Who Is “The Man?”
2 Samuel 11:1-12:15
People love to say, “You’re the man!” or its colloquial version, “You da man!” The idea behind this is celebrating some (usually male) person who has done—or is capable of doing—something extraordinary, some feat of prowess that sets him apart from his fellows and makes him special. Many times it’s said in jest, a friendly mocking of someone we care about but want to tease a little. Often it’s said in realization of something so stupendous that we can think of nothing else to say.
There are two interesting usages of this phrase (or something like it) in the Bible. They present different interpretations of the saying, and at the same time tell us something about ourselves. Two rather long Scripture passages will help us see the two contrasting sides.
David should have gone to war with his troops. It was the king’s responsibility to lead them into battle, but for some reason, this time he stayed at home. Because he was not where he should have been, he got into trouble. Walking on his rooftop one day, he saw a beautiful woman bathing. Even though she was married to another man, David had Bathsheba brought to the palace and slept with her. She became pregnant. In order to cover up his first sin, David had her husband killed, then married her.
God sent the prophet Nathan to challenge David. Even kings have to listen when God’s messenger speaks. Nathan told David a parable in which a rich man took a sheep from a poor man to serve his guests for supper. David became outraged and asked, “Who is this evil person? Tell me that I may punish him!” Nathan replied, “You are the man!”
We can only guess at David’s mortification and humiliation when he was confronted with his sin, but there was no easy way out for him. He had sinned, and God would hold him accountable. David would be punished, but because of God’s promise to make his descendants a royal line forever, God would allow him to live.
Fast forward several hundred years. Jesus has come to earth, fulfilling the prophecies of a Messiah and also God’s promise to David. One has been born of David’s line who will save his people from the sin which has corrupted them. He lives quietly for most of his life, then, at about age thirty, he begins a three-year ministry. This ministry attracts a lot of attention, good and bad. The people love him, but the religious rulers hate him because he exposes their self-serving interpretation of God’s law. Finally, on trumped-up charges, these leaders have him arrested and arrange for him to be put to death by the cruelest method their Roman allies can devise.
See him hanging on the cross. Hear him as he forgives those who put him there. Hear him finally give up the ghost and die. Hear someone standing at the foot of the cross say, “Behold the Man!”
We know that Jesus died that we might have abundant life. We know it was our sin that put him on that cross. We know God could have easily said to each of us, “You are the man!” and held us responsible for our sin. God could have exacted the death penalty from us. But that was not God’s plan. God had long before determined that we would be redeemed.
Today God says to us, “Behold the Man—the One I sent to restore you to me. See him as he hangs on that cross. Hear him as he forgives you for putting him there. Behold him, the Man of Sorrows, your Savior, my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”