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Gentle Jesus, meek and mild? Really?

March 11, 2012

This morning I read about Jesus clearing the traders from the temple in Jerusalem and it made me think of “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” by Charles Wesley, and particularly the verse:

Lamb of God, I look to Thee,
Thou shalt my example be;
Thou art gentle, meek, and mild,
Thou wast once a little child.

And then to “Once in Royal David’s City” by Cecil Frances Alexander and the verse I hated as a child:

And through all
His wondrous childhood,
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly mother,
In whose gentle arms He lay.
Christian children all should be,
Mild, obedient, good as He.

I like that carol but I still hate that verse. I still prefer to miss it out. It is the wrong model for childhood. Children shouldn’t be encouraged to be mild, they should be vibrant, alive, inquisitive. And yes, naughty at times.

But worse still, far worse, this picture has nothing at all to do with Jesus. Would you call the Jesus who made a whip and attacked the market traders in the Temple, timid, meek, mild or even obedient to his elders? Of course not!

We know little of Jesus’ childhood but the little we do know says the same. Just remember Jesus as a boy in Jerusalem, staying behind in the Temple and telling his parents off when they came back for him, saying, “Where did you expect me to be?”

If you turn to the apocryphal stories of Jesus’ childhood we again get a picture of a boy who was far from meek and mild.

So forget that Victorian invention, at least I think it started then. Forget that invention and look again at who the Bible says Jesus is.

Not meek and mild but tough and strong. Loving, loyal but with a real temper at times. A temper that was sparked by hypocrisy and by all that corrupts what is good and holy. The Jesus who says that someone who leads the innocent astray would be better off with a mill-stone around their neck and drowned!

The Jesus who went around Palestine, a land infested with bandits, with armed followers. There’s no mention in the Bible of Jesus and his followers being attacked. So I suspect it was clear that Jesus and friends were not an easy target. That they were the sort of men that were best left alone.

Jesus was a no nonsense sort of guy. The sort of man that men and women wanted to be with; the sort of man people trusted, even when they didn’t understand his teaching. Jesus was a man who saw through lies and half-truths, to get to the truth, good or bad.

Now that is the Jesus I aught to be getting to know a little better this lent. The Jesus that won’t let me get away with the half-truths I tell myself about who I am. The Jesus who, if I stay with him, will help me to uncover all the things that stop me being holy like him, honest like him, strong like him, and even angry like him at the injustices in this world, and angry at holy things profaned.

Then when  Jesus uncovers all that I keep hidden. Then I find out still more about him. I learn that he is loving and forgiving. Loyal, even when I am not. The sort of Saviour I want to be close to.

So I hope to use the discipline of lent to learn more about the Jesus whom I worship as God’s Son. Learn about Jesus, and allow Jesus to draw me in; to heal me of all that is wrong inside. 

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for commenting on my post.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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