08 Dec “Are You Jesus’ Doppelgänger?” by Stephen Hutchins
In the fall of 1981, while away at school, a friend and I stopped into a Taco Bell in Langhorne, PA for a bite to eat. No sooner had we sat down when a young boy began pointing at me mouthing something sounding like “looo,” “looo”, much to his parents’ (especially his mom’s) dismay. I warmly acknowledged his curious attention to me at various junctures, but otherwise tried to enjoy my burritos.
Later on during our meal, this family got up to leave but before doing so, the mother of this boy approached our table sort of sheepishly. She then apologized for her son’s behavior and then followed that up with a rather astonishing explanation: her son thought I was Luke Skywalker!
Even though this kid was only 4 or 5, it did make me feel a little flattered that someone out there thought I was the actor Mark Hamill’s doppelgänger.
Recently, while thinking about this ancient encounter (the current hype surrounding the upcoming Star Wars release probably triggered this memory), I remembered my oft encounters with the doppelgängers of the Bible. No, not the people we meet in its pages. I’m talking about what I’ve come to call “scriptural doppelgängers” over the years. As I define it, a scriptural doppelgänger is a passage that is the same in word or in essence somewhere else in the Bible.
One of my favorite examples is found in the books of 2 Kings and the first letter of John. In the sixth chapter of 2 Kings we find the Arameans at war with Israel. The king of Aram’s methodology of warfare in this case was to ambush the Israel’s army. Each time he tried this, though, Israel’s king and army weren’t where the Aramean army’s intelligence had determined they’d be. Naturally, the king suspected a mole in the midst of his inner circle and was ready to “out” the person and execute swift justice. During this confrontation with his brain trust, one of his advisors suggests that this must be the work of the prophet Elisha in Israel who has these special powers to know things before they happen and advises the king of Israel. Learning that Elisha is presently residing in the city of Dothan, the king sends his army there to take him out. Elisha’s aide-de-camp freaks out the following morning when he looks outside and sees the city surrounded by a massive army with their horses and chariots.
Confronted with this alarming news by his servant, Elisha is completely unflustered and says “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Now, doesn’t THAT sound familiar? To me, that verse is a doppelgänger to “…greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) I commend the rest of 2 Kings 6 to you to find out what happened next, but there is no way Elisha’s words make any sense outside of the supernatural. He was declaring that no matter what forces are arrayed against God’s people, they are a minority and ultimately destined to lose.
Another quick example of an inter-Testament doppelgänger can be seen in Jeremiah 23:29 when compared with Hebrews 4:12. The Spirit-inspired writers use different metaphors to describe the Word of God but their point is exactly the same—the Word of God is a powerful tool in the arsenal of His Spirit.
So what? Are these just neat little trivial observations in God’s Word? I would say they’re more than that. I think they speak to the unity of the Scriptures. How could a book written by so many different people over so much time and in distinctive circumstances be so unified in its message? An excerpt from Dean Davis’ excellent article “One Shot, One Book, One God” puts it this way:
“Christians are often asked, How do you know that the Bible is the Word of God? One succinct answer we can give is that the Bible bears God’s fingerprint: order. Order involves a multiplicity of objects or parts that are unified according to a definite plan. The existence of order, or design, implies that an intelligent designer has been at work. Order is observable in the realms of science and ethics and points to the fact that an intelligent, personal, creative, powerful God exists. Order is also evident in the Bible. It is a multiplicity of books, written by many authors, over many years, in many literary styles, that contain many stories about many people, places, things, and events. It also displays an intricate, multilayered unity. It is one story, about one God, who is administering one plan of salvation, that is centered around one person (Christ), who is attested to by one body of signs, and who is worshiped by one people, according to one worldview. Like a spiral galaxy or a hummingbird’s wing or a strand of DNA, the order found in the Bible could not have been created by a mere mortal, but only by God.”
As we become more familiar with the Scriptures, we constantly bump into these recurring themes that I’m talking about. Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of these scriptural doppelgängers—though certainly not an exhaustive one. What are some of the ones you’ve encountered in your Bible reading that speak to its unity? I’d love to hear from you!
In closing, there’s one more kind of doppelgänger to whom I’d like to draw your attention. It’s you. The Apostle Paul described the believers in Corinth as “letters,” “known and read by all,” “a letter of Christ,” “not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.” (2 Corinthians 3:3) If you know the Lord, God’s will for you in sum is to be conformed into the image of Jesus. (Romans 8:29)
We should all be striving to be Jesus’ spiritual doppelgängers.
The musical group Imperials put it this way in a song: “You’re the only Jesus some will ever see/And you’re the only words of life/some will ever read/So let them see in you/the One in whom/is all they’ll ever need/’Cause you’re the only Jesus/some will ever see.” (Listen here.) Kirk Franklin also took a crack at the same point if you prefer an alternate musical perspective. (Listen here.)
You may never be mistaken for Mark Hamill like I was or for some other famous person. It would be the highest honor, though, for someone(s) to see Jesus in you and in me.