Many people picture Jesus Christ as sitting with lambs and doting over children. His message is filled with ideas about love and acceptance of strangers. These are not bad ideas and do represent the core of his teachings. Yet, there is part of Jesus that is often overlooked in today's "free love" and "politically correct" society. He was a tough guy who wasn't afraid to speak his mind or face danger.
Not much is known about his first thirty years. What is known is that he lived a hard life filled with much hard labor. The modern English says he was a carpenter. This means he would have worked with heavy materials without the help of mechanical tools. Some question the original Greek word used for the word "carpenter" and believe he was more like a general laborer. That still doesn't take away from the fact he would have lived a hard life. Physically he wouldn't be the thin waif often pictured in artwork through the centuries.
He could also be fearless and brash. Walking on water is used to express the idea of doing the impossible. Yet, an even greater miracle is the calming of the stormy sea during a fishing trip. The manly apostles worried that the ship was going to be swallowed up by the waves. Jesus, on the other hand, stood up to nature's rage. The waters and winds became calm and they were able to safely return to land.
Love might be his principle characteristic, but he could be mean when he felt justified. His mission was almost exclusively to the Jews, and he made that clear. One time he basically called the Gentiles "dogs" who were not worthy of his attention. A woman acknowledged the humble position of her Greek heritage in the scheme of Covenant history and begged mercy. Jesus took pity on the woman and healed one of her relatives from a distance. The lesson was to be tough, but be prepared to show compassion to those who are not offended by what you see as your mission in life. On the other hand, he showed no compassion for a small fig tree that didn't bear fruit. It was shrivled to nothing. Some, who see Jesus as simply a harmless kitten, believe this is uncharacteristic of Jesus and probably didn't happen. Yet, the lesson was clear. Israel of that generation as the fig tree was ready to be destroyed. Not a very nice and loving idea.
Among the strongest pictures of Jesus was his last days on Earth as a mortal. This was best portrayed in the movie "Passion of the Christ," even if it went beyond what it probably was like. Still, with even half of that as true it would have been nearly unbearable. He was tortured, mocked, and eventually nailed to a cross and hardly spoke. The two times he came off as "wimpy" was asking his Father for a different way and crying to his Father that he was abandoned. Yet, he let go of his doubts and finished the greatest sacrifice of time and eternity.
The sacrifice of the Atonment allowed Jesus the Christ to overcame Death and Hell; no tasks for the faint of heart. John's vision of the Heavely Jesus was hardly the feminine flower of a smiling man (Revelation 19:11-16):
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
It might be hard to know what to do with such a picture in our day when peace, love, and acceptance are the only aspects of Jesus most people consider. What can be learned is that strength, courage, and boldness are as important as compassion and charity. At times they go hand in hand when faced with the cruelty and evil of the World around us. Lets remember the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ as a moment of strength and courage and not fear or weakness. Too often we act like our faith is more like a shrinking violet than a tall redwood.