Macho Man v Biblical Man
BY JENNIFER SUM · PUBLISHED 2019-03-28
From young, we are all taught what manliness is all about – which usually involves being well-built, tough, and emotionally impenetrable. Taken one step further is the macho man who is full of bravado. The macho man will aggressively protect his “invincible” image and not back down from any confrontation. Contrary to these ideas, Jesus was tenderhearted and weepy, as much as He was focused and confident. He did not even have an impressive appearance to draw us to Him. Jesus wouldn’t match contemporary definitions of manliness or machoism.
“Strong men are muscular and hunky.”
Jesus was not outstanding in His appearance. The Bible records that there was nothing impressive, handsome, or majestic about how he looked. He was probably quite plain. Jesus certainly would not have looked like any of the outsized male role models of today. God does not look at the outward appearance of a man, He sees directly into his heart.
Isaiah 53:2 NLT My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
“Strong men are admired and popular.”
Jesus was the strongest, most powerful man ever to walk this earth. Yet God allowed Himself to be despised, looked down on, and rejected. The lack of admiration or popularity did not faze Jesus. His strength did not depend on what people thought of Him. His strength came from knowing His identity; that He is the Son of God and nothing could change that for all eternity. Jesus calls all His disciples to follow His example – and to remember that we are redeemed sons of our Father in heaven for eternity.
Isaiah 53:3 ESV He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Definitions of what it means to be a man in the world’s eyes are totally irrelevant before God. He calls us to be a man in His eyes and follow what He requires of us.
1 Kings 2:2-3 NIV … “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires:
“Strong men will not allow themselves to be humiliated.”
We all spend a lot of time protecting our reputations and images, covering up anything we feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Jesus, in the most literal sense, was completely uncovered and openly humiliated as He was crucified naked for our sins. Crucifixion was the most despised form of Roman punishment at that time, reserved for dangerous criminals and the lowest rungs of society. Yet Jesus endured the shame of the cross because of His great love for us. Jesus wasn’t a doormat but He did know when to become one for the sake of others.
Hebrews 12:2 NLT … Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne
“Strong men do not show mercy.”
Strong men are often depicted in our popular culture as the ones that show no mercy. Otherwise, they would be attacked or ridiculed for being “weak”. Jesus has a soft sensitive heart that is filled with mercy and compassion for all of us. This quality brings God, the Father, much joy. He calls all men to be like Jesus and have mercy on others as well.
Matthew 9:36 ESV When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 3:17 NTL And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
Matthew 18:33 ESV And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’
“Strong men don’t cry.”
There are three recorded instances of Jesus weeping. One was over the death of Lazarus. Another was over the downfall of the city of Jerusalem. The third was of Jesus crying out to God to save Him. This world, however, would have told Jesus to just “be a man” and “just suck it up.” Jesus was raw and authentic with His emotions, unafraid to display His tears in front of a crowd. This, however, is a terrifying concept for most contemporary men.
John 11:32-33,35 ESV Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. Jesus wept.
Luke 19:41-44 ESV And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Hebrews 5:7 ESV In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
“Strong men fight back.”
We are taught that “real men” don’t back down from a fight. God’s Word, on the contrary, teaches us not to repay evil for evil but instead, to bless those who attack us. We are called to stand our ground and turn the other cheek. Violence does not resolve issues. By blessing our bullies, we knock the wind out of their sails. They cannot gain any power over us as we refuse to bow down to their violence. Instead, we choose to love God and to love them.
Matthew 22:36-40 ESV “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus showed us what this looks like vividly. He is described as a humble lamb that was led to the slaughter. He endured such a violent beating that people were shocked that His face was so disfigured that Jesus didn’t even look human anymore. Holding back all His terrifying power, Jesus willingly submitted Himself to be beaten without retaliating, because He first submitted to God’s redemptive plan for our sakes.
1 Peter 3:9 ESV Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
Matthew 5:39 ESV But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Isaiah 53:7 ESV He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Isaiah 52:14 NLT But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.
Author’s note: There is an incident in the temple of Jerusalem (John 2:13-16) where it may appear that Jesus condoned anger and violence. He made a whip to drive out greedy money changers who turned God’s place of prayer into a marketplace. In reality, this was a godly rebuke rather than a senseless act of aggression. Jesus overturned tables, poured out coins, and scolded them. He is not recorded as attacking any person. God, in fact, hates violence.
John 2:15-17 ESV And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. To those selling doves He said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn My Father’s house into a marketplace!” Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”
Psalm 11:5 NIV The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.
Overturning male stereotypes
Any man who follows Jesus will be challenged by worldly alternatives of what it means to be a “real man”. If we conform to the patterns of the world, we will look less and less like Jesus.
Romans 12:2 ESV Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Instead, God calls us to become well-trained men that have the courage to follow the example that our eternal male Role Model, Jesus Christ, has set for us.
Luke 6:40 ESV A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
Here are some other encouraging reminders from God’s Word for men that choose to honour Jesus Christ.
Walk humbly with God | Micah 6:8 ESV He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Be in community with other men, to sharpen one another | Proverbs 27:17 ESV Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Stand firm in the faith | 1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Welcome God’s discipline and training | Hebrews 12:5-6,11 ESV And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Pray everywhere, lift one’s hands in worship | 1 Timothy 2:8 ESV I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
Give up childish ways of thinking and reasoning | 1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
Be sober-minded, self-controlled | 1 Timothy 3:2-3 ESV Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
Be kind | Micah 6:8 ESV He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Be gentle | 1 Timothy 6:11 ESV But as for you, O man of God… Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
Be strong and do everything in love | 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV … act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.