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The Character of a ManReflecting the Image of Jesus
By Bruce Marchiano
Howard BooksCopyright © 2006 Bruce Marchiano
All right reserved.
DISCOVERING JESUS, THE MAN
It was several years ago that I, as an actor, enjoyed the breathtaking privilege of portraying Jesus on film in The Gospel of Matthew. I'd been born again for two years and was well on my way to an exciting journey in salvation. I was enjoying life with the Spirit of God growing (hopefully!) inside me. I was freed from sin, well aware of it, and learning more and more how to walk in the righteousness Jesus bought for me with His death and resurrection. Glory to His blessed Name!
Then the opportunity came to play Him -- wow! As a professional actor, I'd played many characters before, from a cop to a boxing promoter to a journalist to a gentle ex-con whose home was the backseat of a '63 Rambler (doesn't that sound wonderful?). But then I met a born-again director gearing up to put the Gospel of Matthew on film word for word. Over lunch at the downtown Los Angeles Hilton, he said to me, "You're the one," and the rest is history.
The next thing I knew, I had a beard on my face, sandals on my feet, and I was "walking through" the most significant events in universal history -- through the life of Jesus, the most significant Man in universal history. Though I couldn't have guessed it at the time, life for Bruce Marchiano as Bruce Marchiano knew it to be would never, ever be thesame. And again, glory to Jesus! Why do I bring up this life-changing opportunity -- this personal "encounter" with the life of Jesus?
Why do I make a special point of that word, Man? And what do these things have to do with the chapters and words that follow?
When a guy "acts" another person -- and I can only speak for myself as an actor and the specific way that I trained as an actor -- what he essentially does is tiptoe into another life. He walks a mile in another person's shoes. As best he can, he takes on another person's priorities, motivations, point of view, and desires. He does his best to understand and move into this other person's heart.
One of my lines in Matthew was Jesus's saying, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). Another was, "A tree is recognized by its fruit" (Matthew 12:33). Well surprise, surprise -- there's an acting tenet that says, "A man's heart is reflected in his choices and actions." In other words, if I want to understand a man, all I have to do is look at his choices -- what he does and how he does it -- and I'll quickly understand what's in his heart. (I guess you could call it the gospel according to Stanislavski.)
So as an actor faced with the overwhelming, humbling, responsibility of "acting" Jesus, I got on my face before Him. I buried my nose in His Word. I bought every book I could find about Him and began a quest to know Him. I pieced through His every choice and every action. I knocked the familiarity off His words and dove into the dynamics and human realities of His every Gospel encounter.
Within those dynamics and realities I asked, "Why did Jesus do what He did in this situation and not all these other things He could have done? Why did he say this specific thing using these specific words? Why did he react this way and not that way? Why, why, why?
"And what does all this tell me about who Jesus was two thousand years ago? What does it tell me about His heart and His person, His nature and His ways? In other words, what kind of a Person was Jesus two thousand years ago? What was He like as a Man -- as He lived His daily life, faced His daily challenges, pursued His daily hopes and passions?
"And what were those hopes and passions? What was in His heart as opposed to what's in my heart, or anyone else's heart for that matter? I mean, Jesus was the most common male name in first-century Israel, yet His life was shockingly different from anyone who ever lived before or after Him. Where did those differences come from?"
At the bottom of all that asking and searching was one seminal question: "Who was this Man named Jesus?"
I can't begin to tell you what it's like to stand on a hillside surrounded by hundreds of people and belt out, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). I don't have words to describe how it feels to get down in the dirt with a filthy beggar, pull him into a Jesus-embrace, and whisper in his ear, "Be clean!" (Matthew 8:3).
I remember one scene where I was standing in a boat, a one-hundred-degree sun beating down on me and a onehundred-degree wind whipping at my robes. There were throngs lining the shore, and I remember the heartbreak that overcame me as I spoke the words of Jesus, "He who has ears, let him hear" (Matthew 13:9). Like never before, I was deeply aware of how many didn't have "ears," of how many more still don't "hear."
Then there was the day I "hung" on a cross. Reenacting the Cross is my most vivid memory. "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani...My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).
Through it all, if you'll allow me to phrase it this way, my mind was blown sky high. My breath was taken out of me. My heart was stopped and flipped up one side and down the other, bent and shaped and twisted and turned, formed and re-formed,
torn down and reconstructed,
refreshed and renewed,
enlightened and amazed.
I "met" Jesus like I never imagined anyone could. I discovered Him in ways and depths I never dreamed possible. I'm sure I'd heard it all before, but through this experience I truly began to "get it" -- His goodness, His care, His passion for a sinner like me.
There was another discovery too -- a discovery that had nothing to do with Jesus in relationship with me personally. It had nothing to do with values or principles or revelations of His Word. It had nothing to do with the gospel per se -- the good and glorious news of a God whose kingdom is forgiveness and grace.
It was quite simply, and oh so breathtakingly, the discovery of Him -- of who Jesus was two thousand years ago. It was an encounter with Jesus, the Man. It was a glimpse into His character, a peek into His person. It was a tiny, tiptoed journey through the wonder of His perfection in practical, day to-day human attributes -- male attributes -- as that maleness was manifested in His daily life.
Again -- maybe even more -- my mind was blown sky high. In Jesus I met a Man who was a Man like no other man has ever been or ever will be. I met faithfulness personified. I met walking, talking kindness and graciousness. I met goodness, strength, and conviction alive! I met
the summit of humbleness,
the pinnacle of gentleness,
the utter fulfillment of confidence and care.
I met a Man whose thick, calloused hands looked like ordinary hands, but oh, how His touch was anything but! I met a Man whose voice sounded like any ordinary voice, but oh, the truthfulness and passion that spilled from its tenor! I met a Man whose face was no different from any face in the crowd -- "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2) -- but oh, what you would have seen if you took the time to look deeply into His eyes!
I met a Man who literally was living, breathing manhood -- true manhood. In the sum of His ways, I met true masculinity defined and personified. I met the perfection of masculinity, the model, the ideal, the bar, the standard. I met the most masculine Man who ever walked the planet -- the Man named Jesus. Glory to His Name!
And in the process, if I can phrase it this way, whereas I'd loved Him before, now I "fell in love" with Him. I fell in love with this wonder of a Man who, completely aside from the largess of His deity, was just one incredibly wonderful Guy.
I was also very, very challenged. My understanding of masculinity was completely rewritten as I deeply realized who, as a man, Jesus desires me to be. In my behavior and priorities, in the ways I relate to people and the motivations of my heart, in what comes out of my mouth and what's behind my touch, in the choices I make and the desires that drive me, in my actions and reactions, in the deepest depths of my greatest longings and the highest heights of my hopes and dreams -- I am to be like Him.
It was as if, for the first time in my life, I understood what a man truly is, and I could see a clear picture of the man I could be. Philippians 2:5: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Romans 8:29: "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son." Matthew 5:48: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." John 13:15: "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."
It was as if Jesus were saying to me (and these are huge, huge words), "This is who I am -- and this is who you, too, can be!" Praise the Name of Jesus!
That's what The Character of a Man is all about. It's a book singularly and solely about Jesus, the Man. It's a book about who He was as a Man -- His character and personality, and most specifically, His masculine personality. It's a book that explores Him as a Man in the way He walked out His manhood. It's a book that establishes Him as the ultimate male role model -- the living, breathing definition of what a man truly is.
The Character of a Man is intended for everyone -- men, women, born again, not born again. I've tried to write broadly enough to speak to folks across the board, because if there's one thing that's certain, it's that all of us -- men and women, young and old, believer and unbeliever alike -- so need to know and understand Him more and more. Oh, how we need to deeply, deeply know Jesus!
At the same time, The Character of a Man specifically invites those of us who are men to stop being "just guys" and start being Jesus. It lays before us a road map of character -- His character. It opens the door to Jesus in us, operating through us, shaking our male trees free of the dead leaves and weak limbs of less-than-manly ways.
It wakes us up and challenges us to pursue being Him, living Him, shedding all that isn't Him, dressing ourselves as Him. It calls us to rise in the
that are available to all of us in and through Him.
It invites us, ultimately, to be fountains of Him, filled with Him, to "spill" Him through our manner and person into all the lives and relationships He's so graciously placed around us -- our wives or sweethearts, our sons and daughters, our partners and friends, our parents and coworkers. Again, "This is who I am," Jesus says through the pages that follow, "and this is who you, too, can be!"
So come -- let's discover Jesus. Let's explore who Jesus was two thousand years ago. Let's meet Him afresh and fall in love with Him anew. And for those of us who are men, let's discover what His manhood looks like. He was, and is, the perfection of a Man. Let's surrender our understanding of masculinity to the living God for a holy rewrite and overhaul. Let's discover what "masculine" truly means. Come, let's discover Jesus!
May I pray:
Dear Lord, oh Lord, how our hearts yearn for You! At the end of everything we can choose to chase in this world -- good things, even -- there is You. Yes, Lord, we just need You.
So we gather through the pages of this book, Lord, to find and discover You at deeper levels than ever before.
Oh, how that brings a smile to Your heavenly face!
And we know You are a God who rewards those who seek You. You respond with waterfalls of refreshing and understanding, guidance and care, healing and wholeness, purpose and value, focus and confidence, joy and fruitfulness. You respond with all the "goodnesses" that are You.
Lord Jesus, begin even now to reveal Yourself in all the fullness of who You are -- as a Man. Reach into our hearts and lives and touch us with Your love. Gird us up by Your righteous right hand and build us, Lord -- build us into You! Come, Lord Jesus, come!
In the precious Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen and amen.
The Character of a Man © 2006 by Bruce Marchiano
Excerpted from The Character of a Man by Bruce Marchiano Copyright © 2006 by Bruce Marchiano. Excerpted by permission.
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