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

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.