To Be Like Jesus

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world! The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 (LEB)

Remember the old chorus we used to sing in church, To Be Like Jesus? “All I ask is to be like him” is the last line, and it is one of those songs that would have been sung five or six times in a row. What does it mean when we say we want to be more like Jesus?

First, we should get his name correct. It is Yeshua in Hebrew, or Joshua, if properly translated from Hebrew to English. The name “Jesus” has been around approximately 400 years. It used to be Iesus in old English. Somebody thought it needed a “J” once the “J” was added to the English language. Iesous was the Greek name for Joshua.

Luke 4:14 1611 KJV

¶ And Iesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

Let’s look at the life of Jesus to see what we need to do to fulfill the words of the song and be “more like him”. First, we see he had a habit of going to the synagogue on the seventh day Sabbath, and he participated in the service by reading scripture.

Luke 4:16–17 (LEB)

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and according to his custom he entered into the synagogue on the day of the Sabbath and stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll he found the place where it was written

Jesus, or Yeshua, was very angry at people selling doves in the temple. This was several days before the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover and these doves were being sold for people to give as offerings at the temple. The money changers were taking advantage of the people because these offerings were needed.

Leviticus 1:14–15 (LEB)

14 “ ‘But if his offering for Yahweh is a burnt offering from the birds, then he must present his offering from the turtledoves or from the young doves. 15 The priest will present it at the altar and must wring off its head and turn it into smoke on the altar, and its blood will be drained out on the wall of the altar.

Yeshua gave them a strong rebuke. If we want to be more like Yeshua we need to rebuke leadership that takes advantage of the people in the name of providing a service for God.

Matthew 21:12–13 (CJB)

12 Yeshua entered the Temple grounds and drove out those who were doing business there, both the merchants and their customers. He upset the desks of the money-changers and knocked over the benches of those who were selling pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It has been written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it into a den of robbers!”

Peter warns that this will continue to happen to the people of God, and it clearly is still happening today.

2 Peter 2:1–3 (LEB)

2 But there were also false prophets among the people, as there will be false teachers among you also, who will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, thus bringing on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentious ways, because of whom the way of truth will be reviled. And in greediness they will exploit you with false words, whose condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Yeshua also was very defensive when the religious leaders of his day mishandled the word of God. These leaders were placing their traditions higher than the commandments of God. To be like Yeshua, we must guard the commandments of God passionately, and reject commandments invented by men that are being passed off as doctrine.

Mark 7:5–9 (LEB)

And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unclean hands?” So he said to them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far, far away from me. And they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ Abandoning the commandment of God, you hold fast to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You splendidly ignore the commandment of God so that you can keep your tradition.

Another trait that we see that Yeshua has is that he continually quotes verses from the Old Testament. He seems to know scripture very well and uses it while making a point. He used scripture to overcome the adversary when tempted.

Matthew 4:1–11 (LEB)

4 Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil, and after he had fasted forty days and forty nights, then he was hungry. And the tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, order that these stones become bread.” But he answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man will not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’ ”

Deuteronomy 8:2–3 (LEB) And you shall remember all of the way that Yahweh your God led you during these forty years in the desert in order to humble you and to test you to know what is in your heart, whether you would diligently keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you go hungry, and then he fed you with that which you did not know nor did your ancestors know, in order to make you know that not by bread alone but by all that goes out of the mouth of Yahweh humankind shall live.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the highest point of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down! For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will lift you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”  Jesus said to him, “On the other hand it is written, ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

Deuteronomy 6:16–17 (LEB) 16 You shall not put Yahweh your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of Yahweh your God and his legal provisions and his rules that he has commanded you.

Again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him, “I will give to you all these things, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan, for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and began ministering to him.

Deuteronomy 6:13–15 (LEB) 13 “You shall fear Yahweh your God, and you shall serve him, and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods from the gods of the peoples who are all around you, 15 for Yahweh your God is a jealous god in your midst, so that the anger of Yahweh your God would be kindled, and he would destroy you from the face of the earth.

Even the devil can quote scripture. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down! For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will lift you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”. This is why we need to study all scripture, so we know when someone is trying to lead us astray by quoting scripture verses that sound legitimate, but in light of all scripture, are being twisted.

Yeshua also celebrated the biblical feast days of God. Many people label these feast as Jewish, but that is simply because the Jews are the only ones still keeping them. They were meant for all of God’s people, and if we want to be “more like Jesus” we would need this to be on our list.

We see Yeshua coming down to Jerusalem for the Feast of Sukkot, also called Tabernacles and Booths.

John 7:2–10 (CJB)

But the festival of Sukkot in Y’hudah was near; so his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go into Y’hudah, so that your talmidim can see the miracles you do; for no one who wants to become known acts in secret. If you’re doing these things, show yourself to the world!” (His brothers spoke this way because they had not put their trust in him.) Yeshua said to them, “My time has not yet come; but for you, any time is right. The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me, because I keep telling it how wicked its ways are. You, go on up to the festival; as for me, I am not going up to this festival now, because the right time for me has not yet come.” Having said this, he stayed on in the Galil. 10 But after his brothers had gone up to the festival, he too went up, not publicly but in secret.

The Complete Jewish Bible does a better job of translating what most versions render “the feast of the Jews”. With those versions it is as if John, the author, and Yeshua were not Jewish. Here is how it is translated in other translations of the Bible:

John 7:2–10 (LEB)

Now the feast of the Jews—the feast of Tabernacles—was near. So his brothers said to him, “Depart from here and go to Judea, so that your disciples also can see your works that you are doing. For no one does anything in secret and yet he himself desires to be publicly recognized. If you are doing these things, reveal yourself to the world!” (For not even his brothers believed in him.) So Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I am testifying about it, that its deeds are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, because my time is not yet completed. And when he had said these things, he remained in Galilee. 10 But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not openly, but (as it were) in secret.

On the last day of the Feast, Yeshua was still there in Jerusalem celebrating. He was paralleling this day with himself. Instead of praying for rain, He was telling them to come to him for living water. Learning the intricacies of the feasts will help one understand much of the events in the gospels.

John 7:37–39 (LEB)

37 Now on the last day of the feast—the great day—Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let him drink, 38 the one who believes in me. Just as the scripture said, ‘Out of his belly will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 (Now he said this concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. For the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

The next day, we find Yeshua back at the temple for Shemini Atzeret. Where he declares that he is the light of the world.

John 8:1–2 (LEB)

8 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning he came again to the temple courts. And all the people were coming, and he sat down and began to teach them.

John 8:12 (LEB)

12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world! The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Yeshua also came to Jerusalem to celebrate Hanukkah. This was not a biblical commanded feast, but a national celebration of the dedication of the temple after the Greeks had defiled it in 168 BCE. The Jewish people were becoming Hellenized by the Greeks and were losing their identity. The Greek leader, Antiochus Epiphanes, made laws forbidding keeping God’s commandments, burned torah scrolls and he actually defiled the temple of God by sacrificing a pig on the alter at the time of the winter solstice celebration. A priest of God in a small community outside Jerusalem, Mattathias, would not sacrifice to idols and started a revolt by killing the Greek commander ordering the sacrifice in his community. His son, Judah, lead the revolt, eventually regaining control of the temple. The temple had to be cleansed and dedicated back to Yahweh after the defilement of the pig sacrifice. Hanukkah is simply the celebration of the dedication of the temple. Without Hanukkah there would be no temple, no linage of David and no Messiah.

It is no coincidence that it is celebrated in close proximity to Christmas time. This celebration time of the winter solstice was borrowed from the people who desecrated the temple with the pig sacrifice to Zeus (Ba’al) , and converted falsely to the birthday of Jesus. It went from the birthday of the sun, or son of Ba’al, to supposedly the birthday of the son of Yahweh.

John 10:22–24 (CJB)

22 Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade. 24 So the Judeans surrounded him and said to him, “How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us publicly!”

This map is from http://www.ezilon.com and I inserted a blue line to show the journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Yeshua was not just randomly walking around the temple coincidentally at the time of Hanukkah.

Yeshua also kept the feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread.

John 2:23–25 (LEB)

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in his name because they saw his signs which he was doing. 24 But Jesus himself did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people, 25 and because he did not need anyone to testify about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Yeshua resurrected from the dead. This is our hope, for if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Paul says we are most pitiable.

Mark 16:1–7 (LEB)

16 And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchased fragrant spices so that they could go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they came to the tomb after the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away (for it was very large). And as they were going into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified. He has been raised, he is not here! See the place where they laid him! But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.”

1 Corinthians 15:17–19 (LEB)

17 But if Christ has not been raised, your faith is empty; you are still in your sins. 18 And as a further result, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ in this life only, we are of all people most pitiable.

The list goes on and on; however, one more thing we could do to be like Yeshua is be obedient to the Father. He only said what he heard his father say and only did what he saw his father doing. That should be easy for us because we have everything He said recorded in the Old Testament, so we can study the ways of the Creator and do what He said to do.

John 12:49–50 (LEB)

49 For I have not spoken from myself, but the Father himself who sent me has commanded me what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So the things that I say, just as the Father said to me, thus I say.”

Something we do not see Yeshua doing is taking part in the pagan celebrations, such as Saturnalia. This is the festival that would later be converted into the celebration of the birth of Christ by the Roman church, much like the Greeks celebrated when they desecrated the temple in 168 BCE. One would think this would be mentioned somewhere in scripture in a positive light if we were supposed to convert the holy days of the god Saturn (Ba’al), from ancient times, into the celebration of the birth of Yeshua. The irony is overwhelming once examined. Saturn, Zeus, Jupiter and Ba’al are essentially all the same entity with different myths from different cultures. These celebrations have nothing to do with Yeshua, the Messiah.

Ezekiel 22:26–28 (LEB)

26 Its priests treat my law violently, and they profane my holy objects; they do not distinguish between a holy object and what is unholy, or between the clean and the unclean. They do not teach the difference, and they hide their eyes from my Sabbaths, and so I am profaned in the midst of them. 27 Its officials are like wolves tearing prey in its midst, to pour out blood, to destroy people, to make dishonest gain. 28 And for them its prophets plaster whitewash; they are seeing falseness and are practicing divination for them by lying, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh,’ and Yahweh has not spoken.

In conclusion, to “be more like Jesus” is to hold religious leaders accountable, keep and guard the commandments of God, celebrate the Biblical feasts, frequently quote the scriptures, and say and do the things the Father says and does.

Featured photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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