Jesus and "Real Men"

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by Arnie Cole, goTandem

We often choose names for our businesses or ministries to honor someone or to symbolize an ideal.  Naming your business or ministry after yourself shows that you are confident and invested. Including words such as “reliable” or “affordable” conveys how the customer will benefit from doing business with you. I’ve noticed that the names of men’s ministries also tend to be aspirational, implying strength, nobility and masculinity – qualities that many of us want to achieve.

Recently I read a dissertation that explored why men in the Caribbean are reluctant to attend church. The author argued, quite convincingly, that the traditional portrayal of Jesus as a blue eyed, fair skinned man with a gentle spirit contrasts too sharply with that culture’s masculine ideal.

That leads me to wonder whether we fully appreciate who Jesus was and instead just limit ourselves to a few well-worn notions. We picture Jesus in a pure white flowing robe standing next to an empty tomb. Yet, this same Jesus was beaten, bloodied and endured hours dying on a wooden cross.

Among Isaiah’s vision of the Christ are as victor over sin and death. In Isaiah 63:1 he’s described as marching in great strength, in bloodied robes, and with the power to save. He has trampled his foes and avenged his people (verses 3-4).

How do we reconcile these two different images of who Jesus is? The key I believe is motivation. Consider Isaiah 63:5:

I was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm, and my wrath sustained me.

Jesus was defending the defenseless. His strength and power were used to save those who could not, in their own power, save themselves.

As men, we need to remember that while we may choose to focus more on Christ’s sacrificial love, he is also a mighty Savior. He and he alone was able to achieve complete victory over sin and death. Similarly, he calls us to become more like him in both regards – displaying love and gentleness to the poor, the weak and the oppressed. At the same time, we are called to protect and stand up for the poor, the weak and the oppressed.

Alexander McLaren, one of the great Scottish preachers of the early 20th century, provided a rich description of Christ’s strength in his commentary:

In Him was all strength of manhood-inflexible, iron will, unchanging purpose, strength from consecration, strength from righteousness. In Him was the heroism of prophets and martyrs in supreme degree.

In Him was the strength of indwelling Divinity. He fought and conquered all man’s enemies, routed sin, and triumphed over Death.

In the Cross we see divine power in operation in its noblest form, in its intensest energy, in its widest sweep, in its most magnificent result. He is able to save, to save all, to save any.

He is mighty to save, and is able to save unto the uttermost, because He lives forever, and His power is eternal as Himself.

Just as we can experience Christ’s love today, we can also tap into his power. We must remember that he has called each of us by name to become more and more like him each day by both our displays of love and in our role as protectors.

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