Sunday, April 08, 2007

Who's the Man?

A few years ago, a movie called "Walking Tall" opened, starring the Hollywood muscle man known affectionately as "The Rock." This remake of the 1973 bruiser was about a man roughed up by some thugs in his hometown, which by the way was a 'cesspool of corruption.' He decided to take the law into his own hands, literally and figuratively: it was a huge piece of wood to be exact.

I saw a billboard for this movie while waiting for a train. There he was, "The Rock" looking righteous and rough, with the wooden beam resting ominously on his shoulder. Now is this the man? Muscle-bound, merciless with his enemies, trading an eye for an eye, and a punch for a kick? Is this what we're encouraged to become when times get tough, when the other team scores, when someone steals your parking space?

Coincidentally, the day I saw the poster of The Rock and his trusty wooden weapon, previews for "The Passion of the Christ" were out; it was set to release at the same time as "Walking Tall." Here I saw a vision of another Man, looking ridiculed and beaten, with a wooden beam resting ominously on his shoulder. He had entered into a town that could also be called a 'cesspool of corruption.' He too decided to take the law into his own hands, literally and figuratively. The law said death was the penalty for sin, but instead of dishing it out, he took death onto Himself. With the weapon of the Cross, he faced down the Devil and beat death at its own game.

This Man, who had every right to deal out justice to the nations (since He was and is the Just One), instead took the hits for us, laying down His life. What a paradox, what a total reversal of what we'd expect. Which way is the more manly way? Which path is the more difficult one? Which man was more effective in his mission against injustice?

Isn't it ironic that the day the world was asked to choose their answer, these two visions of man were both physically present? On Pilate's left in that stone courtyard was Barabbas, a revolutionary, a fighter who had killed for his cause, and on Pilate's right was Jesus, a revolutionary who would be killed for His cause. "Bar abbas" is Hebrew for "the son of the father."

And which son did they choose? And which Son will you choose?

Pontius Pilate himself tried to show us the answer, as he pointed to the wounded and broken one to his right; "Behold the Man!"

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