In the Old Testament, we read about a great leader and warrior chosen to replace Moses as the earthly head of Israel and to lead the people of God into battle, to defeat evil and to settle into a perfect home where Israel was to be a kindom of priests commissioned to lead the nations to know the one true God. See Deut. 7:1-2; Joshua 1:1-11. Cf. Deut. 9:4-6
Yet, as great as Joshua was, he ultimately failed to defeat evil and bring the world to worship the one true God (Josh. 9:1-27). In fact, all of Israel’s great warriors failed (see the Book of Judges) and so have we.
We have attempted to use force, politics, economics, religion, psychology, or you name it, to defeat evil and create a perfect home but all of our attempts have failed.
Thousands of years later Jesus was born. Jesus is the English of the Greek Yesus which is taken from the Hebrew Yeshua which can also be rendered…Joshua.
Why did God name his son after a great warrior? Is this how you think of Jesus? Probably more like the 80lb weakling from South Park, right?
Well, we all need to rethink Jesus. We need to rethink his story. If you remember the story of Israel, it goes something like this: (1) Israel passes through water; (2) is tested in the desert; and (3) is commissioned to go into the Promised Land, defeat evil and bring the world to worship the one true God. What does Jesus do? He is baptized (or passes through water); is tested in the desert and is commissioned to defeat evil (exorcisms, healings and, of course, the cross). Jesus lives out the story of Israel. We may err and think that Israel was plan a and Jesus was plan b, but, in fact, the plan was perfect…it just took God in the flesh to execute it correctly.
We even need to rethink how he looked. Isa. 53:2 states that the messiah was to be plain looking not blue eyed, rosy cheeked and ready to lead an ’80’s hair metal band as he is depicted in many of the bad paintings you see hanging in churches and old ladies’ living rooms. A few years ago, the BBC did a poor documentary on Jesus but the one thing it did well was have forensic archaeologists dig up skulls from 1st century Palestine and created a composite drawing of a “plain looking” Jewish man from Jesus’ time. This drawing is closer to what Jesus really looked like than the popular images we see every week.
Moreover, we need to rethink how he died. Luke 9:51 states that Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem.” In other words, Jesus headed toward tortue and death on our behalf with head held high and shoulders square. We like to think of Jesus as compassionate and wise but we also need to remind ourselves that Jesus was brave.
In other words, Jesus was not a 90lb sweet guy who got beat up. He was, in Mark Driscoll’s words, a rough guy from a hick town who swung a hammer for years, had calloused hands and was probably cut from eating fish and figs and walking for miles all around Palestine. This is a savior that fits the mold of a warrior and not just a model example of how to suffer.
We also need to rethink why he died. It is true that Jesus died to satisfy God’s wrath against sin (Rom. 3:25) and wash away our guilt (Heb. 9:14) but he also died to defeat the powers of evil. This is the doctrine known as Christus Victor i.e., Christ victorious over the powers of evil (Heb. 2:14-15; Col. 1:13; 2:13-15). The Bible clearly describes Jesus as having solely defeated Satan, death and the powers of darkness and affirms that Jesus will return to finish the work he started (Rev. 20) and we need to rethink that return as well. If you read Rev. 14:10, 17-20 we see that Jesus is the judge and lord even of Hell who will bring a heavy boot down on those who refuse to voluntarily worship him.
One things, while I’m on judgment, it amazes me that Christians get nervous and even disgusted by speaking of judgment as if they are nicer than God! God is wise and just. So, if He judges then it will be right and just and who are we to act as if it is bad thing? The Israelites sure didn’t see it that way.
Let’s put it this way, if you had a judge in your hometown that when faced with rapists or child molesters or murderers just patted these slimebags on the head and said, “it’s okay, honey, you just go home” then people would be up in arms and rightly so! Well, all of us deserve the punishment of hell but out of pure grace Jesus died to pay the penalty for Christians. We should just be grateful for what God has done and affirm that anything He does, including judgment, is right and just.
So, in the end, Jesus is the warrior that Joshua hoped to be and has won the victory we cannot win on our own.
Next week, King Jesus.