Three Times Jesus Wasn’t Stereotypically Masculine

Jon Patterson

What does it mean to be “manly?” Oftentimes, this word is tied to pictures of power tools, red meat, and something involving fire. But what actually measures masculinity? What is the standard? What if we had a model of a man who was the perfect measure of what a man should be? Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who has ever lived, sets this standard and some of the results are surprising compared to what our current culture has told us is “manly.” Here are three examples of how Jesus breaks our traditional views of masculinity.

1) Jesus wept

The shortest verse in the Bible communicates an amazing truth about our Lord. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.”

Here is the context: In response to the death of her brother Lazerus, Jesus’s follower Mary began to weep at His feet. Jesus knew that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, but that did stop Him from feeling deeply at seeing His followers in pain and mourning. The Bible says that Jesus “was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled” (John 11:33). He expresses this feeling through weeping. While our culture tells us that boys don’t cry, that real men are stoic and lack emotion, Jesus wept. And He did so out of a deep love for those close to Him.

2) Jesus is gentle

In Dane Orlund’s book “Gentle and Lowly,” he makes an amazing observation about Jesus. As Ortlund points out, “In the four gospels…there is only one place where Jesus tells us about His own heart.” (p. 17) That’s right, there is only one place in Scripture where Jesus mentions his heart. This place is Matthew 11:29. Here Jesus says that He is “gentle and lowly in heart.” In the Bible, the heart represents the center of a person’s very being. Jesus says that gentleness is at the very center of who He is. While our culture often shows a picture of manliness that is gruff and grizzled, Jesus tells us that He is gentle. 

Note that this did not keep Jesus from shying away from confrontation. Jesus spoke hard truths often (John 6:60; Luke 13:3; Mark 10:21) and even drove merchants out of the temple and turned over their tables (Matthew 21:12-13), but at the very center of who Jesus wants us to understand Him to be is gentleness. 

3) Jesus valued relationships 

It doesn’t take many conversations with men in the south before you encounter a guy who will tell you something along the lines of “I don’t need the church; I meet God in my deer stand.” While there is no doubt you can have an amazing experience with God in a deer stand, if that is your only diet of experiences with God, you are severely missing out. God made us for relationships. Yes, He meets us in our quiet times, but He commands us to not neglect meeting with others (Hebrews 10:25) and says He uniquely shows up when we are in the presence of others (Matthew 18:20). 

Unlike unhelpful stereotypes of real men being lone wolves, Jesus valued relationships. Jesus absolutely had a personal relationship with His heavenly Father (Matthew 11:27), but He also had three disciples who He knew intimately: Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17; 26:37). Those three were a part of a larger group of twelve disciples who Jesus did everyday life with (Luke 6:13). Finally, Jesus cared for large groups of people who followed Him and wanted to be near Him (Luke 9:11; Matthew 19:2). 

There are a lot of statements out there about what it means to be “manly.” Let’s look to the perfect man Jesus to know what is the true picture of masculinity. 

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