"Who Is Jesus?" part 11
Macho, Macho Man
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 20, 2010

I learned a new word this week: Vuvuzela. If you asked me last Sunday what a Vuvuzela was, I would have had no idea. But now I do. Who here knows what a Vuvuzela is?

If you’ve watched any of the World Cup, it’s what all the fans are playing in the stands. And it basically sounds like you’re about to be attacked by a swarm of bees. Here, listen…

[VIDEO – Vuvuzela]

I’ve heard a lot of complaining about these Vuvuzelas and how annoying they are. They’re drowning out everything else on TV, people are turning off the games because they can’t stand the racket, and even the players have started to complain about being distracted by them.

I’m not sure how much it’s affecting you, though. Because really, I don’t know of anyone who is ever glued to their TV set watching soccer. Oh, I’m sure some people are. Maybe you are, and I just don’t know it.

But generally, soccer just isn’t a popular spectator sport here in North America. It’s popular to play… more Canadian kids play soccer than any other sport including hockey… but we don’t watch it. Why is that?

Well, I have not done an exhaustive survey on the issue. But there are two complaints that I hear more than any other, and they have nothing to do with Vuvuzelas.

The first complaint is that there’s not enough scoring. You can play 90 minutes and finish the game with a scoreless tie.

And the second complaint is that there’s too much diving. I heard a radio show this week where one of the hosts commented that there’s more diving in soccer than in hockey, and the other host responded that there’s more diving in soccer than in diving.

And we don’t like people who take dives, do we? We thin they’re wimps or sissies. We prefer sports like… what? Hockey! And yes, hockey has its share of divers, too. But they’re scorned. They’re not accepted. It’s a mark of shame to be labeled a diver. Because we like our athletes tough. We love stories like how Bobby Baun played two games in the 1964 Stanley Cup finals on a broken ankle, actually scoring the overtime winner in one of the games. Or how Steve Yzerman carried his team on a bad knee to the Stanley Cup championship in 2002.

Or if you want to go to basketball, we love how Steve Nash took a Tim Duncan elbow to his eye, making his eye swell up so he couldn’t even see, But he still played that game, finishing with 20 points and 9 assists. And we point to him and say, “Now there’s a real Canadian.”

No, we don’t have a lot of time for sissies, do we? But do you realize that’s exactly how a lot of people view Jesus? They think He’s a sissy… a wimp… a wuss… however you want to put it. They picture Him as just some pansy who loved kids, cried a lot, and talked about His feelings.

And I think we picture Jesus that way because that’s the way we’ve described Him in churches. We tend to focus on His compassion… His love… His care for everyone. Basically, we emphasize His softer side. And Jesus certainly did have those qualities. But Jesus also had a tougher side, and we tend to neglect that side.

Here… look at some of the classic images we have of Jesus…

[PowerPoint – images of Jesus with children, holding a lamb, soft and serene…]

Okay, I’m going to give you a quote. And this is kind of a strange quote… it’s a quote of one person quoting someone else. But I couldn’t find the original quote, so this is what I’ve got…

“As Rosemary Haughton points out in her book ‘Tales from Eternity’, Jesus was a sissy. There’s no getting around it. He cried in public, He loved flowers, He liked to play with babies, and when people came up and said insulting things, He’d give gentle answers. Jesus was not your typical he-man. He was singularly lacking in ‘macho.’”
~ Ralph Milton

I don’t agree with that statement at all, and we’re going to talk about why. But isn’t that the way we often present Jesus? Isn’t that the image of Jesus so many of us have?

And here’s the thing… there was certainly a softer side of Jesus. And it’s important for us to remember that. His compassion was and is a great motivator for Him. He definitely cared for people. And yes, He was known to cry on occasion. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But there was a softer side and it’s perfectly valid for us to acknowledge that.

But we also need to recognize that there was a tougher side. I mean, think about it this way… who did Jesus hang around with? His disciples. And what was one of the primary occupations of those disciples? Well, a number of them were fishermen. Now, how many fishermen do you know that like to hang around sissies? They’re more likely to ridicule a sissy than to follow them and pledge their lives to them.

But Jesus appealed to these rough and tough fishermen to the point that they left their livelihood to follow Him and eventually gave their lives for Him.

Or how about this… Joseph, the father of Jesus, was a carpenter. Now, we don’t really know for sure that Jesus worked as a carpenter, but it was pretty common for a son to work alongside his father and learn that trade for himself. So most people seem to accept that Jesus worked as a carpenter until He started His earthly ministry at the age of 30.

Well, carpenters aren’t known for being weak. They aren’t typically considered to be pansies. They’re generally pretty strong, tough people.

Jesus talked about how He would go place to place, town to town, and often He had no place to stay for the night. So what would He do? He’d go camping! He was an outdoorsman. Hey, He even spent a demanding 40 days alone in the desert. Doesn’t sound very wimpish to me.

Plus, remember what Jesus endured for us. He was flogged to within an inch of His life with whips that had pieces of shrapnel… hunks of metal and glass… tied into it. He had a crown of thorns pressed into His head. After that He carried a heavy cross for a long distance until He literally collapsed. And then to top it off, He had spikes nailed through his wrists and His feet. He didn’t have to go through that. He could have put and end to it at any point. But He endured it because He knew His suffering and death was essential for us to be forgiven for our sinfulness. So He submitted Himself to the pain of the cross. That was not the action of a weak man.

By the way, did you know that the word excruciating literally means “out of the cross”? What Jesus went through was excruciating in every sense of the word.

So to reduce Jesus to just some flower-loving baby-kissing meek and mild wimp is such a disservice to Him. I’m not going to say He had a dark side because that’s not true, but He certainly had a tough side.

Back in 1993, Executives at Sears Headquarters in Chicago were facing a marketing challenge. You see, plenty of women were shopping at Sears for hardware and tools and plumbing fixtures, and that was fine, but the women were avoiding the women’s clothing department. Well, the marketing experts studied the matter, and they hammered out a marketing strategy. They developed a campaign called, “Come See The Softer Side Of Sears”. You remember that? In fact, they developed a two page magazine ad. One side of the ad showed a car battery and the other showed a woman wearing a very dramatic evening dress, and the headline quoted the woman as saying “I came in looking for a Die Hard, and left with something drop dead.” And they looked at what magazines they should advertise in and when to run their TV ads. In all, they spent over $40 million on this marketing campaign. And you know what? It worked. Sales of women’s apparel at Sears shot up dramatically.

Well, Sears had the problem of getting people to notice the softer side. But when it comes to Jesus, that’s the side we tend to focus on the most. So today, on this Father’s Day, I want you to “come see the tougher side of Jesus.”

Mark Driscoll is the pastor of a church in Houston, and he has described how this sissified view of Jesus has bled over into the leaders of churches and throughout the congregations.

“The problem with our churches today is that the lead pastor is some sissy boy who wears cardigan sweaters, has The Carpenters dialed in on his iPod, gets his hair cut at a salon instead of a barber shop, hasn’t been to an Ultimate Fighting match, works out on an elliptical machine instead of going to isolated regions of Russia like in Rocky IV in order to harvest lumber with his teeth, and generally swishes around like Jack from Three’s Company whenever Mr. Roper was around.”
~ Mark Driscoll
(Quoted on www.wittenburgdoor.com)

Okay, just for the record, I don’t own a cardigan. Anymore.

Seriously, one of the complaints that men in particular have with the Church today is that it’s set-up for women, it’s decorated for women, it uses terms that appeal to women… and men can have a hard time relating.

But listen… Don’t make the mistake of believing that being a Christ-follower is about being all lovey-dovey, sappy, and introspective. You don’t have to give up your manhood to attend church. Jesus was not a sissy, and if we’ve portrayed Him that way then we’ve been wrong.

I actually came across a blog someone had written about this view of Jesus being a sissy, and these are some of the comments I found below the blog…

“The Church needs Real Men who have the same compassion yet the same CONVICTION and DETERMINATION that Jesus and the Apostles did.”

“Sometimes the music at churches is hard for me to sing along with because it will simply repeat all these ‘nice’ verses and phrases about ‘feeling’ God and being touched by Him. I for one am more interested in being transformed than in being ‘touched’, and the music I am describing seems more interested in how I feel rather than Who God is.”

“God is more than a feel good God. He does show wrath, and vengeance, and stern love, a desire for sacrifice, and definitely a way of discipline… I think that men may need more of a view of that side of God than maybe the modern church gives them…. I just think that there is a need for the warrior and the ‘sissy.’”

And I agree with that. Not that Jesus is in any sense a “sissy”, but that He does have a soft side and a tough side, and that we need them both. We need to recognize both sides in Him, and as we grow in our faith and become more like Him I believe we need to allow both sides to develop in us.

You see, Jesus Himself was a complete person. He was in touch with His feminine side without compromising His masculine side. And He wants to help us become complete people, too. Yes, He wants us to learn to turn the other cheek, to build healthy relationships, to express love and compassion…  all that’s good. But He also wants to teach us to stand up against oppression, to defend the defenseless, to get angry when we should get angry… and so that’s the kind of thing we’re talking about this morning.

And what I want to do is give you four ways that Jesus calls us to become like Him, specifically in ways that show the softer side as well as the tougher side. Beginning with…

How Does Jesus Call Us to Be Like Him?

1.    He calls us to get angry at injustice, and not just turn the other cheek

How many of you used to watch The Incredible Hulk? The old one from the late 70s/early 80s starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno? Bill Bixby, of course played Dr. David Banner. If you want some trivia, in the comics, the name was Bruce Banner but they changed it to David Banner for the TV series, and one of the reason’s I’ve read about is because the producers didn’t think “Bruce” sounded manly enough. Which is ironlic, since Bruce Jenner had just won the Decathlon at the ‘76 Olympics in Montreal.

Anyway, do you remember the catchphrase from The Incredible Hulk? What did David Banner used to say?

“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
~ David (Bruce) Banner, in The Incredible Hulk

Well, Jesus could get angry, too. And you wouldn’t like Him when He was angry. At least, not when He was angry with you.

Jesus often got angry at the Pharisees… these religious experts of the day who should have been setting an example for all the other people on how to live pure and godly lives, but so often they got wrapped up in their own pride and arrogance and hunger for power… they were hypocrites, and were more concerned with their own social status than they were with the needs of the people.

So Jesus often exchanged verbal retorts with them. In Matthew 23, Jesus goes on a bit of a tirade against the Pharisees. And He says some pretty strong words, such as…

Matthew 23:25-26, 33 (NLT)
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. …
“Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?”

Doesn’t that sound like Jesus was angry? Jesus got mad at hypocrisy. But what was really scary was when Jesus got physical. Like when He walked into the temple, which was suppose to be this holy place reserved for prayer and worship, and what He discovered was a marketplace. There were all these tables set up with people selling things, the money changers were cheating people on the exchange rate, and so Jesus took action.

John 2:15-17 (NLT)
Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

Sounds to me like He was angry! Now, Jesus never lost control of His anger… He wasn’t ruled by His emotions… and He never sinned in expressing anger. But when it was appropriate for Him to become angry, especially over some injustice or a violation of God’s standards of living, He wasn’t afraid of showing that anger.

One other time we’re told that Jesus became angry was when His disciples were telling parents to keep their kids away from Jesus and to just leave Him alone.

Mark 10:13-14 (NLT)
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

And notice, Jesus never became angry when His own rights were violated. He became angry when other people were being trampled on. He became angry when He saw something that was against His Father’s will. It was never a selfish “I’ve got my rights” kind of anger.

25 years ago (1985), one of the pioneers of Christian rock music – Randy Stonehill – released a song called “Angry Young Men”. Here are a few of the lyrics…

Angry Young Men
Randy Stonehill

He wants some angry young men, ones who can't be bought
Ones who will not run from a fight
Ones who speak the truth whether it's popular or not
Ones who'd give up anything to walk in His light

He wants some angry young men who love the Lord they serve
Ones who'll do much more than make a speech
Ones who'll act their faith out with the passion it deserves
'Cause if we cannot live it, tell me, who are we to preach?

Rest assured when Jesus comes again
He'll be looking for some angry young men

2.    He calls us to be transformed, not just touched

You know, I love good worship music. I like to sing it, I like to listen to it, I like to get involved in it… I like watching other people just get absorbed in worship and raise their hands in praise and even get a little emotional. I think all of that is a wonderful part of worshipping God through song.

It’s nice when you feel “touched” by a good worship song, isn’t it? And I hope you do experience that kind of emotional connection from time to time. But I also hope you realize that worship is not that feeling of being touched. Just because you feel something doesn’t mean that you’re actually worshipping.

Worship is much more than just shedding a few tears. What worship really is, is surrendering yourself to God. It’s giving all of yourself to all of Him. It’s allowing Him full access to your life. It’s trusting Him and obeying Him and allowing Him to transform you from the inside out.

The real sign of worship is not whether you’ve had some emotional high. Especially because we all experience emotions differently. The true sign of worship is that God is able to work in your life and transform your character to become more like Him. Are you become more Christ-like? Are you becoming more Godly?

In the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God really scolds the Israelites for offering sacrifices to Him and for burning incense and for raising their hands in prayer and for getting all wrapped up in celebration, while at the same time living unrepentant, self-absorbed, hypocritical, Godless lives. And then, after railing against them for offering this meaningless albeit emotional “worship”, He tells them this:

Isaiah 1:16-18 (NLT)
“Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

What’s He talking about? He’s talking about being transformed. The Apostle Paul wrote about this same transformation in the New Testament when he wrote…

Galatians 6:15 (NLT)
It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.

Boy, Paul’s blunt, isn’t he? What’s he saying? He’s saying that it doesn’t matter if you go through all the motions of worship…” remember that all the Jewish men were required to be circumcised as an act of obedient worship… “It doesn’t matter if you perform all the religious rituals. It doesn’t matter if you get caught up in the emotion of it. It doesn’t even matter if you “feel” a sense of God’s presence. All of that’s nice, but what really counts is, ‘are you being transformed?’”

And in the book of Romans, Paul adds that this transformation actually changes your mindset, enables you to think God’s thoughts after Him, and compels you to action…

Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Which leads us right into number 3…

3.    He calls us to action, not just emotion

Since it is Father’s Day, can I be honest with you about most of us fathers? We don’t like to sit around and talk about our feelings.

I don’t know how you feel about that, but I know how I feel. But I’m not going to tell you because I don’t like to talk about my feelings.

No, we’d rather be doing something. Guys, have you ever noticed that your best friendships are formed while you’re doing things together? Going fishing, playing video games, working on building projects, whatever.

Women seem to have the capability to just get together for the sake of talking; but guys, we’re not wired like that, are we? Oh, I know I’m talking in stereotypes. But I also think there’s some truth to that. Well guys, there’s some good news. The Bible tells us that faith in God is not about just getting together in Bible Study groups and talking about our feelings… it’s about putting that faith into action.

James 2:14, 17, 24 (NLT)
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? … So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. … We are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

You see, your beliefs and your actions go together. They go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. You say you believe in Jesus and have faith in Him? Great. You say you even have a relationship with Him? Fine. But so what? How is it shown in your actions?

Deuteronomy 10:12 (NLT)
“…What does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.”

It’s not just about loving; it’s about serving. It’s about putting our faith into action.

Galatians 5:13 (NLT)
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

4.    He calls us to defend, not just empathize

When you hear about people who have suffered loss… when you hear about disasters that have decimated whole communities… when you hear about someone’s rights and even their dignity being trampled on… what kind of response does that prompt in you?

Do you feel it? Do you empathize with the people who are suffering? Do you feel bad for them? That’s nice, but can you take it further?

And yes, I know that we can’t hop on a plane every time something happens in this world. But maybe we could do it occasionally. When things happen here in Charlottetown and people are suffering, can’t we be there for them, defending them and protecting them and helping them out in tangible ways… more than just feeling for them?

James 1:27 (NLT)
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Not just feeling for them, but actually physically caring for them. A verse we looked at earlier from Isaiah says…

Isaiah 1:17 (NLT)
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

Now those are some manly terms, aren’t they? That’s a call to action.

All right. I think we had a little bit of fun today in dealing with this topic. But I also think that what we’ve talked about actually is important. I think we need to recognize that men and women are wired differently, and because of that we relate to Jesus differently.



Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2010 SunriseOnline.ca