NONE DARE CALL IT SARCASM
WHY ALL THE SARCASM AND ANGER, RAY?
One of my avid readers saw an email I answered wherein I suggested that maybe I might tone down my sarcasm just a smidgen. She protested, stating that my style is what kept her interested in studying Gods Word.
Maybe an explanation of why I write the way I do, is in order.
I have received more than a few emails from my detractors criticizing the fact that I sometimes sound angry in my writings, speak with an edge in my voice, and also use sarcasm. None of these are rehearsed or planned. I write as the Spirit moves me. But some feel that this is unacceptable. They state that I am not being Christ-like, and that Jesus would not approve of the tone of my writing. That this alone should be proof enough for anyone that I am not a man of God, and my papers are not of God. They further suggest Jesus would NEVER, EVER speak with such a cutting tone of voice as I sometimes use.
It makes me wonder if they have ever read the gospel accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Most of the world would be HIGHLY OFFENDED if Jesus were to speak to our religious leaders and governmental leaders in the same way He did two thousand years ago. But I am but a novice at sarcasm; Jesus was a Master.
I fully realize that my papers grind on the spirits of those who oppose Gods Word. And well they should. When I quote the Scriptures, I quote them with authority, because the Scriptures ARE authority:
Jesus got His authority from His Father, and He used it. In fact, the very words He spoke were the words of His Father, and not His own (John 17:8), hence the Father too uses sarcasm and anger in teaching.
Our God and Lord have more personality than most have ever imagined. What a broad range of colorful metaphors, parables, and colloquialisms they used. Add to these sarcasm, exaggeration, satire, irony, and true anger, and we have powerful, powerful persuasive language.
JESUS TALKED NATURALLY
Jesus did not go around speaking as if He were a performer on a Shakespearean Stage. Jesus did NOT speak in archaic King James English! Jesus never said:
No, that is NOT what He said. That is what He said according to 1611 archaic English which now sounds strange and affected to our ears. According to our 21st Century English He said something like this:
Jesus spoke the language of the people; the language of the day. He was natural, He was colloquial, He was precise, He was articulate, He was emotional, He was sincere. Jesus spoke EXACTLY AND PRECISELY as He was inside, because it is a Scriptural truth that, " out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34b).
Here are few Scriptures that should give us a clearer picture of the heart of Jesus:
Jesus identified with our humanity when He said: "Simon, Simon Martha, Martha " Jesus was profoundly human. He was, after all, the humble servant as the Son of man. But He was also the wise and powerful Son of God. Jesus spoke gently with the meek, but His speech EXPLODED with the wicked.
Jesus came to expose evil and hypocrisy like no one had ever done before. His voice was the "voice of a trumpet." God told Isaiah to:
As a servant of God I cannot expose the evil and hypocrisy in the Church and in this world with a song in my heart, a smile on my face, and a chuckle in my voice! Sorry, but that wont get the job done.
There is a time for humor and there is a time to get serious. Sarcasm can be serious business. I do not use it to elicit laughs. I am not naïve of the fact that most people do not want to hear the Truth. Well did Isaiah prophesy of those:
I would rather sound a little angry or sarcastic than to teach smooth and deceitful things. Gee, even Isaiah used colorful language, "speak unto us smooth things." Could this be the origin of "smooth talkers?"
The purpose of this paper is not solely to defend my style of writing, (God only knows that I do not profess to be a scholar, nor a polished orator, nor a man of eloquent words), but to rather see by Whose authority I do this. We will examine whether Jesus Christ Himself did not indeed use sarcasm, exaggeration, caricature, satire, irony, and anger to get across His Gospel Message.
I am now sure why it is automatically assumed that if one sounds angry there is something wrong with his message. When speaking of immoral and evil things that hurt and deceive people, it behooves us to be ANGRY about such things. Anger does not have to be a sin. Gods anger is mentioned a couple of hundreds times in Scripture. Many of the teachings of the Church are not only evil, but they are stupid and foolish. Sarcasm is a perfect exposer of stupidity.
I have two favorite Scriptural sarcasm's that I find to be sheer genius. One in the Old Testament and one in the new. I will now give you the one in the old, (I Kings 18:21-39). Elijah told the people that they should choose two bullocks and place them on two altars of wood. He then said:
They all agreed, and so the priests of Baal went first:
I think we should read this verse from The Living Bible:
And the priests of Baal, being as stupid as stupid can be, followed Elijahs mocking sarcasm: And they CRIED ALOUD here was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. Remember that God Himself inspired Elijah to mock the priests of Baal with these jeering and demeaning epithets. He went so far as to suggest that maybe their god was "sitting on the toilet" or so exhausted he "fell asleep." And they were too stupid to even know that Elijah was making public spectacles and fools out of them.
But lets not ever loose sight of the fact that although God used these priests of Baal as vessels of dishonor, He nonetheless, loves them, died for them, and will ultimately save them all! Remember also:
TO WHOM CHRIST WAS COMMISSIONED
Lets realize a few axioms before we examine Christs actual words. Jesus taught the people of Israel, the Jews, the people around Galilee and Jerusalem. They were all religious people. They all followed the law of Moses. Jesus most stinging words were to the religious leaders and rulers of Judaism. On the very few occasions where Jesus even spoke to a non-Jew, He expressed the greatest admiration for their faith, rather than condemnation for being Gentiles. After all, how much faith did Jesus find among His Own people?
It is essential we keep in mind just who it was that Jesus preached to. Jesus did NOT berate the atheists or pagan Romans in Judea for their sins, but rather "The lost sheep of the House of Israel." The Jews. The commandment-keeping people of Judah.
If Jesus were to come to American today and preach His Gospel Message, little would have changed except for one prophesied difference. Everything has gotten even worse than it was in His day:
First let us notice a most profound statement that explains a great deal about the manner of our Lords teaching and preaching:
HOW JESUS UPBRAIDED THE CITIES
Notice please, that Jesus "upbraided" the cities TRUTHFULLY, while He said men would "revile" His true followers, FALSELY. The same Greek word is used to describe both. No matter how stern or cutting our Lords words might have been, they always were TRUTHFUL! As for any sarcasm and anger that Jesus exhibited, your argument must be with Him and not me.
Clearly, oneidizo is not a pleasant word; not when Jesus used it and not when persecutors used it. The difference is that Jesus spoke the TRUTH when He used this word, but the persecutors speak FALSELY when they use it.
What does it mean when it says that Jesus began to "upbraid" the cities where He taught?
I will consult Strongs Dictionary of the New Testament to help us define this word, because if I were to define it myself and tell you what it means, NO ONE WOULD BELIEVE ME! Oneidizo is a POWERFUL word of rebuke and condemnation.
Here is the definition:
Notoriety: notorious, ill fame, infamous
Taunt: reproach, mocking, insulting, contemptuous, scornful, tirade
Disgrace: loss of honor, shame, disapproval, disfavor, discredit
Reproach: disapproval, criticism, disappointment, shame, disgrace, blame, rebuke
Defame: to attack or damage the character or reputation of
Rail: to express objections or criticism in bitter, harsh, or abusive language
Chide: scold, correct, improve, reprimand, disapproval, strife, contention
That should settle any questions as to what "upbraid" means. Let me be quick to add (I can see the emails flowing in by the hundreds ), that not every word used to define the words that define oneidizo are always 100% applicable when a word such as "upbraid" is used to translate that Greek word. So all of you who were getting ready to write me or inform the chat rooms that, "Ray Smith says that Jesus was disgraceful, used abusive language, and went into tirades during His ministry," hold off a little and continue reading.
It is possible to condemn the sinful actions and teachings of men without hating the men who commit these things. Jesus loved everyone. Jesus died for everyone. Jesus forgave everyone. Jesus forgave those who crucified Him before He expired. As I have said many times, except for the grace of God, anyone of us could have been any of the worlds most evil people. We are saved in Gods grace, not by our cleverness in choosing to follow and obey God. Grace CAUSES us to obey God. Carnality CAUSES men to disobey God. It is that simple. And so we expose, exhort, teach, challenge, forgive, and LOVE. That these can take the form of sarcasm, exaggeration, satire, irony, anger, and LOVE, are clearly demonstrated by the examples of our Lord.
Now then, lets see some examples of "upbraiding" used by our Lord in preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God:
After the high priest asked Jesus about His disciples and teachings, Jesus said:
One of the guards felt that Jesus was contemptuous and out of line. The guard slapped Jesus in the mouth with the palm of his hand and told Him to WATCH HIS MOUTH when speaking to the High Priest! The guard was letting Jesus know in no uncertain terms, that one does not speak to such a dignified person as the High Priest with such a demeaning tone of voice! What would you think if someone were to address the Pope with this same tone of voice as Jesus used on the High Priest? Would you too think that someone ought to slap his face for talking that way to the Pope? Well? Was our Lord too smart for His britches? Was His language and tone of voice to be condemned by a punch in the mouth?
Jesus TOLD THE TRUTH. Jesus called a spade a spade. And many people thought He was a contemptuous smart aleck! HE WAS NOT! It was the Truth of His words that cut them; not the tone of His words. However, the tone of His voice and the selection of words and analogies that He used were not only highly offensive to those whom He spoke, but are likewise offensive to people hearing this same approach used today by Gods servants.
LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR DEAD
Do you think maybe that particular disciple was offended by his Masters words? Jesus was saying that those preparing this funeral and burial were AS DEAD as the corpse they were about bury! Jesus asked this disciple to "follow Me" and let DEAD people take care of DEAD matters. After all, this was the disciples OWN FATHER! Are we not to "HONOR our father and mother?" Of course we are, but when Jesus asks us to follow Him, then our allegiance to our parents, children, or loved ones take second place to that command. We must be willing to FORSAKE ALL to follow Jesus! Jesus was leading this disciple to things of LIFE, while he would sooner attend to things of DEATH. One cannot serve two masters.
Jesus could have just told them how to fast properly. But no, He first told them how NOT to fast, by exposing the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the day. Jesus was a Master of sarcasm and satire. Jesus called them "hypocrites" and said their religion was as FAKE AS THEY WERE! But it was the TRUTH of His infallible statements that really cut them. After all, the Word of God is like a SHARP two-edged sword. It CUTS to the marrow of the bond. They were, as many still ARE, fakers and "play-actors" as Phillips Translates it.
CAST OUT THE LOG FROM YOUR EYE
What? Talk about exaggeration! Jesus didnt suggest that first brother had a toothpick in his eyes hindering him from helping his brother to retrieve a small mote, but rather a log, a beam, a timber. A log is a billion times larger than a mote, which is a tiny speck. Dont try and take a speck of dirt out of your brothers eye when you have a GIANT REDWOOD TREE growing out of your own eye! But who is so naïve as to not immediately comprehend the profound meaning and simple truth of this parable? It is Christs GROSS EXAGGERATION that makes this parable so profoundly clear and truthful.
This parable cannot be literally true, however it is absolutely spiritually true. People who often try to remove a character flaw from a friend or associate, have themselves, GIANT character flaws far more weighty than those they try to correct in others.
DISCIPLES ARE CALLED EVIL
Remember that it was Christs "disciples" that He was teaching here on the mount (Matt. 5:1). Jesus called His Own disciples "EVIL"! Would you have been offended if Christ had called you, "evil"?
PEACE OR SWORD?
Anyone offended by this statement of our Lord? Isnt our Lord "The Prince of Peace?" Of course, few there be that understand this parable. Jesus did not come to bring ARMIES OF ARMED MEN to do battle on this earth. He came with "A SWORD"! His WORD is the "sword."
Well, who then is the enemy of Gods Word that we do battle against with this spiritual sword?
Which household includes the church itself (Eph. 2:19).
CHRIST DEMANDS MORE THAN EQUAL LOVE
Anyone offended by that Statement of our Lord? Do you think it was wrong of our Lord to suggest that we must love Him MORE than our own parents and children?
JESUS CALLS THE JEWS, WOLVES
Jesus called the citizens of Jerusalem and Judea "wolves." Does that offend anyone?
GOD DOESNT CHOOSE PANSIES TO DO HIS WORK
Is this not a taunting, sarcastic remark? He asked them what spectacle they expected to see out there in the wildernessa blade of grass swaying in the wind? Some patsy that would be blown away by the softest summer breeze? Jesus was asking these religious sophisticates whether they thought a real man of God would look like some, prim and prissy, prudish, punctilious, polished, patrician of the kings court? Is THAT what kind of a man you went out to see? Someone who would never deign to gets his fingernails dirty?
The religious leaders WERE OFFENDED by the rough presence of John the Baptist. But what is the Truth? What kind of a man was this John the Baptizer who was
Heres the Truth:
WAS CHRIST A COMMON CRIMINAL?
The Chief Priest, scribes and elders sent
Why did Jesus have to say ANYTHING? Why this smart, sarcastic remark? Because He wanted them to see the TRUTH of their ways. They KNEW Jesus was not a man of violence. They KNEW He never harmed anyone. They KNEW he never resisted evil, and taught His disciples to "turn the other cheek." With all that in mind, Jesus asks them if they think they have enough manpower, armaments, and weapons to apprehend Him, as though He were a common criminal that might try to escape or overpower them. Jesus was a Master of Sarcasm! He was "in their face"!
LOVE NOT THE WORLD
Jesus is telling us of self-appointed pastors who fraudulently steal widows welfare checks so that they can live in the lap of luxury and ease. Jesus calls them "pretenders" (fakes, imposters). Has anyone noticed that the elitists of Christianity also love the chief seats in church, at banquets, and loved to be called by their holy titles (Reverend, Your Holiness, Right Reverend, Most Reverend, Father, Holy Father, Rabbi, etc., etc.)
Do those who covet being called by these titles really LOVE God, Who says:
And lets not forget mans listing of academic degrees and achievements.
The Scribes and the Pharisee asked Jesus why His disciple TRANSGRESSED the tradition of the elders? Jesus threw the question right back into their faces:
THEY PROFESSBUT THEY LIE
Why did Jesus speak with such "in your faced sarcasm?" Because the people that Jesus was correcting were "hypocrites." Maybe a definition of hypocrisy is in order here:
They "professed" to be true, what in their own lives WAS FALSE! What does Paul tell us about those who "profess," but are hypocrites?
ABOMINABLE, DISOBEDIENT, REPROBATE! Are these words strong enough to make Pauls point? Many many pastors of the church profess that they LOVE GOD; they profess that they LOVE THEIR NEIGHBORS; then even profess that they LOVE THEIR ENEMIES, but in works they deny Him:
Yet WHO "loves the world" more than the tens of thousands of money-hungry, vanity-filled, power-crazed, lovers of worldliness and worldly pleasures who call themselves "pastors?" Do they "love their neighbors" when they fraudulently and unscripturally extort widows welfare checks to sustain their uncontrollable lusts for materialism?
TODAYS RECRUITS ARE TOMORROWS HERETICS
Sarcasm! Jesus said that they would scour the whole planet for just one convert that would then continue their heresy with TWICE the vigor of their teachers.
MANS GREATER SIN IS TRYING TO BE HOLY
Exaggerated sarcasm! One cannot literally "swallow a camel." But SPIRITUALLY, this is exactly what they were doing. The itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy, flaws of their spiritual lives that they attempted to clean up in their lives, versus the GIGANTIC spiritual character flaws that they did NOTHING to change, were truly comparable to a "gnat versus a camel."
DONT WASTE GODS WORD ON SPIRITUAL PIGS
Remember that Jesus only taught in parables. Did Jesus say: "Dont bother teaching the truth to those who dont want to hear it?" That would have been clear enough: "Dont try to teach the truth to those who do not desire the truth." Simple. Oh, No, Jesus would never say it like that. Here is how Jesus would say that same thing:
I have had this happen to me many times by clergymen of the Church. I give them Gods Pure Word, they spiritually "trample it under their feet" and then spiritually try to "tear me in pieces." Atheists and heathens have never treated me this wayonly professing Christians. I do not get many emails from atheists, but I do get some, and all but one were polite and considerate in their comments. Now I am well aware of the fact that missionaries have been virtually torn to peaches by heathens, but thankfully this is not the norm.
JESUS USED SARCASM ON SATAN
Jesus on once told Satan to: "Get thee BEHIND ME, Satan" (Mark 8:33). Why, "behind" Him? Because it was offensive to Jesus to have Satan in FRONT of Him. Satan has no business IN FRONT of Jesus. Jesus told Satan to: Get out of my FACE, Satan!
JESUS WAS NOT COMMISSIONED TO BLESS THE DOGS
Everyone in ancient Judea knew that the Jews likened the Gentiles to "dogs." When a woman of Canaan asked Jesus for help, Jesus said to her in Matt. 15:26-28):
Actually the Greek here is "puppies" (very young dogs), but nonetheless, "dogs." Wouldnt most consider it a little sarcastic to call a woman asking for help, "a dog?"
This woman was pretty sharp. Not to be outdone, she answered Jesus back with a little of her own sarcasm:
Then Jesus, Who always played fair and was a good sport, said back to her: "TOUCHÉ!"
Okay, maybe Jesus didnt actually say the word "touché," but that is exactly what He meant. Tell you what: Ill put it in italics so everyone knows that I added this word to make the meaning more colloquial and understandable:
TRILLIONS OF GALLONS OF WATER TO DROWN ONE MAN
Thats a little "overkill," wouldnt you think? Like killing a mosquito with a baseball bat? Jesus could have said it would have been better if he "died" or were "drowned." Why a millstone and drowned in the depth of the sea? A person can be drowned by holding his face in a small bucket of water.
Jesus used POWERFUL, EXAGGERATED, SARCASM to show His UTTER CONTEMPT for such wicked sins as these!
WHEN LIGHT IS DARKNESS
What? If the LIGHT that be in you is DARKNESS? Isnt that a little demeaning and sarcastic to say that even our own goodness is evil (dark)? This is not only an exaggeration; this is a physiological IMPOSSIBILITY! Yes, a "physiological" impossibility, but NOT A SPIRITUAL impossibility! Jesus is saying that even the supposed "goodness" (light) in us, is actually "evil." (darkness). How can that be? Because, " None is good, save One, that is , GOD" (Luke 18:18).
AN ANGRY CHRIST IN A DEN OF THIEVES
Did JESUS ever get angry over crime and corruption within the church?
Now then, were any of these activities being performed in the Temple, ILLEGAL? No, they were not. The officers of the Temple allowed it according to their laws, and the Roman Government allowed it according to their laws. So these merchants in the Temple were not criminals. Or were they?
Jesus said they were CRIMINALS! But woe unto me if I should suggest that this same buying and selling in the Churches today is criminal. It IS criminal, I assure you. And they do FAR WORSE! They not only sell trinkets and religious junk in the Church, they MAKE MERCHANDISE OF THE VERY WORD OF GOD ITSELF. THEY SELL THE WORD OF GOD FOR PROFITS! Here is what Christ said concerning their activities of buying and selling in the Temple:
Does anyone believe that Jesus was SMILING while He turned over their tables and call them a "DEN OF THIEVES"?
ANSWERING A FOOL ACCORDING TO A FOOL
The proverb tells us to "Answer a fool according to a fool." Jesus was a Master at doing this. The Chief Priest and Elders of the temple asked Jesus by what authority He did the things that He did. Here then is my favorite New Testament sarcasm by Jesus:
Sarcasm? Maybe. But SHEER GENIUS!
JESUS, WHY DO YOU SOUND SO SARCASTIC AND ANGRY?
Let me borrow a few statements from my detractors emails to me, if I may.
"Why do I feel so much anger in your teachings Ray?
"I find it difficult to concentrate on the subject matter for all the sarcasm and innuendoes that are scattered throughout your teachings Ray"
"Enjoy reading your stuff Ray, but feel there is somebody who upset you along the way and that you need to forgive them SOON "
And this one just came in minutes before press time: "Wow, what venom! please use more caution, discretion, and wisdom, and less personal rancor in your writings and/or teachings." For your information, rancor means: "Bitter long-lasting resentment; deep-seated ill will, rancid smell, to stink, be rotten." I would say that is pretty close to slander. However, Not to worry"sticks and stones "
"Oh Ray, oh Ray, you sound so so, angry." Maybe it is about time some of you started to feel a little anger toward all the spiritual swill and filth that is merchandized and peddled to the world in the name of Christianity! And for those few who are teaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, GOD BLESS YOU ONE AND ALL!
If I tried to write and speak like all the intellectuals of this world, it wouldnt be me. And if Jesus removed all the sarcasm's, exaggerations and what Mr. Spock calls, colorful metaphors, it wouldnt be Jesus either.
I may use sarcasm, and at times get angry, but I tell you in all truthfulness: I am in DEAD EARNEST about what I teach and why I teach it. My papers are not perfect by any means, but THEY ARE SCRIPTURALLY SOUND! When I am proven wrong on a point of Scripture or doctrine, I correct it.
And so if you wish to continue reading my papers, you will have to expect more of the same. With regards to curtailing my sarcasm: As I told my reader: "Not to worry: Can a leopard change his spots?"