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March 9, 2007 / beidson

Jack Bauer, Jesus Christ, and Judgment Day

My wife and I have recently become fans of FOX’s 24, a television drama about a government organization called CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) that defends America against terrorism. The lead character, Jack Bauer, is a renegade federal agent who almost always breaks the rules to get the bad guy. Despite numerous threats by his superiors to remove him from his position, his expertise in “getting the job done” manages to keep him in the mix, indiscretions be what they may.

The thing that makes Jack Bauer so likeable as a character is his passionate patriotism and fearlessness, even at risk to his own life. He is what every American man wants to be (character flaws withstanding): brave, charismatic and respected. He keeps his cool when the heat is on, and he never backs down, even when you think he has no other option. And to top it all off, he’s a good guy. He makes the hard decisions and he takes action. You root for him because he’s fighting for you, the average person sitting on yor couch in the security of your home. You want him to win because if he doesn’t, neither will you.

This reminds me of another man, Jesus Christ, who, of course, is not a fictional character. Unfortunately, many people wouldn’t make the connection with Jack Bauer because their idea of Jesus is very domesticated. What picture comes to your mind when you think of Jesus? Perhaps a bearded man with a flowing white robe and blue eyes. Or perhaps you picture the preschool Jesus: a gentle man with a blue sash over his shoulders and birds nesting in his hair. Considering the overall passivity of our culture, particularly concerning masculinity, it isn’t difficult to understand how we’ve come to have this picture of Jesus.

Yet the Bible gives us an entirely different picture of Jesus Christ. Contrary to the popular mild and meek image of Jesus, Scripture presents to us a fighting king, a conquerer. Jesus looks less like a person with whom you would want to cuddle and more like a warrior from whom you would want to run.

In Revelation 19:11-18, the Apostle John tells us:
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

What would people think if they heard this description of Jesus? Such violence! Such terror! Such gore! Yet this is Jesus Christ in all of his glory; the eternal King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Here is one who commands the angels of heaven, whose eyes are like fire, who judges and makes war against the kings of the nations. Yes, he is wearing a robe, but it is dipped in blood. Yes, there are birds around him, but they’re eating the flesh of the dead he has judged.

Sure, Jesus is kind and tender-hearted. Yes he loves little children, and according to Scripture, they loved to be around him. And of course he forgives. But he is Faithful and True, and from his mouth comes a sword of judgment against the enemies of God. He’s the true Jack Bauer, the true Counter Terrorist Unit, the one who protects us from our enemies and delivers us from evil.

The good news is that while we were God’s enemies, Christ died for us (Romans 5). He has reconciled us to the one who was against us. Christ came to save us, not from low self-esteem, or even from Satan. Jesus came to save us from God, who was against us. In Christ, God is for us (Romans 8). So then, who is against us, and should it cause us to fear? Jack Bauer may be able to defend innocent people in TV land, but here is a Man who destroys real enemies, who defends those who put their hope in him. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. And even Jack Bauer would fear this day of judgment.

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