. In Jesus’ day, spiritual notoriety usually led to identification with previous heroes of faith. In the same way, contemporary readers might assume the disciples were responding based on some accepted possibility of reincarnation. They were not. The disciples were not suggesting that famous people relived their lives in the present, but there were rumours that resurrection might be possible.
Some people did speculate that the late John the Baptist was back. No sooner had John been murdered by Herod (see Matthew 14:1-12) than the guilt-ridden king suggested that reports he was getting about Jesus were indications that John had come back to life. Actually, John the Baptist had predicted, Jesus was fully engaged in the ministry for which John had been the forerunner. Others also compared Jesus unusual godly presence with Elijah (see 1 Kings 17-21; 2 Kings 1-2), Jeremiah (see 2 Chronicles 35-36; Book of Jeremiah), and other prophets. People were as if saying, “This Jesus does things that remind us so much of Elijah that maybe the old prophet has come back to life!”
Think about this: It is good for people to try to understand Jesus’ identity, but it is an error simply to equate Jesus with someone else. He is unique. Others may remind us of him, but Jesus himself is without equal. We’re destined to be like him, but there will never be any doubt about who is the original and who are the copies. Jesus of the Bible – the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16) – cannot be compare with mere human religious leaders such as Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, ancient Dalai Lama, etc. These people died and gone forever, but Jesus died and rose again. Jesus is alive! Thus, Jesus is the ultimate standard of comparison. We haven’t figured out who Jesus is if we never get beyond comparing him with others. Period.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.