Today we’re going to ponder putting off sarcasm. Or, is your sarcasm Christlike? Is it a gift of the Holy Spirit, used to edify His Church? First, how does the world recognize and define sarcasm:
Meriem webster Sarcasm refers to the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say, especially in order to insult someone, or to show irritation, or just to be funny. … Most often, sarcasm is biting, and intended to cause pain.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sarcasm#:~:text=Sarcasm%20refers%20to%20the%20use,or%20just%20to%20be%20funny.&text=Most%20often%2C%20sarcasm%20is%20biting%2C%20and%20intended%20to%20cause%20pain.
My heart has been aching of late, from a conversation among Christian women who were so thankful that Jesus is as sarcastic as they are. They claimed to enjoy His sarcasm, and to have learned much from it. When I asked for the places in Scripture where Jesus was sarcastic, only one passage was mentioned.
Jesus, talking to the forlorn disciples, on the road to Emmaus.
Before we ask the questions “does Jesus speak sarcastically? Does He use a spirit of sarcasm? Is He in fact sarcastic with His own disciples in their grief and sadness?” let us look to the passage. Too often, as in this case, it is tempting to read one’s own heart into the text (a form of eisegesis) or to superimpose our own motives onto Jesus.
And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning with us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”
To see Jesus as sarcastic means that He would treat their hearts’ genuine concern with contempt. So as you read that text, is that what Jesus did? Or was He gentle and lowly, teaching them? (see Matthew 11:25-30)
Let us review, to be sarcastic means: to not respect; to not honor; to not treat kindly; to not accept; to judge; to belittle; to irritate; to inflict pain; to bite and devour; to insult; and all of this in order to be funny.
God would have to cease to be LOVE in order to fit this bill.
Modernity and Postmodernism share this:
that they have shattered our ability to honor and respect, to delight in what is pure and holy, to acknowledge the difference between good and evil. Many Christians today disapprove of even using the words “pure” and “godly.”(Curious about this? Read David Wells’ No Place for Truth, and Losing our Virtue.)
So those of you who “love” when Jesus is sarcastic–ultimately you proclaim that Jesus had the intent to speak opposite rather than revealing; you believe Jesus means to irritate; you believe Jesus means to insult, or to speak in order to bite and cause pain. Really? Your God delights in insults? Delights in pain? He has not come to make all things new, but rather to insult, injure, and otherwise laugh at you? You think Jesus wants you to “lighten up” as He mocks you, scoffs at you and delights to see you struggle? You believe He is not your help, but that He derides you, and sticks around to see your reaction so as to plan His next sarcastic remark to cut even deeper?
“Oh lighten up Emily, He is only a little sarcastic, to add emphasis…” No beloved, He is Light and in Him is no darkness at all.
He reveals, He invites, He is full of compassion and patience. His love is steadfast, He does not need to blow off a little steam as I approach and say “but I thought You would redeem…” (tears, sighing…) You may mock, you may grow weary with me, you may not want to answer my heart’s cry–but do not foist that attitude upon Christ. You may deal with life’s difficulties with sarcasm, but a Perfect, Pure, Holy God did not teach this to you. (Future post coming soon on
How long has God been patiently working out His plan of redemption? He is patient and kind, and bears all things; would He grow weary and lash out at His own disciples, and add “I was only joking!”?
Or perhaps Jesus loves you, and has invited you into His inner circle that you may sit together in the seat of scoffers, and mock others and irritate others? Blessed is the man who does not sit in the seat of scoffers, unless of course you are enjoying some holy scoffing? Holy sarcasm? Pure and loving sarcasm?
NO! To see Jesus as sarcastic is to read modern Western attitudes into the Scriptures. Jesus shares our flesh but not our sin. He is holy. He is pure.
He demands that His people put away abusive language.
He demands that our sense of humor be cleansed by His blood.
He wants us to laugh, but not at another’s expense.
If our humor is not loving, put it off. But even worse than your own sinful sense of humor is believing it is part of God’s character. And worse still is teaching others to view God as sarcastic.
What Really Happened on that Road?
When Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, it was with the intent to teach and guide, to use truth to comfort them. He is Truth, He is not one who would speak opposite for dramatic effect and comic relief (while you sit in the corner, belittled).
He is the lifter of your head. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear Him ask why you are downcast, and then to be able to tell Him–knowing He would teach you, and dine with you, and reassure you of belonging to Him (re-read that passage above)? He listens, He cares, He speaks, He is near, and He will always abide with His own–never casting them out or making them feel unwelcome.
On a personal note, when lovingly confronted years ago about my own well developed ability to sarcastically respond in most situations, it took over two years to “put off” while “putting on” the mind of Christ in its place. Persevere, brethren!
Psalm 1; Psalm 145; John 1; Romans 12; Romans 13:8-14; 1 Corinthians 13:1-14:1, 16:14; Colossians 3:1-17; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13; Hebrews 10:19-25.