Originally Posted January 28, 2013
As a philosopher, I like to browse among photo memes on the Internet. Photo memes have sort of become the “proverbs” of current society because they must be reduced to short, catchy truisms in order to legibly fit on the related photo.
I’ve often argued that the modern concept of “Jesus” is more a concept of a generic good guy, something not unlike Buddha, Confucius, or even Yoda, rather than the real Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. After running across this photo meme recently (above), I started exploring the vast reaches of the Internet to see where it came from. I was surprised by what I found.
It seems that more and more Christians are getting fed up with this “Jesus, Lord of Mush” crap. I thought it was just me, but it seems it isn’t.
Scripture records a considerable number of accounts where Jesus of Nazareth showed harshness and aggression. Here are some of them (quotes are from English Standard Version):
The Cleansing of the Temple
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” St John 3.13-16
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” St Matthew 21.12-13
Bringing A Sword, Not Peace
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” St Matthew 10.34
Insulting The Pharisees
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” St Matthew 12.33-34
“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” St Matthew 23.33
Cursing The Unyielding Fig Tree
In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. St Matthew 21.18-19
Turning Nonbelievers Away
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” St Matthew 7.22-23
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from em, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'” St Matthew 25.41
To Laodicea, The Luke-Warm Church
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3.15-16
So what would Jesus do? The answer depends upon who you think Jesus is. Do you think He is just one of these generic “good guys” that help bring peace and harmony to mankind? Do you think He is the harmless Lamb who wouldn’t step on an ant? Do you think He is a real man who may not fit the world’s idea of a good guy?
“But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” St Mark 8.29
Who is this Jesus of Nazareth to you?