13 August 2014 by Rev Dr Steven Kau –
Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministry had published a booklet entitled, “The Formidable Christ.” In his booklet, Dr. Kennedy states, “There was much more to Jesus than is portrayed in most of our churches today. We do not see Jesus as formidable but merely ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.’ We have turned His meekness into weakness and His gentleness to fear. There was something formidable about Christ.”
Kennedy writes, “He could look into the hearts of people and read their thoughts and there was something about His purity and holiness that seemed to be seen in every glance of His eye. He would look into the face of a man who was about to stretch out his hand and take Him and the man who freeze with fear.” Over and over again in the Bible we read this phrase: “What kind of man is this?” (Matthew 8:27) It was the formidable Christ who could excite dread and awe in the hearts of men.”
It is interesting to note, when delicate or controversial issues arise within our communities, we are instructed by clergy and church members to be “Christ-like” in our response. I have heard and read it so many times before; let’s see, we are to turn the other cheek, love and do good to our enemies, be accepting and not offend anyone, mind our own business and not judge anything, just simply be nice, a “have a good day” sort of thing. But in a dying world, any pastor that adjusts his sermons to appease the cowardly is not worth the price of a good spittoon.
What does it really mean to be “Christ-like?” The apostle John said we must be willing to “walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6) So with that thought in mind, let’s take a quick stroll through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to see how our Master walked. For the time being, let’s leave His teaching aside, which we are also admonished to follow and look solely at His actions.
Let’s look at what Jesus actually did, rather than what we would like to believe about Him!
• Jesus did not preach the good news only. His prophecies about the future were often very frightening. His teachings are not some “Here are my feelings, what do you think?” philosophy. Almost every time Jesus went into the temple it was to have controversy with the wicked leaders. (John 2:7-8; Mark 11: Luke 19; Matthew 21) When He visited the synagogue it was the same. (Luke 4; Mark 1-3)
• In Matthew we find that Jesus rebuked His followers and irritated religious leaders by healing on the Sabbath. He called the Pharisees hypocrites and vipers and didn’t care when they were offended because they didn’t like that He “collared outside the lines of their man-made religion.” He rebuked Peter, was exasperated at the people’s unbelief and stood up for children.
• In Mark we see Jesus was angry and distressed at stubborn hearts, “borrowed” a colt without permission, cursed a tree and it died.
• In Luke He said true but insulting things to people from His home town, rebuked John and James, insulted religious leaders, made sure His disciples were armed with swords and referred to Herod as a “Fox.”
• In John He made a whip and drove business men from the temple and vandalized their property. He talked to a strange woman (against the custom), called people on their duplicity, offended people with His hard teaching and called religious leaders children of the devil. He considered it better to let Mary use expensive perfume on Him rather than sell it and give the money to the poor and showed no respect for the high priest.
• Jesus praised His cousin, John the Baptist, who judged and publicly ridiculed Herod for adultery. Jesus said of him, “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” Can you imagine Jesus apologizing to Herod for what His cousin said about Herod’s adulterous lifestyle? Not in your life?
• Though it may anger some, it happens to be a fact that when some people attempted to seek Jesus for help, he would withdraw to a private place and not immediately help them. One illustration is in Matthew 15:21-29 where Jesus innately refused to answer the request of a Canaanite woman whose daughter was demon possessed. Today’s popular Jesus would have emptied every graveyard, hospital and healed every disease, cast out every demon and answered every prayer and never refused a request for aid. Yet, the real Jesus did refuse to listen to this woman initially and had it not been for her persistence and intensity and for her faithful answer to a question she was asked, the account in Matthew clearly indicated Jesus would have stolidly refused to have helped the woman’s daughter.
• A chilling analogy comes from the parable in the nineteen chapter of Luke where Jesus said, “But bring here these enemies of mine who did not want me to reign over them and slay them before me.” (19:27)
This was the kind of person who drew great crowds of thousands, yet often made people terribly uncomfortable. His brand of kindness was not always a sweet medicine. If, Webster says, nice means to be pleasing, agreeable or socially acceptable, then Jesus was not very nice. His life and His death proved the point.
The principle of give or forgiveness, loving and sharing was what Jesus preached and practiced. But never did He intend to imply that a Christian under His New Testament teaching was not obligated to obey the commandments which He Jesus, in His pre-existent state had written with His own finger! The Christian Church would not have advanced beyond Jerusalem and would have been stopped before it got started if it had relied on the timid, soft-sell propaganda that is used today to define our Lord.
If there are clergy in your church aggressively speaking out regarding the evils that have invaded our society (and there are a few brave souls who have), why not call or write them? Show them your appreciation and offer your support. The road can be lonely if traveled alone.
To the Christian leaders who suggest we retreat to the safety of our “holy burrows” and “holy huddles,” I would like to ask:
• At what point will you rise to defend your beliefs, or have you lost your spiritual backbone completely?
• Is there any evil plummeting our country that you would put your reputation in jeopardy to challenge?
• Is there any sin within our society where you would draw the line and say “no more?”
Maybe it’s moral ignorance. Maybe its past generations which clung to nothing of virtue. Maybe we have neglected to pass these ideas along; imagining society would somehow derive the principles needed to guide our lives. I don’t know what it is. I only know it scares me that so many people have become blasé about ethics and public trust and others, so alert to the public affront, seem incapable of moral indignation. How long have you watched the ethical free-fall around you without speaking your mind?
Former Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore sums it up quite well. Moore says he sees the American nation wandering in a maze, searching for a lost morality. “That’s where we are,” he concludes. “We don’t have a distinction between right and wrong. That’s why I see before my court kids committing murder. That’s why I see politicians ripping off the public. That’s why I see education standards plummeting; we’ve lost our morality. We’ve lost a sense of right and wrong. We’ve lost a relationship with God.”
The original disciples of Jesus paid with their lives for doing what they believed Jesus would do. Jesus showed us how to live and how to die. He showed us how to uphold God’s purpose for our lives and has called us to be His salt and light in a dark and dying world. You cannot refuse His call and still call Him Lord.
Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. Those that customize Jesus in order to justify all manner of wrongful behavior, are the same frauds that teach He will reject no one for His Kingdom. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were religious fanatics that were spiritually proud while being morally corrupt. They were hypocrites. They persecuted Jesus and finally succeeded in killing Him.
Brethren our Jesus is a formidable personality. Be proud to keep His banner lifted high. Don’t you dare “declaw” the Lion of Judah! He is and will always be “The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.” Amen.
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