Pictures of Jesus.
There are so many, aren't there?
I don't know about you, but I've seen a bunch. Some pictures make Him look way too attractive, in my opinion, for someone the Bible tells us "…had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." Other pictures make Him look weak and frail, like He needed a good tan and some weight training.
I don't know if any of them come close to the way He actually looked.
All I know is that my impression was always that Jesus was meek and mild.
And not necessarily in a good way.
The word that always came to my mind was – dare I say it – WIMP.
So, yeah, I always knew Jesus was my friend. But I wasn't sure that He was the guy I wanted on my side in the playground of life.
Sure, if I got knocked down He'd be there to pick me up. But then He'd tell me, "Turn the other cheek" – and walk slowly away from the bullies.
Or He'd tell me to "Love your enemies" – when what I really wanted was someone who'd squish my enemies like bugs.
So yes, I learned that Jesus was sweet, gentle, and kind.
And I appreciated those qualities. But, I secretly wanted something else, something more.
I wanted a Savior who was strong.
Tough, powerful…maybe even a little scary.
Let me tell you something.
I finally met this Jesus when I read through the New Testament!
The first time I did that, I tried to insert myself into the Gospels. I tried to picture myself right there beside Jesus and the disciples. I tried to use my senses to engage the moment – the sights and sounds, the smells.
I tried to imagine Jesus' tone of voice as He spoke.
Sometimes the Bible translates His speaking by using the words – told, said, answered…
But I wonder sometimes.
Scripture tells us WHAT He said, but I wonder – HOW did He say it?
Did He whisper or shout, did He speak with anger or with sympathy, did He smirk or smile or laugh, did He speak with a twinkle in His eye or a scornful frown?
What was His tone, what was His facial expression, what exactly was He conveying?
These things captivate me!
As I perused those cherished *words in red*, a new picture of Jesus began to emerge.
Sometimes He was angry, sarcastic, condescending. Sometimes He was patient, sympathetic, caring. Sometimes He spoke quietly, and sometimes He spoke harshly.
Jesus was a multi-faceted person – a PERSON just like you and me.
And upon my reading it became very clear to me that Jesus was not a wimp.
The words that began to form in my mind were these: intelligent, clever, cagey, articulate, combative, confrontational, bold, confident, audacious, daring.
Jesus used His words like weapons when needed. And He used them wisely and incisively.
He chose His words intentionally – and they were keen, perceptive, insightful, penetrating.
Let me relate one example.
This past week I've been working on my taxes. Ugh.
And I got to thinking about a particular encounter between Jesus and some spies. Jesus' enemies were always on the lookout for an opportunity to "trap" Him.
This situation was no different.
First of all, they approach Jesus with false flattery and smarmy groveling:
"Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God." (Luke 20:21, ESV)
OK, so they're hoping to *butter up* Jesus by using a flattering title and complimentary words. They're trying to manipulate Him, trying to steer Him to an openness and freedom of conversation with them so they can then ensnare Him.
(As if Jesus is going to fall for this…)
"Is it lawful for us to give tribute [taxes] to Caesar, or not?"
(Luke 20:22, ESV)
(The trap is laid…)
And then, there is this – the part that I just love:
"But he perceived their craftiness…" (Luke 20:23, ESV)
Other translations use these words: duplicity, trickery, deceit, cunning, guile, scheme.
Jesus KNEW their hearts, knew what they were plotting, and pointedly addressed their intent:
"Why tempt ye me?" (Luke 20:23, KJV)
OK, so here is one of those times when I try to imagine how Jesus said this. Did He glare at them with squinty eyes and say this quietly under His breath so only they could hear? Did His words drip with barely-contained wrath? Or did He say it loudly so that their plot was exposed to everyone within hearing distance?
And how did they react?
Did they jump back in surprise and fear – even just for a moment?
Then Jesus answers their question:
"Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?"
They said, "Caesar's."
He said to them:
"Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Luke 20:24-25, ESV)
Do you see how clever this reply was?
Jesus was smart, and He was also wise.
And He used His words perfectly.
I have a vision of Him saying this loudly to the crowd, and then turning back around to the spies and looking them full in the face as if to say:
"Aha! You have your answer, and yet, you have not trapped Me!"
I think Jesus might have smirked in triumph…just a little.
Finally, my favorite part:
"And they were not able...to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent." (Luke 20:26, ESV)
Other translations say they were: surprised, astonished, amazed, stunned.
But the part that I like the very best?
THEY. BECAME. SILENT.
Shut up, speechless, thunderstruck, bowled over, flabbergasted.
You know, I'm kinda re-thinking that whole scene that I mentioned earlier – the encounter on the playground of life.
Perhaps Jesus doesn't walk away from the bullies. Perhaps He just uses His words, His Word, and they are silenced.
And that, my friends, is not meek and mild. It is not weak or wimpy.
It is strong, tough, powerful…and yes, maybe even a little scary.
In a good way.
As we ready ourselves for Easter this year, I would encourage you to read those beloved *words in red* in your Bible.
Let them speak to you anew.
Contemplate and ponder –
How might Jesus have said them?
What was His tone of voice and His intent? What were His facial expressions? Did He say them with sarcasm or pity or impatience or kindness? Were they spoken quietly or loudly?
Put yourself there.
And look at Jesus.
The REAL Jesus.
The Jesus who will one day squish our enemies like bugs. Who will confront those bullies with more than words. Who will vanquish the foes, win the victory, and reign like a champion, a conqueror, a King.
This Jesus, who died for us.
Paid the price.
So we would never, ever again have to cower in fear.
For He defeated the greatest weapon of our greatest enemy.
He overcame death, and overpowered Satan.
And uttered these triumphant words:
"It is finished!"
"Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!' And having said this he breathed his last."
(John 19:30 & Luke 23:46, ESV)
Jesus is not a wimp.
Not a coward, not a pushover, not a featherweight, not a fool.
He is the strongest man that ever lived.
And He is, indeed, my Friend.
How about you?!
He's got the whole world
in His hands.
(The actual words of Jesus Himself are italicized):
"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25, NASB)
"Then the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?' Jesus said, 'I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God's right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.'"
(Mark 14:61-62, NLT)
"'But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.'" (Mark 13:24-27, ESV)
"In that day the heir to David's throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place." (Isaiah 11:10, NLT)
"Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David's throne, has won the victory." (Revelation 5:5, NLT)
"'To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.'" (Revelation 3:21, NIV)
"Jesus replied, 'I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones...And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.'"
(Matthew 19:28-29, NLT)
"'Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.'" (Revelation 22:12, NIV)
"'I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.'" (John 16:33, NLT)
What do you think about Jesus?
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