Jesus is kind of a big deal. His followers (I being one of them) sometimes use Him as justification for beliefs that He didn't hold, or never even talked about. Here's a few.
1) Jesus likes parties, yes THOSE kinds of parties
First miracle, turned water into wine AFTER all the wine was already gone at a big wedding...they were plastered.
2 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
What happened to the wine? It wasn’t poured out on the ground, I’ll tell ya that much. They drank it, which leads me to believe there was some people who weren’t exactly sober, perhaps inebriated...in short, drunk.
4 “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
I encourage you to read that last verse again, while imagining the master of the banquet with a very slurred speech.
Now, some might argue that Jesus wouldn’t encourage people to sin, and I would agree. So here’s the question, is being not quite so sober during a wedding a sin? Well, what does the bible say about getting drunk?
11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[a] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
Notice it says “drunkard”, and not “drunk every once and a while.” There is a subtle but important difference between BEING a drunkard and getting drunk sometimes. A drunkard is someone who spends most of their time being drunk or pursuing getting drunk, this is where their identity is.
People at a wedding party celebrating two lives and families becoming one who are somewhat, or even very inebriated is a different story altogether. People celebrating in this way are not drunkards, but are simply people letting loose and having fun, hopefully safely. Were there some people at the wedding who WERE drunkards? Probably, sure. But most were probably not.
Jesus was asked to make more wine for people who were already drunk at a wedding and so he did what he did to bless the wedding party and the guests.
As far as I could find, there isn’t any verse that specifically says Jesus drank wine. Though, at the many house meetings, dinners, and passover meals he most likely would have had wine with his disciples and family, which was common practice for the Jewish culture.
For more information on this subject, take a look at this link:
2) Jesus never said the poor was lazy
There seems to be a big disconnect between Jesus' followers and what some of them think about the poor. Jesus talked a lot about the poor, I think we all know that. But here’s the thing, in NONE of the verses that Jesus talks about the poor did Jesus ever say the poor were lazy. He never once said they are the way they are because of their own life choices.
Admittedly, Proverbs does:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
And, to be fair to King Solomon, the author of most of the Proverbs, he's not wrong. Not working hard, not actively working on your situation in life and your ability to provide for your self will lead to poverty, this is true.
But it’s not as simple as all that, and I think Jesus understood this.
A lot of the causes of poverty has more to do with cultural and structural issues than anything else.
In the USNews.com article called "A Different Type of Poverty", when asked the questions "What is one cause of poverty?", journalist Sasha Abramsky answers:
“I would say the rampant inequality. The bottom 20 percent of the workforce has seen a real income decline by double-digit amounts since the Nixon years. The 1 percent at the top, or the 0.1 percent – or if you go even higher, the 0.01 percent, the billionaires – have seen their income increase by not just 1, 2 or 3 percent, but by thousands of percent. What it means is political access is concentrated at the top, and as soon as that happens you end up with a political class that doesn't respond to the needs of ordinary people.”
Another article, "Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It?" at NYTimes.com says:
“The first thing needed if we’re to get people out of poverty is more jobs that pay decent wages.”
A column at USAtoday.com called "A poverty, not education, crisis in U.S" writes:
“Poverty is the most relevant factor in determining the outcome of a person's educational journey, and in Finland, the child poverty rate is about 5%. In the U.S., the rate is almost five times as high. Unlike us, the Finns calculate the rate of poverty after accounting for government aid, but the differences remain substantial.”
And in an article on NBCnews.com says:
“The poll shows a significant shift in American opinion on the causes of poverty since the last time the question was asked, nearly 20 years ago. In 1995, in the midst of a raging political debate about welfare and poverty, less than a third of poll respondents said people were in poverty because of issues beyond their control. At that time, a majority said that poverty was caused by "people not doing enough." Now, nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, attribute poverty to factors other than individual initiative.”
In the TED talk "The rise of the new global super-rich", Chrystia Freeland discusses wealth inequality. In it, she says:
"Let me give you a few numbers to place what's happening.In the 1970s, the One Percentaccounted for about 10 percent of the national incomein the United States.Today, their share has more than doubledto above 20 percent.But what's even more strikingis what's happening at the very tippy topof the income distribution.The 0.1 percent in the U.S.today account for more than eight percentof the national income.They are where the One Percent was 30 years ago.Let me give you another number to put that in perspective,and this is a figure that was calculated in 2005by Robert Reich,the Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.Reich took the wealth of two admittedly very rich men,Bill Gates and Warren Buffett,and he found that it was equivalent to the wealthof the bottom 40 percent of the U.S. population,120 million people."
Jon Stewart discusses the wealth inequality quite a bit, take a watch.
Perhaps one of the smartest and most active people discussing the wealth disparity in the US is Robert Reich:
Extended Interview Part 1
Extended Interview Part 2
Robert Reich is coming out with a movie called Inequality for All:
Now, are there individuals who take advantage of assistance and just kind of slide by? Sure, I’ve met a few. But most people in poverty would prefer not to be there.
Fixing the poverty issue and discussing the causes and addressing these issues is definitely important, but that’s not what we’re talking about.
The point here is that Jesus never blamed the poor for their situation in life, but encouraged them and loved them.
Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
3) But, he did not hate the rich either
He loved Zacchaeus
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
In the Jewish culture, or indeed, many cultures 2,000 years ago, it was a VERY big deal to go to someone's home and to eat with them. It meant that you were close enough to trust them, it meant that you were family or close friends. It might even mean that you approve of almost everything they do. So when Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ home, a wealthy tax collector, this was seen by the Pharisees as Him approving of what Zacchaeus had done. But this wasn’t the case, instead it was simply Jesus wanting to develop a friendship with him, to learn more about his story, and to tell him to change his ways.
As a middle class citizen, it’s easy for me to villainize the 1%, those who have more than me, who have more money, more wealth, more influence and more power than me. But this is not Christ’s way of approaching those who are wealthy.
True, he did have the famous line: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, than for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” But this doesn’t mean this is impossible. Here’s a little history lesson for everybody. The “eye of the needle” that Jesus is referring to isn’t necessarily an actual needle used in sewing or stitching. It is almost certainly referring to a door to Nazareth. You can see examples of this door at Biblepicturegallery.com here, and a blog here.
The eye is the small door for people, called “the eye”. The larger doors were only opened for carts or pack animals. Camels are notoriously cranky animals, trying to get them to do anything they don’t want to do is almost impossible and will likely end in them spitting in your face. Therefor, if the larger doors weren’t open (at night they kept them closed for security), you would have to try to get your camel, who is likely carrying things on its back, to bend down through the eye of the needle door.
Now, back to the 1%. Is it ok to have issues with inequality and lack of upward mobility? OF COURSE, we as citizens and as Christians should always be trying to make the place we live in better. But this doesn’t mean we need to villainize those that are different than us, even if some of them might be taking advantage of a system that helps them profit by not paying their workers a living wage.
4) He bent the truth a bit
This is definitely a bit controversial, I almost didn’t want to write about this one. But I felt that it was important to bring up.
“3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.”
Maybe not on purpose, but either way you look at it, he did tell his disciples one thing and then did something else.
As a Christian, we can’t call this a lie because then the spotless lamb is not quite so spotless. Then he would have died for his owns sins instead of ours, and we know he was sinless. (Faith has it’s own circular reasoning, don’t you love it?!)
The point here is that Jesus told a fib or a white lie. He didn’t outright lie to his friends, he just said one thing and did something else. Perhaps he didn’t even intend to do that. Maybe he said “yeah, you guys go ahead, I’m gonna just hang here with God.” But then, while doing the God thing, God said “yeah, I actually want you to go out there and see what the people are up to. Just don’t go with your disciples, just go by yourself.”
Ponder that for a moment. If his disciples found out, they would be PISSED! Think if a group of your friends decided to invite you to a big party, and your best friend said “nah, I’m gonna just stay in tonight.” But then, you see them at that big party later! What a jerk!
Or maybe not, maybe they just freakin’ changed their mind and they didn’t mean to mislead you.
What’s the point?
If Jesus can change his mind about making plans with friends, then I think we should be able to give our friends some wiggle room in what they tell us and forgive them if they change their plans on us too. This doesn’t just apply to changing plans, of course. Perhaps we need to be less sticklers for the rules and give people more wiggle room, more forgiveness. This brings me to my next point.
5) He wasn’t conservative
The law of Moses said that Jews in Jesus’ time could kill an adulterous woman. This was considered not only allowed, but preferred reaction from “good” followers of God. However, when Jesus happened upon a woman about to be stoned to death for breaking the law, he saved her. Not because she wasn’t guilty under the Moses’ law, not because they didn’t have the right to under Moses’ law, but because Jesus cared for her. Some could even say he was an early feminist fighting for equality and women’s rights.
53 Then they all went home,8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.Now what do you say?”6 They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stoneat her.”8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
There is some question whether or not this story actually happened as it does not appear in the earliest, reliable manuscripts.
Though it was part of the oral history and was finally canonized, so perhaps it really happened.
But either way, this isn’t the only story where Jesus bends the rules acting much less conservative than the religious leaders of his time.
He performed many miracles on the Sabbath, which the religious leaders of the time were VERY upset about. Apparently, the Gospels list seven miracles he did on the Sabbath (seven is a very important number in the Bible, it means completeness).
1) Jesus Heals a Lame Man by the Pool of Bethesda - John 5:1-18
2) Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit - Mark 1:21-28
3) Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-law - Mark 1:29-31
4) Jesus Heals a Man with a Deformed Hand - Mark 3:1-6
5) Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind - John 9:1-16
6) Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman - Luke 13:10-17
7) Jesus Heals a Man with Dropsy - Luke 14:1-6
I got this list from here: http://icogsfg.org/sab-7mir.html
My point here is that Jesus wasn’t a “good Jew” in the eyes of the Jewish leaders. Not just because he both claimed to be the son of God, and be God himself, but also simply because in the eyes of the religious leaders, he broke the religious law...because he healed people on a day he wasn’t supposed to.
This shouldn’t just be viewed in the narrow circumstance of performing miracles on a specific day, but should also be viewed as applying to the general idea of just simply relaxing on the religious rules and regulations and focusing more on a relationship with God.
6) He wasn’t liberal
He said that even hating was the same as murder.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
And said that lust is the same as adultery.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
In this way, Jesus made it even more difficult to follow the “rules”. He made the standard even harder, more conservative. In this way, Jesus was not a liberal. (Of course, to believers, this only means we need Jesus all the more, but I digress)
7) He swore
Foul language, cursing, swearing, dirty language is definitely something to be avoided. You don’t sound all that intelligent and you might offend someone. I swear a bit and I definately need to work on it.
Proverbs has a few things to say about using words that might offend.
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
But “crooked speech” is never listed as a straight up sin in the Bible, just something to avoid generally.
And...Jesus totally swore.
Matthew: 23-37 (excerpts)
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
16 “Woe to you, blind guides!
33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers!
In Jesus’ time calling someone a fool, hypocrite, serpent or brood of vipers is pretty darn serious, it’s an extremely potent insult. Think about the serpent reference. Who do we know in the Bible that was a serpent? The devil, lucifer, Satan, etc...
Yeah...Jesus was really upset with the Pharisees, the religious leaders in his time. He straight up swore at them for what they were doing. But keep all this in context and look at WHY he was so upset.
These aren’t people that scratched their car accidentally, or people who didn’t agree that his favorite movie was the Iron Giant (though, it probably was because it IS the best movie ever). These are people purposefully holding onto power and standing in the way of people who want a better relationship with God. So yeah, go ahead and swear, but if we’re following Christ’s example, only swear at terrible religious leaders. I can think of a few ;)
8) He wouldn't like your political party (or mine)
He wasn’t political, even though he could have been.
The Old Testament foretells a savior coming to reign with God’s power.
14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
15 “‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it[c] will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
17 For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel,...
There are many other verses that talk about Christ’s coming in the Old Testament, feel free to take a look here:
But the bottom line is that the people who believed in the God of Moses, the Jews, were looking for and hoping for a savior. But not just a savior from sin or a religious leader, but a political leader, someone who would save them from oppression. During Jesus’ time it was likely that faithful Jews were hoping that a Savior would come to bring them out of Roman political subjugation, but He didn’t.
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Jesus was very specific about the kingdom that he was leading, and it wasn’t ours.
Jesus tells us to pay taxes:
23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
I’m sure you’ve read that before, but let’s look at it from a different perspective. Not only is Jesus telling them to pay taxes to the political leaders, but very shitty leaders. Caesar not only persecuted the Jews, but later KILLED christians.
“Christian tradition and secular historical sources hold Nero as the first major state sponsor of Christian persecution”
So, not only was Jesus NOT a political leader, but told us (his followers and anyone else who would listen to Him) to pay taxes to someone who is so terrible that they would KILL them. Now, think about YOUR political party. Now think about THEIR political party and how much you think they suck and are terrible for our country. Are they as bad as Nero who killed Christians and other people just for fun? Probably not.
Jesus never intended to start a political party, never wanted to, and most importantly, doesn’t need to. Biblically, his kingdom is WAY the hell bigger and more important than the little petty things we argue about when discussing politics. Are politics important? Absolutely! Should we, as citizens in a country that gives us the amazing freedom to express our opinions vote our conscience for things we believe in, informed by our faith and how we interpret the Bible? Sure. But don’t for a second think that Jesus is on YOUR side of any political debate, because...He’s not. He’s on His side, and we are invited find out what that means.
9) Jesus wasn’t white!
However, he was Jesus was Jewish, born to a Jewish father, Joseph and Jewish mother Mary. He was a Jew born in the Middle East. So, he probably had brown hair, brown eyes and darker skin.
When Christianity became big in the Roman empire and later, the depiction of Jesus as a white dude became popular...because that’s who was following him in Europe, white dudes...and their wives and daughters.
So, this is actually quite simple. People don’t like facts, we like to lie to ourselves to make ourselves feel good about who we are. I tell myself I’m way more attractive than I really am because then I walk around like I’m the shit, strutting around like I own the place like I’m a 8 or 9 on a scale from 1 to 10. But really, i’m probably a 6 or 7 on a scale from 1 to 20. (It’s the mullet, buck teeth and creepy smile).
Almost all fo the depictions of Jesus during the Renaissance era in Europe show him as white. Not because they had any evidence to say that he was white, but because they were paying a crap ton of money to have this iconic religious leader painted, usually for a church.
Take a look at them here:
Xenophobia, the fear of a “race” that is different from your own, was big back then. Well, it’s pretty big right now actually (the more things change, the more things stay the same, eh?).
If you were a white dude with tons of money, you would obviously pay someone to paint a WHITE Jesus, because that reminds you of you, and that makes you feel good.
It also does NOT remind you of other people that don’t look like you, so you don’t have to be reminded of them.
I like movies, love them a little too much probably. I really liked Mel Gibson’s Passion of The Christ, not only because it was a really good film, but Jesus was played by Jim Caviezel. He’s not Jewish, he’s actually Slovic and Irish. But he has dark hair, dark eyes and a dark complexion, similar to people who live in the Middle East.
Courtesy of IMDB.com, Here’s what Jim Caviezel looks like when not playing Jesus:
Contrast this with the recent Son of God movie. Jesus was played by Diogo Morgado. Yes, his hair was dark and so was his eyes, but he is clearly a white dude. This not to take away from his acting abilities, he may well be very good (In full disclosure, I have yet to see the movie Son of God).
Here’s what he looks like when not playing Jesus:
Also...If you accept that the parts of the Old Testiment book Isaiah fortells the coming of Jesus the Christ, then it's the only book that talks about his physical appearance.
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”
Of course Hollywood wouldn't hire an unattractive guy to play Jesus, but it would be more accurate.
When fear of the “other”, and misunderstanding of other peoples cultural beliefs and customs, fear of people that look different than us is so potent now, I truly believe that one of the most important things that we as Christians can do for the culture that we live in is not only to admit what Jesus looked like, but embrace the fact that he probably looked closer to those who attacked us on 9-11 than our white, european complexion.
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