The Incomparable ChristThe Manliness of Christ
Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The subject we’re talking about today is one that I will confess I had not given a lot of thought to before this series. In fact, I was tempted to bring in a guest teacher today, and when I tell you what the topic is, you’ll know why.
Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, March 5, 2015.
In the season leading up to Resurrection Sunday, we’re focusing on Christ. Nancy is using a classic book by J. Oswald Sanders as an outline. The book is The Incomparable Christ. When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you a copy. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Now, what topic in this book tempted Nancy to call in a guest speaker?
Nancy: We come to a chapter in that book entitled, “The Manliness of Christ.” Now, I’ll tell you the truth. If I had written a book on the incomparable Christ, I probably would not have thought to include a chapter on the manliness of Christ, but I’m so glad Oswald Sanders did.
One of the things I learned in studying this chapter, this topic, I always knew it was challenging to be a true woman, but as I studied this, I realized it is no less challenging to be a true man. Jesus, of course, is THE true man.
Unfortunately, our concept in our culture of what it means to be a man, to be manly, has been really confused. It’s been really distorted. I mean, what is a true man?
- Is it detached, macho, gun-slinging John Wayne?—“Never apologize, Mister!”
- Is it Rambo—the ultimate warrior, but a loner? Is that what it means to be a true man?
- Is it somebody who’s overbearing and arrogant, controlling?
- Is it a man who’s “wild at heart”?
- Or is it a man, a Tom Hanks, who is tender, sensitive, caring?
What is a true man?
Richard Phillips has written a book called The Masculine Mandate, and he says, "Modern masculinity has been all about men behaving like little boys forever, serving themselves in the name of self-discovery."
Well, we have to look to Jesus for a picture of true manhood. But that begs the question, What kind of man was He? Unfortunately, the things that shape our view of Jesus are not always accurate or balanced. We get so much of our view of Jesus from places other than the Scripture.
Take paintings for example. Often you see this wimpy, pathetic character. And the concept is furthered by phrases like "Gentle Jesus: Meek and Mild." We see that emphasis on Christ that sometimes emasculates Him, if I could say that carefully.
What I mean by that is we want:
- A God that we can control, one we can manage and harness and live comfortably with
- A God who is safe
- A God who tolerates anything and everything
- A God who accepts us as who we are, who approves whatever we do
- A God who never challenges or confronts or changes us
- A God who never rocks our boat
The biblical picture of Christ is not that kind of God. He's not that kind of man
In yesterday’s session we talked about the humanity of Christ. His humanity is something He shared in common with all of us as men and women. As Jesus obeyed the Father, as He resisted temptation, He modeled qualities that should be true of all believers—whether male or female.
But He exhibited that human obedience as a man, a male, not as a woman or as some androgynous, sexless being. His gender was a male, and that gender was not an arbitrary aspect of His incarnation.
You maybe never thought about this before, but God didn’t flip a coin in heaven to decide whether Jesus should be born as male or female. The male gender of Jesus is a necessary and significant part of God’s redemptive plan. Now, that could be a whole session on its own, and I’m not going to go there. There are many reasons biblically to support that point—that Jesus had to be a male.
Let me give you one—prophet, priest, and king. The offices typified in the Old Testament that Jesus fulfills in the New, most of the Old Testament prophets were men, all the priests and all the kings were men, and Christ who fulfills those types had to be a man, for that and many other reasons.
But here’s the point I want to make in this session, and that is that Christ lived out His humanity in ways that are common to all of us, but He also lived out His humanity in distinctively masculine ways. He revealed godliness as a man. He was not only the perfect human being; He was also the perfect male, and as such, He provides the perfect role model for men.
Now, as I said, I haven’t done a lot of thinking about this topic before, and I’ve been grappling with it in recent weeks: The manliness of Christ. What does that mean? And what’s the “So what?” of all of that? I'm in my journey still; I’m still exploring all of that. But let me just share with you some things that have struck me as I have been pondering this.
I asked the question, “How does Jesus exemplify perfect manliness? How does He fulfill the masculine role? Well, He does in several ways.
First of all, in the gospels, as you look at Jesus moving, operating, you see His gracious masculinity in the way that He guarded and served and invested in the women around Him. This was something that was uncommon in that area. Women were often considered nothing more than pieces of property. You see Jesus giving attention to, providing, protecting, being a gentleman, if you will, with the ladies.
You see a Jesus as a man who was not awkward around women he wasn’t married to. Now, He wasn’t married at all, but you see Him being able to have fellowship and friendship with women in a way that wasn’t awkward. He was the perfect man.
You see Him not being afraid to invest in relationships where other people were quick to look for scandal. The rabbis of Jesus’ day would not have struck up a conversation with that woman at the well, the woman of ill repute. But Jesus did. He wasn’t awkward about that. He wasn’t afraid to strike up a conversation with that woman, to introduce her to her need for a Savior, where even though other people might have criticized.
We see how Jesus as a man models this perfect balance of strength and tenderness. Let me give you a couple of examples that show up, interestingly, in the Old Testament—two prophecies in Isaiah that are prophecies about the Messiah that were fulfilled in Christ. They show this balance of strength and tenderness.
In Isaiah chapter 40, verse 10, it says:
Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
So here we have a God of strength and might who's ruling, who's leading, who's judging, who's meting out judgment—that’s a picture of the Messiah, a picture of Christ.
Then in the very next verse, verse 11 of Isaiah 40:
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
You see the tenderness and the strength there? In one person—the perfect man.
Here’s another example in Isaiah chapter 42, which is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 12 and applied to Christ, so we know this is a prophecy about Christ. We see in this passage that Jesus knew when it was appropriate to speak gently and tenderly and bind up people’s wounds. Isaiah 42, verse 1:
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench (vv. 1–3).
He’s a gentle Savior. He’s not going to shout when it’s time to whisper. But He also knew when it was appropriate to raise His voice and to display the wrath of God against sin. Same chapter—Isaiah 42—verse 13:
The LORD goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, [This is the one that it said verses earlier would not cry aloud or lift up His voice in the street, now He’s shouting aloud.] he shows himself mighty against his foes.
The perfect man knows when to whisper, knows when to shout, knows when to mete out mercy, knows when to mete out judgment. Mercy and truth have met together in Christ, the perfect man.
Let me ask you to turn to a New Testament passage that I had not thought of before in this context, but I think it says a lot to us about Christ as a man, about His manliness. First Corinthians chapter 16—if you have a Bible and want to turn there—I’m going to look at two verses that paint a picture of the manliness of Christ.
Let me give you a little context here. Paul is giving instructions to the elders of the church at Corinth who have written to him with questions. He refers to these elders as “brothers” in verses 12 and 15.
Then, sandwiched between those verses, verses 13 and 14, he gives five exhortations. Those are the two verses I want to look at, 1 Corinthians 16, verses 13 and 14. These verses, I think, give insight into character qualities that, while they are not exclusively masculine, they describe what godly male leadership should look like. In this program, we speak to women—I don’t preach to men. I know we have some men who listen and occasionally they write and remind me of that, but I’m preaching to the women. If the men want to eavesdrop, that’s up to them.
But women, it’s important for us to know, as we pray for God to raise up godly male leadership, what are we praying for? What kinds of qualities are we asking God to put in our pastors, husbands, men, spiritual leaders? Most of all, for purposes of this program, I want you to see how these qualities are perfectly modeled in Christ—the manliness of Christ.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men [If you have the NIV there, it says “be courageous.”], be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
One commentator on this passage has pointed out that the first four of these five exhortations, the ones found in verse 13, are military terms. Let’s look at each of those terms and what it means, and as we do, you’ll see that this is something that Christ models.
Number one: Be watchful. It’s a concept of staying awake, being alert, being vigilant. It’s the idea of a sentinel that’s stationed to guard a military camp. He has to continually be on guard. He has to watch out for danger, watch out for the enemy. And men of God . . . Now there’s a sense in which all of this applies to women as well, but I think it particularly shows characteristics of godly, male leadership. Watchfulness—being on their guard in relation to danger and temptation and evil.
Paul is saying, “You have to be on guard; you have to be watchful for your own soul—as a man—and you also have to be watchful for the souls of others, so that an enemy won’t come in while everyone is sleeping and wreak havoc. Your husband, if you are married, has a huge responsibility for your family to be watchful, to make sure that the enemy doesn’t get in to the family through means of mass media or culture or television programs or movies that could send you in directions other than God’s way. He has to be watchful for subtle devices of the evil one. He is responsible to defend those under his care.
And who’s more responsible a shepherd than Christ Himself, the God/man? Be watchful.
Number two: Stand firm in the faith. This is the concept of holding fast to the truth, not being swayed by winds of doctrine, by fads, by false teaching. And, again, we as women—we’ve taught in this ministry about the importance of discernment, about standing firm in the faith. But there’s a need for godly men who will stand firm in the truth. That they will know what the truth is and will plant their feet and their hearts firmly in the truth and stand there. They’re not going to move no matter who comes along and gives some new-fashioned teaching or approach. They’re going to be firmly planted in the truth. “Be watchful; stand firm in the faith.”
Number three: Act like men. Now, this is the only time that word (it’s one word in the Greek language) is used in the New Testament. However, in the Greek version of the Old Testament, this word (found only once in the New Testament) is used many times, and each time it’s translated “be strong and courageous.” That’s what it is to act like a man, to be strong, to be courageous.
You say, “Does that mean women shouldn’t be courageous and strong?” No, but it does mean there’s a specific calling in the hearts of men to be courageous and strong. One commentator said, "It means to conduct yourself in a courageous way." Be a man! Be bold; be brave; be valiant for the truth and not cowardly. Act like men. Paul says this to the spiritual leaders of his day, to the elders, be courageous, be bold. Don't be timid or cowardly.
Again, who better models this than Christ? How courageous was He to stand against the tide of the Pharisees? He didn’t fear the Pharisees. They were the undisputed leaders and respected men of their day, but Jesus didn’t kowtow to them. He acted like a man. When He knew the truth, which He always did, He stood up for it. He defended it. He was courageous. “Be watchful; stand firm in the faith; act like men.”
Number four: Be strong—firm, fixed, steadfast. Someone who’s strong isn’t going to run when he’s attacked. He’s going to press on. We see Jesus pressing on toward Jerusalem, even when the disciples said to Him, “Oh, You can’t let that happen to You.”
Jesus said, “I’m going to be arrested; I’m going to be tried; I’m going to be crucified; I’m going to die.”
And His best friends, His disciples, said, “Oh, no, no, no, Jesus. Don’t let that happen.”
Jesus was strong. He set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem—the place where He knew He would suffer, the place where He knew he would be abused and mistreated—because He knew it was the plan and the will of His heavenly Father. He was strong, firm, fixed, and steadfast. What a man was Christ!
So we have those four military terms: “Be watchful; stand firm in the faith; act like men; and be strong.” And then we have in verse 14 of 1 Corinthians 16, one final exhortation, and it ties these all together: “Let all that you do be done in love.”
That has to do with the motive and the manner of acting like a man, being courageous. This is not a man who is just plunging forward, running over people in his path, wreaking havoc, being domineering, being controlling. This is a man who is doing all those things—being watchful, standing firm, acting like a man, being strong—he’s doing it all in love. That’s his motive. That’s his manner. It’s not for selfish gain. He’s not harming or controlling others. He is doing it for love’s sake.
We can see this in Christ’s relationships with both men and women. He was always seeking the interests of others, never acting in an inappropriate way, never ever talking harshly unless the harshness was needed as a means of love to bring down the proud hearts of those who were resistant. The perfect man, the true man is all seen in Christ.
Now, not only in His earthly life did Christ conduct Himself in a manly way as a true man, but still today, Christ gives us a pattern for true manliness. Remember, we said He’s still in that body, that human body, exalted in heaven. He gives us a pattern from heaven for true manliness as the Savior, the Head, and the Bridegroom of His Church.
How does He do that? Let me just list some ways:
- He takes initiative in pursuing His Bride, wooing and winning her heart. God’s doing that in some of your hearts right now—drawing your heart to Christ. It’s Christ’s initiative that is doing that.
- He demonstrates His manliness in that uncommon, selfless, sacrificial love as He lays down His life for the Church. He has shown us that love in the cross, in His sacrificial death on our behalf.
- He demonstrates courage and boldness in protecting His Bride. As the second Adam, He steps in to reverse the effects of the first Adam’s failure to protect and provide spiritual leadership for the woman.
We hear so much talk today about passive men. Passivity was one of Adam’s first sins. He didn’t step in. He didn’t step up to the plate. He didn’t protect the woman. Now, that’s not to say that the woman wasn’t responsible, too. They were both responsible. But we see this role reversal where Eve takes initiative, Adam is passive and stands by and lets it happen. Christ reversed that. He steps in to reverse the effects of Adam’s failure. He is a true man. So He leads His Bride. “He leads us in paths of righteousness for His name sake” (Ps. 23:3). What a man! Can I hear an amen? (Audience responds: “Amen!”)
- He’s faithful in providing for her. We hear today about dead-beat dads and men who aren’t providing for their kids. They’ve abandoned their wives and kids. Now today there are moms doing this as well, but men get the rap on that. Sometimes it’s justified, but Christ will never get that rap. He never abandons those He’s called to provide for.
- He takes active responsibility for the cleansing and sanctification for His Bride. He’s actively pursuing our holiness. He’s a leader. He’s a man. He’s a warrior and a deliverer as He wages war on our behalf to rescue us from sin and bondage, to overcome Satan and the flesh and ultimately this world’s system. What a man!
- We see Him as the conquering King who will one day return for His Bride, victorious over every enemy, to reign as the sovereign Lord of the universe forever and ever.
Now, as we often say: That’s the “What.” Now, what’s the “So what?” The manliness of Christ, what’s the application for us? We’re women. I’m talking to women in this room. What’s the application to all of this for us?
Well, some women would say, “Yes, we ought to point out the things that men aren’t doing right because they’re not being like Jesus.” No. That’s not the application. (Laugher) For us as women:
Number one: Christ is the only perfect Man who ever lived. So don’t expect other men to be what only Christ is! We set ourselves up for disappointment when we expect anyone, male or female, to be what only Christ can be.
Number two: As a woman, you may have had some experiences . . . as I got a letter from a woman this week talking about experiences that caused her to distrust men. You may have been hurt greatly by a father, boyfriend, a husband. Can I say, “Look to Christ”? He will never wrong you. He will never abandon you. He will never fail you. In Him you have a picture of what true manhood was intended to be—and what, by God’s grace, it can be in men who follow Christ.
That leads me to this point: It’s important for us as women to affirm and encourage masculinity in men. Don’t try and feminize them. The goal is not for them to be more like us. The goal is for them to be more like Jesus. So we need to pray for our Christian brothers to be conformed to the image of Christ, as we pray that for ourselves.
Let me leave you with just one more thought about the manliness of Christ picked up from John chapter 4 as we see the woman at the well—the Samaritan Woman. After she encounters Christ, He probes into her life and makes Himself known to her as the one who can meet her needs. Scripture says:
So the woman left her water jar [there at the well] and went away into town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.
This is the woman who had been married five times and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband. She's been shocked. Talk about reality therapy, Jesus had given it to her. But she was drawn to Him. “Come, see a man.”
"Can this be the Christ?" [A man, the Christ.] They went out of the town and were coming to him (vv. 28–30).
This woman had known lots of other men. She had come home many times telling about another man. You can just imagine people in that town saying, “Yeah, one more man. What’s new in this woman’s life? ‘Come, see a man.’ We’ve heard that song before.” Now she says, “This one is different. None of them was worthy of being followed and worshiped by this woman, much less the whole town. When she told them about the manliness of Christ, they went and followed Him.
I want to suggest that if we let people see Christ in His perfect deity, His perfect humanity; if we let them see Him through us, then they will be drawn to Him. So our message is not, “Come, follow me,” but “Come, see a man. Is He not the Christ?”
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing true masculinity. We find it lived out perfectly in the person of Christ. I’d have to say I’ve never reflected much on the manhood of Christ, but it has been a rich study. I’d say that’s true for all the messages in our current series, "The Incomparable Christ."
The messages follow an outline by a book of the same name, The Incomparable Christ by J. Oswald Sanders. As Nancy has studied these topics, she’s needed to ponder some topics she wouldn’t otherwise have considered.
Nancy: Well, Oswald Sanders’ chapter on the masculinity of Christ was something of an eye opener for me. I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about that subject before, but as we’ve heard today, it really is an important topic. You see, when men embrace biblical masculinity and women embrace biblical femininity, God is glorified, and together we present an accurate picture of Christ and His Church.
One listener named Jessica has been especially challenged in this area. She wrote to us to say, “I never thought I would embrace my role as a biblical woman the way I do now.”
Listening to Revive Our Hearts showed her the value and the beauty of living out her role as a woman. She said, “Thank you for your faithful obedience to Christ.”
I’m so thankful for those who generously donate to Revive Our Hearts and make these kinds of connections possible. We’re able to stay on the air in your area thanks to the support of listeners who have a heart for this message.
If the Lord prompts your heart to make a donation to Revive Our Hearts this month, we’d like to say “thanks” by sending you Sanders’ book, The Incomparable Christ. It’s the book we’ve been following in our current teaching series, and I think it will help you see facets of the life of Christ that perhaps you’ve never considered before.
Just ask for Sanders’ book, The Incomparable Christ, when you call with your donation of any size.
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Leslie: Here's the number: 1–800–569–5959, and you'll also get the companion journal that includes follow up questions. We'll send one book and journal per household. Again, the number is 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.
How could Jesus be both human and divine? How did the divinity and the humanity mix? It’s a question that’s been discussed for centuries. Nancy Leigh DeMoss will help you understand it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.
Topics: The Son