When you think about Jesus, what comes to mind?
The cross, sure, but some Christianized - rather than Christlike - version of it. You know, polished silver or gold. No blood. Perhaps it is His long hair and sandals that first come to mind, or the seemingly unpredictable nature of His actions. Maybe you think of the ragtag group of disciples that He brought together around Him. Maybe you marvel at the miracles He performed.
Maybe when you think about Jesus, you think about all the things God promised about Him and all the things the people were expecting - King of kings, wonderful counselor, mighty God, Prince of Peace. Messiah. Immanuel. Rabblerouser. Son of David. Son of Man. Son of God.
What would you say if I said "Warrior"?
That's not the image of Jesus that we often have, not in the slightest. Jesus? A warrior? He never once picked up a sword. In fact, when one of His disciples picked up a sword, it was Jesus who healed the man wounded by it. He never once stormed His disciples into battle; He walked them into open doors. Violent mobs often gathered around Him, but He never once fought back. Never even raised a fist. Never even raised a finger.
Everything Jesus did had this quiet sense of calm about it, even in the midst of raging storms. Even when the winds were blowing troubled, even when the seas were violently tossed, even when the disciples were screaming and the crowds were pressing in and the pitchforks were being lit, Jesus is just sort of...Jesus. There's nothing war-like about this man, so how could you ever mistake Him for a warrior?
And yet, read the Gospels again. Go through every story. Pay attention to every encounter that Jesus has with the persons who have sought Him out, those who have stood and called His name, those who were brought before Him, those who fell at His knees. Every single one of these persons, Jesus fought for.
For the blind men pushed to the outskirts, who won't stop crying out His name even when the crowds tell them to quiet down, He fights. He makes sure they are heard, brings them to the front, guarantees that the crowd sees them. For the social outcasts pushed to the margins, those who wouldn't be given a second thought, He fights. He makes sure they are known, that the people can't stop thinking about what they've done. For those caught in their own nets, trapped in their own stories, He fights. He pulls on a loose thread here, a tough knot there until they know there's a way out.
Over and over and over again, Jesus makes sure that there's a victory. Wherever He goes, He leaves a win in His wake.
That's not what we often think about when we think about Jesus. We think about more tender things, like grace or forgiveness. We think about love. We think about gentleness and peace and the overwhelming unshakableness of who He is. But make no mistake about it, this tender Son of Man is also a fierce Son of God, and everywhere He goes, He's fighting for someone. Fighting hard core.
Even without ever touching a sword.