When you picture Jesus in your mind, what does he look like? Is it possible that many of the presuppositions that you have of what Jesus looked like, and consequently then, what Jesus was like, could be wrong? If you have in your mind an image of Jesus as this 135 lb, sexually ambiguous, long-haired white guy, it’s probably time to embrace a new image of your Lord. THAT is not my Jesus.
Someone paid me a nice complement last week saying, “I really enjoyed your post this week, the one about feelings.” While I definitely appreciated the kind words, there was just a little part of me that momentarily panicked at what I’d perhaps become. Maybe, over time, I was getting soft. Maybe I’d become like much of mainstream American Christianity in turning Christian faith into a feelfest led by an
“Oprah Jesus”. Again, that’s not my Jesus.
While, as I stated last week, I occasionally get concerned about the potential disregarding of human emotion that may go on in churches, I also get equally frustrated by the disgusting emasculation of Jesus that’s gone on in many churches.
Phrases like “don’t judge” and “compassion” and “tolerance” and “meekness” and “love” and “never a harsh word” are so often ripped out of context from Scripture and misrepresented as universal Christian axioms that the Christian world today often fails to understand what we are standing for and fighting against. Christians are ill-prepared for spiritual warfare because they’re too busy trying to make peace with Satan’s planet. And Jesus has been turned from one tough hombre into the kid on the playground that just wants everyone to get along and hold hands. Note Matthew 10:34: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Modern Christianity has constructed this image of Jesus as one who would never go to war, never get angry, never condemn, never argue, never label anything as “sin” or expect his followers to overcome sin. The final product is that many churches primarily (and almost exclusively) teach Jesus as our beautiful example, because there is no point in talking about him as our Savior or encouraging repentance if we’ve eliminated the concept of sin.
But this can’t be Jesus! The Bible indicates that. Common sense indicates that. If Jesus was that incredibly tolerant of everything and everyone and every belief and practice, do you honestly think that he would have been crucified like a hardened criminal?! Clearly he stood for something that ticked people off. Clearly he was “intolerant” of what others were doing or believing. People who don’t make waves don’t get crucified. Jesus would not put up with (i.e. “tolerate”) the spiritual garbage that he saw going on in his day and he died for that.
So what was he really like? Jesus was a construction-working tradesman (carpenter) that grew up in the 1st century AD. I can’t imagine him not having some muscles and brawn about him. He knew his way around the workshop and never would have been mistaken for anything but manly.
Likewise, Jesus is typically depicted in paintings as having long flowing locks. Not likely. It simply wasn’t that common at the time. Notice the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthian church: “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Cor 11:14-15) Paul is indicating that long hair on men was not the cultural norm. And if you look at the busts of famous characters from that period in the Roman Empire, you’ll notice Augustus, Pompey, Herod, Julius Caesar, etc. all have short hair. And it wasn’t particularly common for a Jewish man to wear his hair long either (it was actually forbidden for the priests, who set the example for the people, cf. Ezekiel 44:20). The Jewish Talmud indicates that most Jewish men had the “Caesar cut” unless they were under a Nazirite vow, which Jesus clearly was not. Christ drank wine (Matt. 11:19) and, on occasion, touched a dead body (Matt. 9:25), something a man under the Nazirite vow would not have done. I’m certainly not saying it’d be wrong for a man to have long hair today. It’s not culturally seen as something exclusive to women today. But at that time, it was perceived as something associated with women, so it probably wasn’t Jesus’ style.
It wasn’t just his look though, more than anything it was Jesus’ courageous words backed up by his actions that show him as a man’s man. Don’t forget the account of Christ’s righteous anger and intolerance when he threw the money changers out of the temple courtyard during Holy Week (Matt. 21). Now we’re not told how many money changers there were, but it was a large area packed with people, so we’d assume numerous booths were there. A wimp likely wouldn’t have had the physicality or assertiveness necessary for such a task.
Or what about the time that an angry mob brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus and wanted to stone her (John 8). You can sense the bloodthirsty excitement in the people who are more concerned about pitting Jesus’ words against the Jewish Law of Moses and getting him to slip up than they are about this woman’s life and spiritual welfare. Jesus would not be bullied though. He’s too brave for that. He’s too strong.
Or what about the time when Jesus steps on our notions of “political correctness” by referring to the political and religious leaders of his day as “hell-bound serpents” – “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” (Matt. 23:33)
Or, finally, what about his time spent in unjust trial, merciless persecution, and mocked crucifixion. Can you fathom how much resolve and mental toughness it would take to know that you had plenty of strength to squash these idiotic Jewish leaders and meat-head Roman soldiers…………..and yet NOT do it?! THAT is my Jesus.
Make no mistake. Jesus is kind, and loving, and compassionate, and forgiving, and understanding, etc. But he is also the toughest individual I’ve ever met. His threshold for pain was greater than any UFC fighter. He’s endured more than I could think to withstand. He’s accomplished more than any man who’s lived. Everything he did was courageous and respectable. Jesus was the ultimate man’s man. This is the man whom we join to worship. This is the man who saved our lives. This is the man who will come again to judge the world. And this is the man who militantly guards us until that day. THIS is my Jesus.