No, it’s not a gourmet type of fish. Nor is it the style of dress your cousin wore to her cotillion. It isn’t even the technical term for the lower left elbow. It is the Greek word for ‘mimicry’, but it is also the Greek word for ‘follow.’ The word in Greek for following and imitating are the same, which is extraordinarily telling of what the life of a ‘follower of Christ’ should look like: it should look like Christ. In the passage where Christ reinstates Peter after he has denied Him three times, the following discourse takes place,
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” (John 21:15-19 ESV)
Christ explains to Peter that he will suffer and die just like He did. That his death will mimic the death of Christ. Then He simply says, “Follow me.” While we are not called to suffer and die in the same way that Christ was, we are still called to follow and, as an extension of that following, imitate Christ. Peter had no say how he would die, he simply followed Christ and, through his following, he imitated Him both in life and in death.
This is a common theme throughout all of Scripture: when people wholly follow God, they imitate Christ. We see it in the life of Joseph, suffering as though he was guilty and saving his brothers, the life of Issac, bearing the wood across his back that Abraham planned to use to sacrifice him, and in the lives of many others. The one I have chosen to narrow in on is the life of David, specifically as he prepared to fight Goliath.
David gives this speech to Saul, persuading him that going to take on Goliath was not a suicide mission, as they had God on their side,
“But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.’ And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.'” (1 Samuel 17:34-37 ESV)
David totally stepped out in faith in this moment. He knew that if he was on his own, he was as good as dead but trusted in God to such an extent that he did not even break a nervous sweat. He followed God wherever He called Him, and, as a result, imitated Christ.
Skip forward a millennium and we come across Jesus, speaking to the crowds and to the Pharisees about being the Good Shepard:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep…For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I might take it up again…This charge I have received from my Father. ” (John 10:11, 14-15, 17-18 ESV)
David, by the charge of his father, tended to the sheep. Prior to this event and his anointing as King, David had been considered the least of his family, but now that he laid down his life for the sheep (in this instance, all of the Israelite army), he was loved and embraced by his father. David knew each and every sheep and cared for them all on behalf of his father. A few verses earlier Christ stated, ”
A few verses earlier Christ stated, “He who does not enter sheephold by the door, but climbs in by another way is a thief and a robber…The thief only comes to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:1, 10 ESV) Christ lays down His life for the sheep, protecting them from the thief that only comes to kill. David lays down his life for the sheep protecting them from the animal that only comes to kill.
The parallels are endless which speaks volumes to the concept. And this is only one man, in one instance, there are thousands of other moments like this. But the idea is clear. When we step out in faith, we do it by the power of God and because we are acting out of God’s strength, we behave in the way God does. If you have a moment, read Psalms 22 and tell me if it sounds familiar. From David and Goliath to the fiery furnace, the testing of Abraham to the Passover, all things done in faith in God parallel Christ. So if we find ourselves in a situation where God is calling us to step out in faith. To do the unthinkable. And we find ourselves scared because we won’t have the right words or choose the right action, we do not need to worry. When we follow God to wherever He says, we imitate Christ without even knowing it. That is the power of Christ in us and that is where we find our strength to face the day.
With the faith that is ours in Christ,
“The Lord who delivered me from the
paw of the lion and the paw of the bear
will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine”
1 Samuel 17:37 ESV
The next message, “Breakfast with God” shall be posted Wednesday morning. I’ll see you then!