Making the Argument Against a Pretty-Boy Jesus


Jesus was not a prim-and-proper gentleman. He was a wild-at-heart warrior on a mission.

Picture the Jesus of most Sunday School lessons. What do you see? Chances are, you envision someone a lot like Mister Rogers — kind, gentle, and compassionate. A bearded therapist who pats Timmy on the head and tells him to be “a good little boy.” A handsome prince with perfect hair and impeccable manners. A preppy pacifist who always did what was expected and was loved by everyone.

But the Gospel accounts show a different picture.

If you grew up with that sweet-faced, Sunday-school Jesus, this may be news to you. But the Bible is clear: Jesus was not the prim-and-proper gentleman we sometimes make him out to be. He was a wild-at-heart warrior on a mission — bold, disciplined, and unafraid. He had calluses on his hands and dirt under his nails. He did what was right, even when it was unpopular.

We need to know this rugged Savior. Only he can impact this broken world and call his followers to action. Let’s take a quick look at seven arguments against the pretty-boy Jesus.

1. He grew up in tough circumstances.

Jesus certainly didn’t come into the world with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. Born in a barn, he spent his toddler years in a foreign country as a political refugee. When things settled down, he grew up in a rough mountain village in the rural region of Galilee.

Simply put, Jesus was a country boy, complete with regional accent. He assumed his father’s trade — combining skill, strength, and sweat as a construction worker. And, as the oldest son, he assumed responsibility for his mother and siblings after Joseph’s probable death. Jesus certainly knew hardship from an early age.

2. He hung out with rough people.

Jesus didn’t spend his days with the well-to-do at the country club wearing khaki slacks and a sports coat. Instead, he hung out with the humble, blue-collar folk on the other side of the tracks.

His closest friends were fishermen, which was a tough, labor-intensive profession. One of his followers was a zealot, a political dissident and disturber of the peace. He enjoyed meals with white-collar criminals like Matthew and Zacchaeus. Moreover, Jesus made friends with sinful women — the ones society had discarded. Far from the cultural elite, Jesus loved, served, and befriended “the least of these.”

3. He challenged societal norms.

The clean-cut, preppy Jesus would probably have gone along with the religious and social norms of the day. He wouldn’t want to make waves. But that’s not what the Gospels record. Jesus healed the blind and crippled on the Sabbath, a mandatory day of rest.

He touched lepers, though medically unclean, and let a prostitute wash his feet, though socially taboo. He allowed his disciples to eat with unwashed hands and pick grain from a field on the Sabbath. Jesus even ministered to non-Jews, including a Samaritan woman, a Greek girl, and a Roman centurion. He was a wave-maker indeed.

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SOURCE: Faith Street
John McDougall

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