Editor’s note: All men must read this guest post from Nick LaPrell. It will shed some light on why the Jesus of today irritates you. Admit it, he does. It is difficult to believe in a God that, in the back of your mind, you think you can beat up.
The Original Godly Gentleman
It does not surprise many to learn that more women go to church than men. According to a 2000 survey by the Barna group, 61% of church attendees are women, leaving 39% men. Some churches have attempted to address the issue by staging more church barbecues, after service football gatherings, sports teams, an other manly activities. Unfortunately, some have gone to the extent of endorsing (or at least allowing) drinking, smoking, and cursing.
Perhaps the root of the problem isn’t that men cannot relate to church, but that they cannot relate to an entirely emasculated Jesus. We hear about how Jesus calls us to “turn the other cheek,” (Matthew 5:39) or how Peter was rebuked for taking a guard’s ear off (John 18:10). We see pictures of a thin pale long blond haired Jesus glowing with his hand stretched out, looking to the heavens. Lets face it, men are getting the message that the Son of God is a small, quiet, passive doormat and they are called to be like Him.
The Appearance of Jesus
Most know that Jesus’ trade was a carpenter (Mark 6:3), but in his time carpentry was not all about building chairs and furniture. In fact, carpentry involved building houses (usually out of heavy stone). Take your frail image of Jesus and add about 80 pounds of muscle. He would have needed that to accomplish this skill. Also add some heavily calloused hands that spent over a decade handling heavy materials.
In Jesus’ time and region, you would not find blond haired blue eyed pale Jews. Take that image and darken it to around what you expect to see in the Middle East today. His eyes were also most likely brown, and His hair would be dark in color. It was also culturally unacceptable to have long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14), so shorten His hair up to something above shoulder length.
Isaiah 53:2 tells us that He has no beauty that we should desire Him. He was average looking, so take that image and rustle up His hair a bit. He probably bathed as often (not very) as anyone else, and contrary to the movies today, it is doubtful that His tunic maintained an almost glowing white color. Lets go with dingy. We might also want to consider the physical aspects of Jesus’ death. He was whipped and beaten beyond recognition, nailed to a cross, and jabbed with a spear. That is going to leave a mark that will put any bragging Hell’s Angel to shame. Revelation 19:11-16 gives us a description of Jesus when He returns to pour His wrath out on a corrupt world:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
He is described as having tattoos! A name that only He knows and the phrase “King of kings and Lord of lord’s” on His leg.
Now we have a more historically accurate depiction of Jesus. He is strong, dark, dirty, rugged, scarred, tattooed, and Jewish/Middle Eastern looking.
A Passive Jesus?
One of the most grossly misrepresented verses has Jesus instructing his disciples that if they are slapped in the face, they are to turn (offer up) the other cheek:
But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
– Matthew 5:39
This has been perverted into pacifist ideology today where we are to believe that we are not to stand up for ourselves when we are hurt or threatened. The context of the verse is actually quite different. In the culture at the time, slapping someone was to insult their honor. If you were slapped, you could have the courts fine the person. Jesus called us not to retaliate for the sake of our honor. In modern times, the verse might read, “If someone flips you the bird, don’t return the gesture. Just go about your business.”
According to John 18:10-11, when the guards came for Jesus, Peter responded by drawing his sword and cutting of a guard’s ear (we can probably assume Peter was aiming for his head). Jesus rebuked Peter. We might get the idea that Jesus was rebuking Peter for responding in violence, but the reason Peter was rebuked was because Jesus spent the past several days trying to explain to Peter that He was going to be captured, beaten, and killed, and this was all part of God’s plan. Peter was rebuked for going against God’s plan, not for attacking a man he knew was going to harm Jesus.
Jesus certainly does not condone violence as a solution when there are other options, but He does expect us to stand up for ourselves. When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure, he instructed them to bring supplies, including a sword. In fact, they were to sell their clothes to purchase a sword if they could not afford one:
Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
– Luke 22:36
The Presence of Jesus
Jesus has a presence like no other. He had to speak loud enough for a crowd of thousands to hear Him without a microphone. He spoke with a confidence possible only by someone who knows 100% that they are backed by the Creator of the universe.
When Jesus saw the crooked money changers outside the temple perverting God’s law, He didn’t “turn the other cheek.” He roughed up the merchants with a whip and tossed their tables (John 2:15). When a disciple stepped out of line, Jesus didn’t “agree to disagree,” He lovingly, yet firmly rebuked them. (“Get behind me Satan! – Matthew 16:23)
No, Jesus was not the quiet guy in the back of the room nobody noticed. He stood for the truth and offended most people in the process. He will pour out the wrath of God on a world that will become more corrupt than ever before. Revelation describes Jesus coming on the scene riding on a horse with fire in His eyes. Politicians come to a resolution by compromising their own goals until an agreement is made. Jesus will not compromise the Word of God. He will utterly destroy any who oppose when that day comes.
Perhaps if us men know more about who Jesus was we would want to be less “like Mike” and more like Him. I will strive to be like Jesus in ways that don’t often end up printed on a t-shirt.
• I will develop a skill at which I can excel. (Jesus was a carpenter)
• I will keep my body strong. (Jesus walked everywhere He went)
• I will refuse to compromise the truth, all the way to death.
• I will be confident that while I am doing the work of God, He will have my back.
• I will lead people around me to the truth.
• I will protect my family by any means necessary.
I think that if more men knew that this is what it is like to strive to be like Jesus, maybe there would be more men in church. Then again, maybe they are too afraid to be the kind of man that Jesus is. After all, Jesus is the first and the last Godly Gentleman.