Jesus could be kind of a jerk at times.

Jesus could be kind of a jerk at times. I’m reading Mark, and more times than I can count, when someone asks him a perfectly legitimate question (Jesus, how the hell did you just do that? Jesus, are you your own dad? Jesus, do you happen to know what time of day it is?) he basically snaps at them and rolls his eyes and implies they’re an idiot. Only then does he help them out with an answer. Granted, the poor guy was more overworked and underpaid than a Walmart employee and nobody would leave him the hell alone, so I can understand his annoyance and it’s actually kind of endearing, like watching Archie Bunker tell Edith to shaddap for the thousandth time, but it sure is enlightening to be absorbing a fuller portrait of the all-too-human Jesus the Christ, Son of God, healer of my broken soul. Praise be to the Holy Curmudgeon.

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14 thoughts on “Jesus could be kind of a jerk at times.

  1. Pingback: My First Sermon | The Cynic Testifies

  2. the “all too human” side of Jesus. This post is amazing! Every time I read the gospels and ask questions, I often start the human side of Jesus. It’s better than starting it with his other side..

    • I hear you there. I think that right there is the main draw of Christianity for its two billion adherents. That’s what makes it unique. The chief deity is a human through and through. To put the earthly Christ on a pedestal — as so many do — is to rob him of his appeal. So instead, I acknowledge his humanity and thus grow my appreciation for his Transcendent Holiness.

      • yesterday we have discussed in our group about these things that Christians try to resist because of the potential threat of losing the congregation. Glad our pastor is courageous enough to present Christ as a human…and like you, we appreciated Christ even more.

  3. Have you read the Reza Aslan book? I just downloaded it and haven’t gotten to it yet. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    • I haven’t read it but would be interested to do so. I might very well get around to it, but you will probably get to it sooner than I do. If you do, please tell me your thoughts on it as well.

        • Ooh, thanks for your question. Yes, I want to share the precise verse, actually verses. I’ll get them for you. For now I’ll just say I got this impression from reading Mark. There were a few occurrences of people coming up to Jesus and saying or requesting something, and then him rebuking them. But the important message I wanted to get across is that after he rebukes them, he usually heals them or sets them on the right path. The main point being, hey, maybe Jesus could come off rude, but it was always coming from a place of unconditional love.

    • Andreas, I still owe you the verses from Mark that inspired me to post my thoughts here. Can I ask for a forbearance on that? There are too many examples to count, and it is daunting for me to try and enumerate them. The best answer I can give (to fulfill my promise) is that as I was reading Mark, I was seeking signs of Jesus’ humanity — the gentle and the rough-hewn alike. The classic example of his human emotions is when he stormed the temple and whipped the merchants out of his Father’s house, but there are examples everywhere in which he expressed gruff emotions. I find that makes Jesus more accessible, more relatable; I hope it is clear that I used slang not to diss the savior, but only to accentuate my appreciation for all aspects of the Christ.

      • Hi Will, my apologizes for my lateness. To clear up the matter, it’s not so much with your observation, but your wording. I’ve also found similar passages when Jesus sounds—how I might describe as—a bit rude or maybe nonchalant. But, you’re totally right. I see the humanity in Jesus by this also.

        Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman would be my best example. In Matthew’s gospel we find a woman from the Tyre & Sidon region begging Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus seems to turn this woman away, as she might expect from any other Jew. However, Jesus’ disinclination doesn’t curtail the Canaanite at all. And after referring to her as a dog she answers right back with a shrewd reply, “even dogs eat the crumbs from the master’s table.” This cunning remark seems to change Jesus’ whole attitude. He replies “Oh Woman, great is your faith!” As an afterthoughts we might say to ourselves: Jesus could have been more polite to this woman. But in my rationality, I think Jesus wanted the audience to see what this woman’s faith was made of.

        It reminds me of the scene in the 1971 film ‘Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory’ when Mr. Wonka explains the rules to Grandpa Joe, that Charlie was disqualified from winning the lifetime supply of chocolate by stealing Fizzy Lifting Drinks and contaminating the room. For the first time in the movie you see a harsh side to Mr. Wonka (who’s played by Gene Wilder). However, when Grandpa Joe and Charlie are just about to leave Charlie does something noble. He gives the Gobstopper back to Mr. Wonka. And as we find, this was the turning point of the final moments in the film. Wonka whispers, “So shines a good deed in a weary world. Charlie! My Boy… You won!”

        • Indeed. I can be a foulmouthed S.O.B. at times. In this case, my word choices are a reflection of me, not of Jesus.

          I liked your example in Matthew! Your explanation makes a lot of sense, so I thank you for taking the time to share it. The audience was bigoted. For Jesus to reflect that bigotry is to establish rapport with that audience. Then he turns bigotry on its head, showing that faith overcomes bigotry. It is a parable made flesh, I would say.

          Your Willy Wonka example made me smile.

          Also: I finally found a more concrete example of exactly what I’m referring to. It appears in Luke 9:37-43, but it also appeared in Mark, I believe. It might also appear in Matthew and John, I don’t know. Here’s the passage, copied from Bible Gateway’s ESV entry:

          37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

          So he heals the boy, but that little comment right there sounds like Jesus whining and complaining and sounding very condescending: O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? I mean come on, was that really necessary, Jesus? Does that teach us anything? The only thing I can imagine anyone learning from that remark is that Jesus is sick and tired of everyone’s ignorant bullshit and that we’re a burden on him. Hey, who knows: Something could have gotten lost in translation. He might have been ironic. You know how sarcasm and irony and humor sometimes don’t come across in print and online? Same thing there: Maybe Jesus was smiling and winking when he said it. We don’t know. But taken as-is, it sounds pretty douchey petty.

          • Cool passage. I recently read Mark’s account (9:14-29); which has a few other details. So Jesus is returning from His transfiguration on Mount Tabor, witnessed by only His select disciples, Peter, James, and John. Jesus left the other disciples in the village. Upon their return they find them surrounded by a crowd and there’s an argument. In Mark’s rendition Jesus asks, “What are you arguing about?”(v. 16)

            A man answers: Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes ridged; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so. -vv.17-18

            Okay, so, now we know what all the commotion was about. This father—and others—was distressed with the disciples’ failed exorcism and somehow broke out into civil unrest. Here are a few reasons I think we see a frustrated Jesus. 1) While everyone is fighting, this boy is still in torment. 2) Even though Jesus is infinite in wisdom and capability, His disciples were incompetent in faith, unable to expel the spirit. 3) The father himself doubts the power of God (v. 22-23), which is the quickest way to vex the Christ (i.e. Matt. 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 22:29; Mar. 12:24; Luke 12:28). Lastly, I think the fact that this all resulted in more negativity was even more disappointing to Jesus, since He wasn’t even gone that long (cf. Exo. 32). Yet, like you already said, I think this is another classic example of his human emotion. As a human with personality there are things that upset him. I think Christ Jesus still says that today, referring to His church (us), that is.

            Shalom Shalom,
            -Andreas

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