"Jesus Was a Real Man,"

by Ronald Ginther

According to a survey just cited on NBC News, only 35% of American men attend church. Why? This has been discussed on Christian TV, and some churches and ministries have tackled the problem.

Church pews full of women but empty of men say something: the men do not relate to the kind of services and the kind of messages (or the way the messages are presented). Women do, men don't. How to fix this major disconnect between masculine men and the feminized church and feminized Christ?

Men do not relate to the whole gamut of the usual evangelical service in church--precisely because it is so female-oriented. They see themselves as aliens in a usual church environment, not able to project or act their real selves as men.

A completely false perception is promoted about Jesus Christ, and has been for centuries. He has been feminized and made ethereal to render him "Spiritual" and "other-worldly", so much so he is "no earthly good". We have all seen pictures, particularly from the Catholic and Renaissance tradition and art, that show Jesus as pale, thin to emaciation, spookish in his expressions as he gazes upward toward heaven, and brown or blonde haired (silky or wispy, to show off the delicate brushwork of the artist!), with even blue or light-colored eyes. His garment is the standard oriental robe and sandals--which no Westerner relates to--so he dresses oddly too, and his hair is usually shoulder length, which doesn't help. In every respect, this namby-pamby, wimpy Christ is nothing a usual man would recognize as a man and certainly not anything he would admire and want to emulate. That such a pathetic creature would die for him leaves him cold because he cannot relate to a Jesus portrayed like this. Perhaps the women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Age did, but that is no longer the case. Witness Europe's empty cathedrals and the thousands of abandoned churches turned into pubs in Scotland, Ireland, England, France and other once Christian countries--this vapid, anemic, limp-wristed Christ is no longer the center of worship, replaced by mainstream culture and its gods of affluence and entertainment and sports and film stars as well as by power, money, power, and violence.

Was Christ really like the pathetic loser that art of previous centuries made of him?

Hardly! He was burnt brown by the sun, his hair was black and possibly curley, he was black bearded, his eyes were black, and he had the jutting nose and bushy eyebrows of the average Jew of his time. He was muscular, more than the average too, since he was a mason (not a carpenter), which included working with wood and some carpentry, but was chiefly involved with stonework and construction. Doing this kind of work from boyhood to the time he took up his public ministry, from 12 or so to 30, he must have formed a construction man's vigorous physique. His arms bulged with muscles, and he could work 8 to 10 hous or more at a stretch in the heaviest kinds of labor.

He worked hard day after day, year after year, with only a scant breakfast and a scant lunch. He might have had a more substantial dinner, but it seldom included meat. It was a healthy diet based primarily on grains and fruits and vegetables, but it was not particularly abundant. For this reason, he probably did not have an ounce of fat on his body. He was not mean and lean, but his body was in perfect shape.

Thus, he could walk all over Israel, taking hundred mile journeys from Nazareth to Jersualem in stride. This journey now would be an arduous trek, even by modern roads, which he didn't know. Some Roman roads existed, but he had to go for hours without water or food on a burning hot, dusty road full of flies, flying dust, burrs, and even bandits. He trekked all over Galilee and Judaea, with even trips to southern Lebanon. This does not picture a wimpy, anemic, limp-wristed individual to my mind!

Now consider the suffering and trials and beatings and floggings and then the crucifixion. He was arrested, then kept from sleeping as he was imprisoned in Caiphas's dungeon (where I have been on a visit to Jerusalem), flogged at Caiphas's house, insulted and struck in the face at the house of Annas, the father-in-law of Chief Priest Capiphas, further deprived of food and water and rest, then tried by the Sanhedrin, then tried by Herod, then tried by Pilate--all without rest, food, and water--then flogged by Pilate and mistreated in every way by his soldiers--finally made to carry the cross beam of his cross to the Hill of Skull just outside Jerusalem. Scripture says he staggered and fell under the cross-beam, and then a man from Cyrenia (coastal port city in Libya, North Africa, which still exists) was made to carry the cross, as Jesus was so weakened by all this torture, sleep-deprivation, floggings and beatings, he has lost a quarter or more of his blood, it is estimated. A flogging of that time could kill a man--it was so severe. It laid bare the organs in the body, as the skin was ripped to shreds that hung in tatters over the muscles and skeletal frame. Jesus was flogged twice--he should not have survived these to even reach the cross. But he did. Only a magnificent physique could take so much abuse and torture and loss of blood and remain alive until the cross.

Jesus did not die on the cross, by the way. Scripture says he gave up his life--he resigned his spirit to his Father, his life was not taken from him by the Romans. They put him on the cross, nailed him there, but they had no power to take his life, and they did not take it. He himself declared this. He willingly "laid down" his life at the moment he chose. When He felt it was the right moment, he did so, and left his body. The other two on the crosses on either side of him did not die when he did. They had not been beaten and flogged twice and abused as Jesus had been--they were thus in full strength when they were nailed to their crosses. It required the soldiers breaking their legs with stone mallets to keep them from being able to pull up on the cross to breathe to kill them before the Passover. Jesus did not require this treatment, and He knew the scripture that none of his bones would be broken, prophesied of him in the Old Testament.

Jesus was a a real man, with more than ordinary stamina and physical development. He was hardened to enduring heat, hunger, long exposure to the elements, sleeping outdoors, the hardest kind of physical labor, and scant food for long periods of time.

No wonder men today do not relate to him--since he is still portrayed as less than he really was. Will the Real Jesus ever come forth in films, videos, artwork, and dramas? Will the real Jesus be described in messages, with services that reflect the manhood he really had? Will he cease being made over so he can fit into a Ladies Aid? Will the music quit forcing men with red blood in their veins to sing emotional, tear-jerking songs that embarrass them to sing the lines, or will churches quit making men hug and hold hands just "to feel good" or satisfy somebody's idea of how Christians ought to behave together. It isn't natural to most men to hold hands in this culture. It's strange to them to ask them to say "I love you" to another man. Pastors, you ought to know this! Emotionalism is good, but not in the feminine way, for men. They don't want to hear endless messages about "relationships." They want some action, real men's action. They need to be challenged, their testronome levels applied to real life's real needs.

It is high time to retire the medieval Christ who looks like he needs a blood transfusion with the real, red-blooded working man who was Jesus of Nazareth!

It is time for artists, pastors, film producers, musicians, composers, drama coaches, Sunday School teachers, and ministry leaders to consider the real man that was Jesus of Nazareth--or you can forget about engaging the men, who are the real movers of the family and of society and the nation, not women.

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