home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > August 27th > Behold, the Man!

BEHOLD, THE MAN!

A Theology of Manness, by Dr. Andrew Corbett

Count Nicklaus Ludwig von ZinzendorfIn 1719, a young recently graduated German lawyer did what many aristocratic young men do, just before they were about to embark on their diplomatic careers, and went on a jaunt around Europe. He had already been greatly impressed by the writings of Martin Luther and was persuaded by Luther’s understanding of how a man was reconciled to God through faith in the Christ. When he visited one particular art gallery he was struck by a painting that gripped him and changed his life — and quite literally, the world

The young man was Count Nicklaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. Ludwig, as he was known to his friends, was already a devout man by the time he walked into that art gallery and was captivated by the painting of Domenico Fetti called, Ecce Homo (‘Behold the man’). The scene was one of many that the artist painted depicting Christ being presented to Jerusalem mob by Pilate.

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.
Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”
John 19:5

The painting by Fetti is now located in the Bayerische Staats Museum in Munich. Its inscription in Latin at the bottom of the canvas deeply impacted Zinzendorf:

Ego pro te haec passus sum
Tu vero quid fecisti pro me

“This have I suffered for you; now what will you do for me?”

Zinzendorf had been born into great privilege in Dresden. After this encounter with Ecce Homo he determined that while he had been appreciative of what Christ had done for him in bearing his guilt and shame on the cross, the young count had done little to show his appreciation to his Saviour. The early 1700s in Europe was turbulent time. The effects of the Reformation were still reverberating across Europe and had greatly challenged the concept that Christianity was just a matter of identification (much like national identity) rather than individual spiritual conversion. The work of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Zwingli, Huss, and Calvin had demonstrated from the teachings of Christ and His apostles that Christianity was a matter of spiritual conversion mediating directly by the Holy Spirit into the soul of the repentant (rather than through a ‘sacrament’ by a priest).

For there is one God, and there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
First Timothy 2:5

In 1722 Zinzendorf gave refuge to Moravian (Czech) Christians who were fleeing persecution and permitted them to establish a village, Herrnhut on a corner of his estate of Berthelsdorf. But various Christian groups were difficult to pastor for the appointed Lutheran minister. Eventually Zinzendorf stepped in and helped them establish the rules of brotherhood after guiding them through what the New Testament taught about Christian community. The transformation was dramatic. The Moravians instituted love as their goal and bond of brotherhood. They began praying regularly together. Initially their prayers were for their fellow countrymen in Moravia. But then, as they continued to pray together, they began praying for the salvation of people much further afield. This culminated in a special combined communion service on August 13th, 1727. But something very strange happened as they met together to worship, give heed to the Word, and celebrate Holy Communion together. It was reported that as they gathered the door mysteriously opened and a wind came rushing into their gathering. Many of the gathered Moravians began speaking in tongues and crying out to God for the lost of the world. This became known as “the Moravian Pentecost” and marked the beginning of an amazing sequence of events that would change the world!

After this, several of the Moravians felt a deep burden to not just pray for the far-flung peoples of the world, but to go to them and share the gospel. Moravians sold themselves into slavery to reach the unfortunate Africans who had been kidnapped into slavery. They bought passage to the nearly settled Americas. In fact, on one of the sailings, there was a young Anglican minister travelling to America who was doing some deep soul-searching of his own when the ship he was on encountered a violent storm. As many of the passengers feared for their lives, this minister could faintly hear singing coming from the deck of the ship! Curious about who would be so fool-hardy as to be on the deck of a doomed ship in the middle of a violent storm, he peered through a hatch to observe that the group of Moravian Christians also travelling on the ship had decided to sit down on the deck of the ship and worship God together! The minister was so struck by their peace in the midst of this horrendous storm, that he later wrote about it in his journal. He saw in the Moravians a genuine faith in Christ –  a faith that he himself did not have. He wrote in his journal, “I have come to save Americans. But who will save me?” This minister’s name was John Wesley. After he returned to England from America he sought out Zinzendorf, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A statue of Count Zinzendorf in Herrnhut, Germany.

I deeply admire Zinzendorf. I consider him to be one of the greatest men that have ever lived and certainly one of the few men who have literally changed the course of human history. For me, Zinzendorf lived out Paul’s injunction to men that the apostle had written to the Corinthians. Corinth was a highly sexualised city. The city was nestled at the foot of Mount Corinth. At the summit of Mount Corinth was a temple dedicated to the goddess, Aphrodite – the goddess of love. Men would visit Corinth to indulge in the sexual enchantments of the hundreds of available temple prostitutes. We know from Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians that there was promiscuity, rampant fornication, adultery, and sexual abuse of children, vulnerable boys, and women happening in Corinth. It appears that in some measure there was also confusion over gender distinction since many of them had become Christians. We read in First Corinthians about the need for women to wear “head coverings” and assume that Paul is discussing points of fashion without realising that he was reinforcing the original creation mandate that God gave to man and woman (Gen 2:21-22). This original creation of man and woman made them distinct yet equal. Each shared the imago dei (image of God), but each were called to emphasize different aspects of God’s nature and were given bodies which corresponded to these distinctions. To the man, God assigned a stronger sense of justice and gave him a body that enabled him to use his physical strength to protect the woman and her offspring. To the woman, God gave her a stronger sense of nurture and a body that enabled her to nurture her offspring.

¶ Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
First Peter 3:7

TRUE MANHOOD

Paul concludes his ‘first’ epistle to the Corinthians by speaking directly to the men of the Church. It is clear that the Holy Spirit has preserved this for the benefit of all Christian men. It is my hope that the men of our church can exemplify what Paul told these Corinthian men.

¶ Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love.
First Corinthians 16:13

Dr. Gordon Fee notes that the imperative (something which must be done) is written in “military language” to men. Be watchful is a military term. It echoes God’s first command to the first man to guard and keep the garden (of Eden) (Gen. 2:15). Men are thus called to use their strength to protect, not harm, women and children. Secondly, stand firm in the faith is also a military term echoing how a soldier must act when under attack from the enemy. They are to hold their position. Men are to do this when it comes to spiritual truth — despite what the cancel-cultured crowd says. Act like men reinforces the original creation mandate for men to use their God-given strength to muster the courage to be watchful and defend the truth, the right, and the good — especially when it involves the vulnerable. But, Paul concludes, men must not do this in an ugly fashion. They must be watchful, resolute, defending the truth/right/good, by using their strength, in a loving way. The greatest example of this Biblical revelation of manhood was Jesus the Christ, The Man (referred to by Paul in the previous chapter to the Corinthians as “the second Adam” 1Cor. 15:45), “the second Man” (1Cor. 15:47), “the Man from Heaven” (1Cor. 15:48). Jesus is literally, the Man. Every man should look to Jesus as the ultimate example of manhood. And this is my aspiration for my life and my pastoral hope for every man in our church — to act like men! This is something that Count Nicklaus van Zinzendorf and his band of Moravian missionaries were able to promote among the men of the community, which is yet another reason why admire him so much.

This is why I want to implement a strategy to help young boys transition well into manhood, and I need every man in our church to help me. The immediate result will be that we, the Christian men of Tasmania, actually challenge the toxic-manhood model that so many Tasmanian men have been duped into by Satan’s cunning and deceptive use of pornography as a lure in its various forms and media. The end result will be that men treat women with gentleness and respect as their equals — not as objects to be exploited or subjugated for their proclivities and gratifications. This, I hope will empower the women of Tasmania to be free to act like women and find lasting, satisfying, meaningful, life-long partnerships in the manner that our Maker has designed for human flourishing.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Sladden

    Thanks Pastor Andrew,

    It is hard these days to find a decent defintion of what it is to be a man (apart from the obvious XY). So your summary is very helpful:
    (i) men are thus called to use their strength to protect, not harm, women and children, and
    (ii) stand firm in the faith

    And of course, as you imply, follow Jesus who was and is the perfect man. Follow the truth

    Thanks, Brother Mike

    Reply

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THE PRODIGAL FATHER

 Does anyone know what the word prodigal means? Perhaps most people assume that it means: “wanderer”, or “rebel”, or perhaps even “backslider” or that it only applies to sons. This seems to be based on the story that Jesus told in Luke 15 to which most Bible Publishers assign the division title – The Parable of the Prodigal Son. But the word prodigal does not occur in this parable. Interestingly, there are three lead characters in this shocking and famous parable: the father and his two sons. One of these was genuinely ‘prodigal’, and, as Tim Keller points out, it was neither son! To appreciate what Keller means we might need to take another look at what the word prodigal actually means. It comes from the verb prodigious which means remarkably great in extent, size, or degree (New Oxford American Dictionary). It is a word often used to describe an author who regularly writes books – John Grisham is a prodigious author. A prodigal person is therefore, prolific, extravagant, excessive, and, lavish. Keller points out that even though most people ascribe this to the wayward son in the parable, it is more appropriately a designation for the lead character in the story, the father!

SUPER SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIANS

Spare a thought for those people who are often overlooked by churches—and if they are Christians—they frequently struggle to even find a suitable church where they can deepen their relationship with Christ. Often we think of those who struggle with life as those who are “down and out” and blighted by impoverishment, or destitution, or ill-health, or family breakdown, or poor mental health. But surprisingly, even those who are seen as super-successful because of their wealth, social stature, public acclaim or amazing achievements, are actually struggling with loneliness, emptiness, and poor mental health — even if they are a Christian. These super-successful Christians are CEOs of large companies, or world-class or national sporting champions, or internationally renowned performing artists, or A-lister actors, or media personalities, or highly sought after professionals such as surgeons or barristers. They often pay a high price for their success, including, long work hours, constant stress, public criticism, extended time away from their families, fierce competition, and strained marriages. These pressures are exacerbated by their constant travel associated with their work which also makes them vulnerable to exhaustion and extraordinary temptations. This is why these super-successful Christians need to join the kind of church that can provide them with the kind of support, counsel, and accountability that every Christian needs. Here’s how a church can become this kind of church.

MAKING CHURCH A WELCOMING HOME

For many people, making a decision to attend a church is a significant and potentially daunting decision. As they come through the front door they are entering an unfamiliar environment. It is also an environment that may be associated with preconceived ideas of what the expectations and rules of the church community may be. These people probably will not know anybody and they might have concerns that relate to their previous or current lifestyle. For those of us who are regular church attendees, it is possible that we may not fully appreciate the challenges a new attendee may be facing. When we can relate to these concerns, I believe we are better equipped to provide a warm and patient “welcome” to what we hope will become their new church home.

LOVE IN ACTION

Physical illnesses and stressful events are endemic in our society. They can be likened to the thorns that cause both pain and damage. It doesn’t take much for them to impact a person’s life in ways that they did not expect. I believe that we can become more resilient as followers of Jesus by applying an appropriate solution to a known problem. I believe that an appropriate and important part of the solution is for us to show love the way that Jesus demonstrated love during His ministry on earth.

THE TOOLS OF REMEMBERING

I like to think I have a pretty good memory.  I like to think I’m organised.  Generally, I am – I don’t double book appointments, I keep track of what I’m doing and when, I mostly turn up on time. But, on reflection, I’m not so sure this means I have a good memory.

TRUTH vs SOMETHING BIG AND HAIRY

“You were lying in your bed, you were feeling kind of sleepy.
But you couldn’t close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.
Were those eyeballs in the closet? Was that Godzilla in the hall?
There was something big and hairy casting shadows on the wall.
Now your heart is beating like a drum, your skin is getting clammy.
There’s a hundred tiny monsters jumping right into your jammies”!

These are lyrics from a song on the very first Veggie Tales video every made. The title of the song?  “God is bigger than the Boogie Man”. Junior Asparagus was lying in bed frightened, and Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber appeared to tell him that he doesn’t have to be scared of the imaginary monsters because, “God is the bigger.” My childhood night-time fears weren’t so much about big and hairy monsters, aka boogie men, or Godzilla in the hall. My fears were house fires – our home burning down, and “burglars” or “robbers”. But I certainly identify with lying in bed, my heart beating like a drum, my skin getting clammy, my imagination in overdrive.

CLOSING THE DEAL

In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy! 

BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

WHY SOME BELIEVE

Why is it that two people can look at exactly the same evidence and can come to completely different conclusions about it? Even more puzzling is how two equally qualified scientific experts can look at the same data and utterly disagree about what it means. This happens many times in court cases where the prosecution will call their “expert witness” to give his or her professional opinion to verify that the defendant is guilty only to have the defence to present their “expert witness” who gives his or her professional opinion as to why the prosecution’s expert witness was wrong and to prove that defendant is innocent! This at least illustrates why it is not always the quality of the evidence that leads a person to accept or reject a claim. This especially apply to the claims that Jesus Christ made. Of the four accounts in the New Testament written about His life, three of them were written by eye-witnesses and the other one (Luke’s) was written by someone who interviewed many eye-witnesses. It is with interest that we turn to the last one to be John’s Gospel, where he describes dramatic proofs that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable proofs that at times thousands of people witnessed, many still wouldn’t believe. But it seems among those who did believe they all had one thing in common.