Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Strength of Jesus

This is a post written April 15, 06 that I feel would be good to reprint during the Christmas season. It has to do with how we view Jesus compared to what the scriptures say about his character.

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.

The following are quotes of interest from comments made the last time this was published:

"You are so right. One reason why I have a hard time in RS, is because of what happened when I turned 18. One of my first RS lessons I went to in my homeward was this very discussion. I mentioned that meekness is not to be equated with weakness, and that he was a very strong individual, he just knew what battles to fight, what was really important, he was no pushover. It is the same thing in today's society, thinking that the opposite of war is peace, when in reality we have to be able to fight for freedom and peace, to do anything more is to give way to those that would take our freedoms from us."
-- Tigersue

"It is a fact that Jesus is not weak physically...Although most medieval art depicts otherwise.Seriously though imagine all the beatings and the eventual suffering at Calvary...remembing that his body was mortal at that time . . .

. . . Many people are shocked when they think of Christ using perhaps a synonym for quite literally "Damn you Pharisees!" as "Wo! Ye scribes..." Just to not shock everyone too much, it is important to note that Christ is the ONLY person who actually has the authority to say this word in this sense (or true prophets speaking for him), since Judgment is given into his hands."
-- Anonymous

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An important aspect of the Savior to remember, and you make an interesting observation to point out that it is not one that is often written about.

Perhaps in our ongoing struggles to rise above the craes of the world and increase our own capacity to forgive, we rely more on Christ as an example I those areas...