Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The courage of Christ

Some men find Christianity a big turnoff because the only Jesus they've been exposed to is a sissy Jesus, hippie Jesus, effeminate Jesus, pacifist Jesus. Jesus meek and mild. Godspell. Jesus Christ Superstar. Jeff Hunter. The Sallman Head. The dainty Jesus:

Jesus is tenderly calling you home—
Calling today, calling today,
Why from the sunshine of love will you roam
Farther and farther away?

Let's compare this to the Jesus of the Gospels. He came to die. To give his life for others. That's a classic military virtue. Like throwing yourself on a grenade to shield your comrades. 

In addition, he voluntarily suffered death by torture. Not just crucifixion, but the flogging that preceded crucifixion. Plus the raging thirst. Having the hot sun on his back, torn to ribbons by flogging. Having his flayed back right against the rough-hew beam of the cross. And the crown of thorns. All that before you get to the crucifixion proper, which was cruel by design. 

Not only did he submit to this voluntarily, but he foreknew that fateful day awaited him. From the time he was old enough to be cognizant of such things, he knew that lay in his future. He knew exactly what to expect. 

What would it be like to go through life knowing in advance that that's what lay ahead? That's what he would have to go through. Not something to look forward to, but something to dread. Casting a backward shadow over your life. That's very courageous.

Christian readers are sometimes perturbed by the fact that Jesus seems to be scared in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus wasn't fearless, but courageous. Bravery isn't fearlessness, but overriding fear. Doing what needs to be done in spite of fear and trepidation. Even Jesus could be afraid. Yet he persevered. 

Moreover, Jesus had the power at any moment to opt out. Had the power to escape scourging. Had the power to escape crucifixion. Yet he endured it.

He had the power to make himself immune to pain. Immune to thirst. Yet he persevered.

Furthermore, Jesus often had to go it alone. His mother didn't understand him. His stepbrothers didn't understand him. His disciples didn't understand him. He was very isolated. Yet he persevered. 

And many of the very people he died for hated him. Only later did they come to faith. It's one thing to die for people who love you–quite another to die for people who hate you. 

Jesus exhibits heroic physical and psychological grit in the face of unbearable pain and loneliness, for the benefit of others.

1 comment:

  1. I recall reading that one of the themes in Luke was Christ's courage in the face of death