I grew up in the church. My father was a pastor, and my mother was a Sunday School teacher. It was there, in Sunday School, that I first viewed pictures of Jesus. These paintings of Jesus were on the walls and in children’s books. They were all the same. Jesus looked like a tanned Southern California hippy surfer boy. He was portrayed as soft, sweet, and may I use the term, “wimpy.”
But as I’ve studied Scripture, taught the Bible, and followed the Nazarene for over 40 years, I have developed a very different image of Jesus. As I look at David’s view of God in the Psalms and the actions and lifestyle of Jesus in the New Testament, I believe Jesus is more accurately pictured as a Navy SEAL than a California hippy.
In Psalm 24, David says this about God,
“Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.” (Psalm 24:8)
“Mighty in battle?” What? This definitely sounds more like a description of a Navy SEAL than a surfer boy. This is a leader I can follow. What about the Jesus who cleanses the Temple?
“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” (John 2:13-17)
Now let’s be honest. The Temple-cleansing Jesus is more William Wallace than Mr. Rogers. The warrior Jesus depicted throughout Scripture (see also the “Commander of the Lord’s army” in Joshua 5) is more like a Navy SEAL than the Sunday School image we grew up hearing about.
Why is this important?
This is important because our image of Christ will determine our faith in how we pray, how we believe, and what kind of expectations we have. If your mother is dying, if you need a new job, if you are searching for a breakthrough from an addiction, which kind of Jesus are you trusting in? Hippy boy or Navy SEAL?
I like the image of Navy SEAL Jesus. It’s that image of a warrior, fighter, who is mighty in battle, that gets me through my day. Most of us need a rescuer, a mighty warrior, and a deliverer. Let me challenge you to view Jesus as just that.
Trusting in a Navy SEAL Jesus,