The Masked Man5 min read

They stopped making the TV show a year before I was born, but reruns continued long enough for me to remember watching The Lone Ranger. His silver bullets, his calls of “Hi-Yo, Silver” to his trusty steed, his native American sidekick Tonto who affectionately called him “Kemo Sabe,” have all become legendary. But in more recent years it seems to me that the “lone ranger” is almost always a derogatory reference to someone who tries to go it alone in life and doesn’t feel a need for assistance from anyone else. That’s unfortunate, because the character of the Lone Ranger is really quite an exemplary person. He was clearly not trying to draw attention to himself or to win the praise of people. He just wanted to do the right thing and was willing to risk his own interests for the sake of helping those in need. Whenever he would come to the rescue and save the day, in the end he would just ride off into the sunset with anonymity such that people would question, “Who was that masked man?”

Jesus was rather like this too during much of His earthly ministry. Many people, marveling at His wisdom and understanding, would ask, “How did this man get such learning?” (John 7:15). Seeing His miracles, even His own disciples would exclaim, “Who is this Man?” (Matthew 8:27). By the power of the Holy Spirit, they eventually knew who He is, and so do we. With St. Peter we also declare that “He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16); He is “our God and Savior” (2 Peter 1:1). But in addition, Jesus is also always an amazing example for us to follow of selfless sacrificial service. For this reason, St. Paul exhorts us as Christ’s followers to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3–5).

There are many masked men and women these days who are heroes. They’re not necessarily lone rangers in the sense that they are working independently of others. But they are like the lone ranger—and like Jesus—in that they are often putting themselves at risk in order to selflessly give and serve others in need. I’m thinking, of course, of the medical personnel of every skill and discipline who are working at hospitals and clinics, nursing homes, and every kind of senior living facility. I’m thinking of those essential workers who are in grocery stores and pharmacies, and in so many other aspects of industry who must continue to risk being contaminated by others who carry the virus in order to keep life going for the rest of us.

Their mask is not over their eyes, but over their nose and mouth. It is indeed a badge of honor and courage that we can all wear these days not simply in our own personal defense but in deference to our neighbor. The CDC advises the use of cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. We certainly pray that this is not something that needs to be done for long. But it is something that we have to do for now, not because we’re forced to by the government, but because we choose to out of love for our neighbor.

As much as it pains us deeply that we cannot gather together as Christians to worship God in His house and to receive the Lord’s Supper; as much as we wish that our Bible classes didn’t have to be over Zoom meetings; as much as we grieve the loss of the celebratory events that we’re missing out on with our friends and extended family; now is not a time for us defy the directions of our government or medical science in the interest of proving our religious freedom or exercising our Christian liberty. Now is a time for us Christians to demonstrate that we are called to love our neighbor unselfishly and sacrificially in the pattern of our Lord Jesus Christ. The precautions that we take to wash our hands, keep our distance, and wear our masks are in fact a witness to the world that we Christians care about other people.

The Gospel of Luke has a wonderful account of the risen Jesus meeting up with two dejected disciples as they walked on the road to Emmaus. For some reason, they did not recognize the resurrected Jesus at first (perhaps on account of their distraction, or maybe the appearance of His glorified body). But their hearts burned within them as He opened up the Scriptures for them to see that the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Messiah was actually all according to God’s plan for our eternal salvation. When they did finally realize who He was, He vanished from their sight like the Lone Ranger. But that personal encounter with their risen Savior moved them to go tell others that they had seen the Lord. May our encounters with masked heroes move us not only to express our gratitude to them but also give us opportunity to tell the Good News of our lone Savior, Jesus Christ.

Photo (c) eranicle/iStock

Subscribe to Blog Button

About the Author

Rev. Dr. Paul R. Naumann currently serves as Senior Pastor at St. Michael Lutheran Church in Portage, Mich. During his over thirty-five years of ministry, Naumann has been active in positions in the Circuit, District, and Synod, working especially in the areas of Youth Ministry, Outreach, Worship, Campus Ministry, and Small Group Ministry. He has been published in various periodicals and has been a speaker at a number of seminars and workshops.

More by This Author

Terrence Hynes - April 27, 2020

Just understand that a cloth-only face mask doesn’t protect anyone. The wearer, or anyone else. Don’t believe that, just put one on and see how easy it is to blow out a candle. Can’t do that if you add a paper filter or wear any kind of mask other than cloth-only.

I appreciate this article, and just want to clarify.

Thank you for your comment. We have made some changes since the publish date and added a CDC link that may be helpful to our readers.

Paul Appold - April 27, 2020

Really a great article. Thanks!

Stuart - April 27, 2020

I must disagree with your premise that not wearing a face mask, whether mandated by government or not, is being selfish. There are a number of factors to consider with regard to mask wearing. I would suggest that asserting statistics about contact/transmission scenarios is to be avoided when so much about this virus is still undetermined.
Those who work in high risk/high personal contact environments should take all applicable hygiene/safety precautions. For the rest of us – if we are washing hands, cleaning contact surfaces routinely and practicing social distancing – wearing masks is statistically insignificant, which is why CDC doesn’t require it. In some cases, our government & their “experts” are crafting policy out of fear …. or worse.
Mindful – Helpful – Discerning —- but not Selfish or Fearful.

Thank you for your comment! We went back to the author and found some of the statistical information that he used at the time was later found to be false. We have since then made the changes necessary and added a CDC link that may be helpful to the reader. Thanks again!

Barb Rudick - April 28, 2020

Thank you. Great comparisons, great lesson.
Barb Rudick