Matthew 26:59-60a - Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put Him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward.
Zorro and the Lone Ranger used the idea of a mistaken identity in their shows.
In a TV program, mistaken identity can be amusing -- not so much so in real life. For example, look at Byron Halsey. In 1985, Byron Halsey was convicted of killing two children. Although he escaped the death sentence, Halsey was given two life sentences, plus 20 years. It took 19 years before DNA testing proved Byron Halsey was innocent and pointed to another person as the guilty one.
In Louisiana, Ryan Matthews was on death row for five years. Convicted of the murder of a Bridge City grocer, Ryan Matthews was condemned to die by lethal injection. That all changed when DNA left on a ski mask by the real criminal showed Matthews to be innocent and another man to be guilty.
Mistaken identity. As I look through Scripture, I find numerous cases of mistaken identity.
Right in the first chapters of Genesis the Lord tells of a case of mistaken identity when Adam and Eve believed Satan was their friend as he spoke to them through a serpent. They were wrong. When God sent prophets to warn His wayward children that their disobedience was going to result in punishment, the people laughed at and ignored the Lord's ambassadors. It was a dangerous thing to do.
Mistaken identity. If you ever really want to see a case of mistaken identity, you need to take a look at the life of Jesus.
His story, told in the Gospels, shows Jesus almost always was the victim of mistaken identity. Thinking Jesus would be an earthly king, the magi showed up at Herod's palace. That was mistaken identity.
During Jesus' ministry He did, and said, many wonderful things, but people were mistaken if they thought the Savior's primary work was as a healer or a teacher, nor had He been sent into this world to be a political leader, a great general -- an individual who would throw off Roman oppression and restore the Jewish nation.
Of course, the worst examples of attributing a wrongful identity to the Christ were carried out by those groups who hated Him the most. With increasing ferocity, they called the Redeemer all kinds of terrible names. To some He was a liar; to others a Samaritan, and to yet another group, He was labeled a devil.
Scripture peels away all these mistaken identities and informs us: Jesus was the Son of God, not the son of Joseph. Jesus was the Savior of the world, not a magician who put on spectacles to a paying crowd at the ancient world's version of a Las Vegas stage.
Mistaken identity. The Man from Nazareth, while trained as a carpenter, was the Son of God who never forgot He had to be about His Heavenly Father's business.
Mistaken identity. People just didn't seem like they could figure Jesus out. I can understand why. After all, how many times have any of us met someone who can still a storm, feed thousands with a few loaves and fish? How many times have we encountered someone who could cure the blind, the lame, the cripple, and the handicapped. None of us have ever encountered Someone who could wake the dead from the sleep, carry the sins of humanity, keep God's Laws perfectly, and rise from the dead to show all who believe on Him are saved. Nope, there should be no mistaken identity when it comes to Jesus. He is God's Son, our victorious Savior.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, every generation people try to change the Savior and minimize His work. May we always see Him as the Savior, the Redeemer, our Lord. In His Name we pray. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including two from the Innocence Project. Those who wish to reference those articles may do so at the following links, which were fully functional at the time this devotion was written: https://www.innocenceproject.org/cases/byron-halsey/ and https://www.innocenceproject.org/cases/ryan-matthews/
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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