What do Jesus Christ and Yosemite Sam have in common?
Survivalists might answer that both packed guns. Atheists might say that both are fictional characters. Mormons would likely suggest that both lived in the USA. The politically correct may say that they were both far too masculine and assertive. Dwarves might claim that they were very short. Health and wealth preachers would think their commonality was a penchant for gold.
Sorry folks – you’re all wrong!
Yosemite Sam, in one of the best motion pictures of all time, appeared with Bugs Bunny in “Bugs Bunny Rides Again”, made in 1947 and published the next year by Merrie Melodies. It was created by the best cartoon team ever, never to be equaled, headed by director Friz Freleng *
Sam makes his dramatic entrance to a wild-west saloon by walking under the swing doors (since he’s so small). Everyone inside, except Bugs of course, gasps in terror “It’s Yosemite Sam!” In a version slightly altered from the original, Sam yells out:
“Yeah! Yosemite Sam – the roughest, toughest he-man stuffest as ever crossed the Rio Grande! AN’ I AIN’T NO MAMBY PAMBY! Now alla you skunks clear outa here!”
All except Bugs flee in every direction.
Here’s the answer to my question: neither Yosemite Sam nor Jesus Christ were namby-pambies! The Oxford Dictionary defines “namby pamby” thus:
“…lacking strength or courage; feeble”.
Plenty of unbelievers, and even a large number of people in the church world, see Jesus Christ as some kind of a “yes-man”; a weak-willed character who just smiled kindly at people and made them fish sandwiches; an effeminate and withdrawn person who wished that everyone would just get along; an open-minded liberal who thought that everyone should be able to do their thing without so much as a frown from anyone else.
While he was, and is loving and kindly, and while he does wish everyone would get along, and while he does understand our weaknesses and our passions, there is no “yes man” about him:
“You are in error because you do not know the scriptures” (i.e. “you’re wrong!” Matthew 22:29 NIV).
Jesus has a very clearly defined view of right and wrong, and he’s not afraid to declare it:
“But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:5).
Jesus is unafraid to declare to the world just what he thinks:
“Woe to you, blind guides!” (Matthew 23:16).
“You snakes! You brood of vipers!” (23:33 This phrase is not unlike Sam’s “varmint!”)
And Jesus is unafraid to declare to the world what its destiny is without him:
“How will you escape being condemned to hell?” (23:33b);
“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you it will be more tolerable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11: 23-24).
In a display of strength, conviction, confidence, will and resolve which would have made Yosemite Sam pop his buttons with pride, and with an entrance every bit as dramatic as Sam’s to the saloon, Jesus Christ entered the temple in Jerusalem, after first making a whip for the job:
“…and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the money coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves, he said, ‘Get out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:14-17).
Ultimately, Christ will re-enter our world to put down his enemies, in such a way as would make our Sam – and everyone else – wilt in fear and submission:
“…the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24: 29-30).
Believers, this is not a time to shrink into our spiritual shells and hope that the world will turn out the way we want it to: it’s time to confidently stand up for what we claim to believe. I’m not suggesting being rude or aggressive or violent, but I am saying what Paul said so eloquently:
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline”.
*Those of you under 30 or 40 may be unfortunate enough not to have been introduced to Sam, so there’s a link below to a little video of our hero. This is the original clip of the saloon entrance (without “namby pamby”) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eo0OY8GOuc