We're in the midst of holy week. It begins with Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and culminates in his betrayal, death and resurrection. It is the remembrance of the last week of a man's life. And in that last week, he is ultimately betrayed by a friend, denied by his closest disciple, and crucified by the very people who had praised his name a few days earlier.1
I tend to bristle when we merely try to draw examples of good living from Christ's life. He was more than a nice example for shallow devotional books best enjoyed over afternoon tea. He was God incarnate after all. But as I think about what he went through during that week - and how he want through it - I can't help but think, "Now that was a man."
I've been thinking a lot about masculinity and being a man. (I'm sure it's partly due to my discovery of blogs like The Art Of Manliness and 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son.) The crisis of manhood is a well documented "issue" in this country.2 I'm not sure I can add much to that discussion. I struggle with the same issues of passion, responsibility, identity, etc. But I do think that trying to focus more on Christ, and trying to find my identity in him (as opposed to other things like my work, my family, etc.) can help focus the questions surrounding those issues.
Christ was killed because he was not what the people expected. They thought he would bring a physical/political revolution, but he brought a spiritual revolution.3 They thought he would spill Roman blood, but his own blood was spilled. Christ was killed because he refused to conform to our expectations. Holy week is [in part] about Christ's subversion, destruction and redemption of our expectations of God.
Now that was a man.
We must live as fathers in a world filled with absent fathers. We must live as husbands in a world filled with undevoted husbands. We must live as men in a world that struggles to define what men are. And as we navigate that minefield, we would do well by the grace of God to try and subvert, destroy and redeem the old images of men that we have been given.
A Prayer For The Tuesday Of Holy Week
Lord, as we remember the last week of your son's life on earth, we are reminded of the courage and resilience he showed. He knew even as the people cheered that those same people would ultimately betray him. And yet in his love and mercy he fulfilled his mission to serve as a sacrifice for our sins. Fill us with the same love and mercy for others. Remind us that we are sinners who were saved not by any action on our part but by actions on your part - actions that only a loving God and father could undertake.
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer
1 If you'd like a nice devotional guide reflecting on this last week of God's life, Cardiphonia has posted a guide from Christ The King Presbyterian Church.
2 Doesn't this whole thing strike you as an extremely western, middle-class issue? Do poor farmers in the third world have time for existential crisis about whether or not men with beards either are manly or not to be trusted? (Answer: Manly and sexy.)
3 By the way, a spiritual revolution should spill over into all areas of life. It is not contained to pithy spiritual discussions over afternoon tea.