I Probably Shouldn’t Say This . . .

OK, I just want to say at the outset that what I am about to say is not in anyway meant to insult Jesus. I would swear it to you, but Jesus says not to swear on anything. But you should know that that’s how much I mean it when I say that I’m not insulting Jesus. So don’t go taking this all the wrong way . . . But . . .

Did you know that pretty much everything Jesus said could totally come out the mouth of the sort of drunken, bitter man who yells at people at the bar?* Before you get mad, just stop and think of something Jesus said that you can remember off the top of your head. Go ahead. Do it. Think of something else he said. It’s true, isn’t it? I mean, I haven’t done an intense reading of the gospels with this idea in mind, but I’m still pretty sure this is a thing.

Now, I’m not at all saying that Jesus was a drunken bitter man who yelled at people at bars. But isn’t it interesting that you could put the entire Sermon on the Mount into the mouth of some drunk, embittered wise man in a bar and it would totally be believable. You couldn’t put those words in the mouth of Herod or a congressman and get anyone to believe they meant it.

Or maybe Jesus was a bit of a comedian. Maybe he said, “blessed are the poor” and the crowd roared with laughter.

Maybe he was a specialist in the absurd. He could tell stories about a woman throwing a party because she found her coin and people would laugh knowingly at the irony of it.

In my head and in the movies and at church, Jesus words are always spoken in a flat, peaceful sort of way with an edge of what was suppose to be authority. But that’s not how people speak. And Jesus was a real, live people. But we’ve lost the tone. The words go flat and lose their power. We hear words of revolution and comfort and bitterness and humor and they all come out just the same. We can rely on scholars to help us tell one from the other.

But what we really need to do, I suspect, is to imagine the words coming out of a drunk guy. Or a smart ass. Or a person smiling as they die.

Imagine that Jesus’ words were your words. Could you really say with conviction that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied without being bitter or angry or mocking?

When you give Jesus’ words personality, you start to discover that after all this time, they still have power after all. They bring you up short with the power of “I never saw it like that before”. They take you to a place where you could understand why the drunk man is so bitter and why the people laugh and encourage him to keep sharing his thoughts. For entertainment if nothing else.

It starts to dawn on you that Jesus couldn’t just say these things without understanding at a deep level what they mean. Because they aren’t easy things to say honestly when you’re not drunk or bitter or cynical or asleep or laughing. But Jesus said them and meant them.

In fact, it turns out that after 2000 years, his words can still change a person and how they see the world. Or at least that’s how it’s been for me. Maybe you’re too hung up on me conflating Jesus with an angry drunk guy to find out for yourself. 😉

*I did not come up with this pseudo-blasphemous idea of Jesus as a bitter drunk guy, btw. Someone else pointed it out to me but I can’t remember who for the life of me. But they were right – it does work!

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3 thoughts on “I Probably Shouldn’t Say This . . .

  1. I think its okay Rebecca to say that. When I was a new christian i used to read the words of Jesus in quite a harsh or mocking way. When i realised I was doing it, I was reminded of all the movies where the voice of the Lord is very deliberate and commanding and possibly a bit eerie. So i changed my inner voice a bit to a more gently and loving tone. But, i know what you mean. One of my favorites is Luke 9v41 when he called them a wicked and perverse generation and seems to moan “how long must I put up with you lot” or “How long shall I stay with you and put up with you.” I kinda laugh when I read that verse, i can feel myself do a bit of a look and an eye roll. But, its good to change your tone as you read certain verses, and ask yourself how did Jesus say it?

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    • Oh, it’s not the thinking of Jesus talking in the voice of a bitter, drunk guy that I worry it about. It’s the saying it out loud that I’m not so sure I should do!

      I love that you heard Jesus’ voice in a harsh or mocking way when you were new to the faith. So many of us have been acclimated to flatten the words out that they just don’t have that sort of power. We’ll have that bitterness in our heart and never even realize it.

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