I can remember preaching at a local prison and upon hearing my message on the glory of Christ one of the inmates remarked that it seemed as though I was talking about a different Jesus. It was as if this Jesus was stronger than the one he was familiar with. Regrettably this concept of a weak Jesus is not limited to a prison, but pervades much of the contemporary understanding of who Christ is and what he does.
This is not surprising as much of American theology comes not from the biblical presentation of Christ but rather from the historic drawings of a weak, casper milktoast, effeminate Jesus who is some sort of divine doormat; helplessly ignored and trampled upon. A contemporary example of an auxiliary to this is the satirical portrayal of evangelicals through the character Ned Flanders in The Simpsons.
Whether it is Hollywood, Catholic paintings, Feminist restructuring, weak pastors/leaders or whatever, the source of the undermining of Jesus’ power is opposed to Christ…one may rightly say it is anti-Christ. It is Satan’s job to be an adversary to the mission and agenda of Christ, by attacking his person and work. It is the church’s job to promote and defend his person and work as revealed in the Scriptures.
Instead of painting Jesus as a divine doormat who’s weakness is expressed in his inability to gain followers we should proclaim a powerful Jesus who arrests enemies and makes them his followers. How often do we hear of in the context of evangelism of Jesus knocking on your heart, hoping you’ll open the door…Can’t you can just see the Son of God biting his fingernails with anxiety over your impending decision. How can anyone pray or worship a god who is just like them?![…wait a minute…that is another post for another time– ;-D]
I don’t get the idea that Jesus was unable to get words in or to get his point across. He seems to have regularly had the floor during his public ministry and this ministry was in large part confrontational with the result being anger by some, conviction and amazement by others.
Consider the following scenes and consider his power, control and supremacy:
- He endures all of Satan’s demonic artillery in the form of temptation and then commands him to flee…which the devil obeys. (Matt. 4.1-11)
- He commands the wind and sea to be still…and it obeys. (Mk. 4.39)
- He casts out demons. (Matt. 8.24-34)
- He marches into the temple and turns over all of the tables while chasing out the religious hypocrites with a scourge of cords! (Jn. 2.12-21)
- His sermon sound bytes are propositional and end in exclamation points!! (Matt. 3.2; 4.17; 23.15; 23.33)
- He speaks and the galley of soldiers falls flat on their backs. (Jn. 18.5-6)
- He answers the most powerful men in the region with confidence and without flinching. (Jn. 18.20-23; 33-38)
- He suffers in prayer under the weight of divine wrath, even pleading with his Father in the shadow of Gethsemene. (Matt. 26.36-45)
- He marches to Calvary to give up his own life for satisfaction of divine wrath in the place of sinners. (Matt. 27.32-34).
- He was self-less upon the cross even crying out for others and pleading with a criminal.(Lk. 23.34; 42-43)
- He cared for his earthly mother while paying her eternal debt. (Jn. 19.26-27)
- He proclaimed with great power that the work was indeed finished. (Jn. 19.30)
- He gave up his own life. (Lk. 23.46)
- He raised himself from the dead. (Jn. 2.19; 10.17-18)
- He sits in heaven as the great High Priest for the saints, making intercession for them. (Heb. 7.25-28)
- His redemption is aggressively and mercifully applied through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit.(Heb. 2.16) (consider that this greek word translated help is also used in Acts 16.19 and translated “seized” and in Acts 18.17 it is translated “took hold of” in reference to the apprehension prior to Sosthenes’ public beating!)….The saving Sherriff arrests lawbreakers and applies divine grace (Jn. 6.44).
- He will come again in power to judge and destroy opposition, once and for all. (Rev. 20.11-15; 2 Thess. 1.7-10)
- He is described as one who’s tongue is like a “sharp two-edged sword and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Rev. 1.16).
- At the Second Coming, He will kill his opposition with his sword, which comes from his mouth (Rev. 19.21).
I love this Jesus! This is the Jesus who I can worship, who is powerful and good. It is him that is precious! (1 Pet. 2.7)
At the very least we who name the name of Jesus Christ must start by first having our minds informed and renewed by Scriptural Revelation rather than the inaccurate caricature that prevails in our culture. In so doing, we must also, as faithful stewards of Christ, proclaim this truth to a misinformed world and church that God might vindicate his honor and glorify his son through the accurate depiction of Jesus and if he is pleased, gracious application of his redemption to their lives.
Let’s pray to a powerful God who has a powerful Son who does powerful work in this world. After all, isn’t the “different-ness” of God (from you and I) one of his most appealing aspects?!!!
This is to be done without prideful condescension, but with Christ like tenderness and passion, maintaining a fidelity to the truth and the glory of God, knowing all the while that it is the grace of God that any (including sinners like you and me!) receive the biblical Jesus and are impressed with him. May God be pleased to impress many more hearts with the infinite glory and delight of knowing Jesus Christ.