In sarcasm, people use phrases or statements that mean the opposite of what they want to say. It is used to make a point, especially when a speaker is irritated. The Bible has several examples of sarcasm. But did Jesus use sarcasm?
Jayson Bradley, an author of Relevant Magazine, says that Jesus used sarcasm to make a point, mainly against the Pharisees, who were religious but hypocrites. Although most believe sarcasm is unkind, Jesus significantly used it to make his points.
In this article, we will discuss how sarcasm is used in the Bible, where in the Bible Jesus used sarcasm, how often Jesus used sarcasm to make a point, whether Jesus had a sense of humor and whether Christians can use sarcasm.
How is sarcasm used in the Bible?
Sarcasm is used in several ways in the Bible. First, it is used to break the monotony. In Isaiah 44:15-17 the Bible describes how a man grows trees, uses them as firewood, makes a god with the remainder of the firewood, and begs the God he has created to deliver him.
Since Moses was given the ten commandments, prophets and other religious leaders in Israel continually warned against the worship of idols. The warnings had become too much until they were monotonous and ineffective. So, Isaiah decided to use sarcasm. The prophet Isaiah demonstrates how ridiculous it is to make a god out of wood and to worship it. Sarcastically he explains how a man grows a tree and uses some of it as firewood and the remainder to make a god. The man asks God to deliver him, yet he makes it from the rest of his firewood. Sarcasm helped him show the Israelites that idols are useless and it is foolish to worship them.
Sarcasm was also used to mock idol worship to dissuade people from it. Jeremiah says: For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, And they cannot speak; They must be carried Because they cannot go by themselves. Jeremiah 10:3-5. Peter Barnes notes that sarcasm has an undesirable tone and therefore is effective in mocking a lousy behavior or hypocrisy. In this case, Jeremiah used it to mock idol worship.
Where in the Bible did Jesus use sarcasm?
Jesus used sarcasm to challenge those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. In John 8:7, the Jews wanted to trap Jesus by asking him what they should do with the woman caught in adultery. The law required that such a person be stoned. If Jesus had told them not to stone the woman, they would have accused him of faulting and disobeying the law. Jesus used sarcasm instead of telling them they also had sinned and had no moral authority to punish the woman. It was easier to use sarcasm because it avoided arguments that would have ensued if Jesus had told them they also were sinners.
Jesus also used sarcasm when talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, as narrated in John 4:17-18. When Jesus told her to bring her husband, the woman declared he had no husband. Jesus responded by telling her that she told the truth because out of the five husbands she had, none of them was her The statement by Jesus, ‘ you have said well, I have no husband,’ is sarcastic because Jesus follows it by saying that the woman had five husbands. How could Jesus tell her that “she had spoken well,” yet she was lying? It was a sarcastic way of pointing out her sins, which she thought were a secret.
Also, Jesus uses sarcasm to point out the lack of knowledge in applying the scriptures by the Pharisees, who were law teachers. For instance, when they challenged Jesus about his disciples picking and eating grain during the sabbath, Jesus responded by asking them if they had read about David, who entered the temple and ate bread which he was forbidden: Matthew 12:3-4. It was sarcastic to ask a law teacher whether he had read the scriptures. Of course, they had read but did not understand. Through sarcasm, Jesus was telling them that they were teachers of the law, yet they did not know how to apply the scriptures in their daily life.
When Jesus demonstrated to the Jews that he was Christ, they wanted to stone him. He used sarcasm to remind them that he had been good to them and had only done good things. As such, they should not stone him. Instead of explaining the good things he had done, he wanted them to remember them. He also wanted them to remember that they were about to stone a good person: John 10:32. Jesus knew that they wanted to stone him for saying that he was the son of God. However, he reminded them that he had done many good things. They should not pay good with evil.
How often did Jesus use sarcasm to make a point?
Jesus used sarcasm in most of his interactions with the Jesus who opposed him. There are more than seven times when Jesu uses sarcasm. His message was effective in all circumstances and generated the right responses. The example of the woman caught in adultery is significant because the law permitted stoning people who committed adultery. Dissuading the people from doing what the law had allowed them was an exceptional use of sarcasm.
Other examples of sarcasm include when Jesus used the parable of the lost sheep to show the Pharisees they were no better than sinners: Luke: 15:7.
He told the Jews that he wanted to hurry to Jerusalem because he did not want to die outside Jerusalem Luke 13:33. He meant that he knew that the Jews killed their prophets.
Did Jesus have a sense of humor?
Jesus used a lot of humor in his interaction with the disciples and the Pharisees. Father Alain Bandelier notes that although we see Jesus laughing in the New Testament, it does not mean he did not have a sense of humor. An example of humor is when Jesus warns against finding fault. He said: And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but do not consider the plank in your eye? Matthew 7:3. You cannot help but laugh at a person with a log in his eye but is pointing at a speck in another person’s eye.
Another humorous illustration is of a person who is blind but offers to lead another blind person. He said: And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Matthew 15:14. It is laughable that a blind person can offer to show another blind person and get him in a ditch.
Can Christians use sarcasm?
Scholars suggest that Christians can use sarcasm but moderately. They argue that while sarcasm can be offensive, it can also be a source of great learning when used lovingly and wisely. A good example is when Paul admonishes the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 4:8-13.
The Compelling Truth Ministries say that Christians can use a mild form of sarcasm to teach and correct in a Christian setting. They say that the Bible has used sarcasm and successfully led and corrected.
Based on the examples from the Bible and insights from credible Christian ministries, it is right to conclude that Christians can use sarcasm. However, it should be moderated and used lovingly.
Three Times Jesus Used Sarcasm to Make a Point
Did Jesus have a sense of humor?
The Bible’s Use of Sarcasm, Irony, and Denunciation
What does the Bible say about satire and sarcasm?
Does the Bible say anything about sarcasm or satire?
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.