Lincoln and Kennedy
One of the pervading urban legends in American culture is the list of some forty plus similarities between John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. Conspiracy theorists love this kind of stuff! The list is so striking that some have wondered if there isn’t some mystical meaning behind the number of uncanny similarities between the two dead presidents. For instance...
- Both have seven letters in their last names. Spooky right? Don't worry, it gets better.
- Both were elected to the House of Representatives in 46', one hundred years apart of course. Both were elected to the presidency in 60'.
- Both had VP's and successors named Johnson, born in 08’.
- Both presidents were shot in the head, from behind, sitting with their wives, in the presence of another couple, on a Friday.
- Lincoln supposedly had a secretary named Kennedy who warned him not to go to the theater; Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln who warned him not to go to Dallas.
- Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater; Kennedy was shot in a Lincoln-Ford automobile.
- John Wilkes Booth ran from a theater to a warehouse; Lee Harvey Oswald ran from a warehouse to a theater.
- Both of their assassins were killed before they went to trial.
While we must acknowledge that these coincidences are startling, there should be no coincidence whatever in our resemblance to Jesus Christ. This should be the intentional goal of our sanctification.
The more closely and intimately we walk with our Lord Jesus Christ in discipleship and sanctification, the more we will actually begin to emulate and resemble Him. In short, we must become like our master.
Let me be clear. I am not saying that if you are an obedient Christian, you too will grow out your hair and beard, wear a linen ephod, and end up with an appointment with a martyr’s stake. I don’t expect that the persecution and death of our Lord Jesus will be recapitulated in your life. But I am saying that the more you begin to resemble Jesus in action and affection, the more the world will view you as it viewed our Savior.
This is expressly taught by our Lord Jesus Himself repeatedly:
· Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34 ESV).
· Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do (John 14:12 ESV).
· If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you (John 15:18f ESV).
In fact, the very word “disciple” is the Greek word mathetes (from whence we get the word mathematics) meaning a learner, i.e. one who learns—not just taking on knowledge—but also taking on the character of the master.
Romans 8:29 summarizes this truth thusly, “For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (emphasis added).
Let me conclude by asking you some questions that you might apply directly to yourself.
- To your knowledge, is your resemblance to the Master, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, growing, stagnant, or fading? Do you see in yourself more and more resemblance to His character and conduct? His actions and inclinations? Or are you just another poor caricature of culture?
- If you answered yes to the first question, do other people recognize this in you in growing measure? That’s really important. The possibility of self-deception is lurking dangerously. It may not be that you are actually being transformed more and more into the image of Christ, but simply that you are reading more and more of yourself into the Jesus of the Gospels. Oh how subtle that pernicious error is! The opinion of others is critical in this regard.
- If you answered yes to that question, proceed to the third. Do you find yourself sharing the affections (deep emotions) that Jesus held? If we are going to walk with Jesus one step further, His affections must become ours. We must love what He loves, hate what He hates, have pity on what He pities, be angered by what angers Him etc. To be a Christian is to feel acutely! Does your heart not weep for the lost? Does your heart not soar for the glory of God! Does your heart not rejoice at the mention of His name? It is impossible to be a Christian and to be remain indifferent to the lost condition of the world.
- Finally, if you’ve answered yes to all three questions so far, proceed to the last: Is this resemblance to Jesus causing you more and more tension and conflict with our lie-enamored culture? Do you find yourself more and more unsettled in your view of the world, or do you find yourself quite contented and numb? If it is the latter, return to Q#1 and re-evaluate.