Often in conversations the topic “Who was the greatest?” crops up. Who is the greatest hockey player? (Gordie Howe). Who is the greatest hockey goalie? (Terry Sawchuk) Who is the greatest actor (Meryl Streep) etc.
This week a new question arose. Who is the Old Testament character who is most like Christ?
One nominee is Moses. He was instrumental in the deliverance of his people. He taught them a new way of living. He interceded with God on behalf of his people. He had an intimate relationship with God. He too, had a miraculous birth story. On the flip side he had a temper that caused him to: murder, shatter tablets, and strike a rock he was told to speak to.
Another nominee might be Joseph, who bore injustice and remained faithful. He became the instrument for saving the people of Israel. He is the very picture of mercy and forgiveness in the face of egregious treatment at the hands of those he loved. In all things he resisted the worship of Mammon and stayed true to God. Adversity made him better rather than bitter.
King David might be another. He is described as the “apple of God’s eye”. His kingdom is looked upon as the Golden Age for the nation of Israel. He is a worshipper who points others to God. He is a conquering warrior. In so many ways he demonstrates a heart for God but at the same time he demonstrates so many flaws that he better represents you and me than he does Christ.
My nominee though is perhaps a little ‘off the board’. I suggest that Hosea is likely the most Christ-like of all the Old testament characters. In obedience to God Hosea sets his affections on an unworthy object. Gomer is a faithless idolatrous and adulterous woman. Hosea commits himself unconditionally to her. Time and again she turns from the purity of his love for her to the pursuit of trinkets and short-term pleasures. Finally, when she has hit ‘rock bottom’ and carnal pleasures have faded and failed, Hosea, at great personal expense buys her back. He literally redeems her! She has done nothing to earn or deserve this. It seems to me that it is in offering unconditional love that Hosea is most Christ-like.
This is a reminder to us as Christians (people who are called to be like Jesus) that we are most like him when we actively love the unlovely. The love of Christ ought to constrain us to love in kind with a Saviour, who lavishes that love on unworthy recipients like you and like me. Like Hosea I want to be obedient to God in loving and not letting love be contingent on reciprocation.