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January 25th, 2012
12:52 PM ET

My take: Reclaiming Jesus’ sense of humor

Editor’s note: James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, culture editor of America magazine and author of "Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life," from which this article is adapted.

By James Martin, Special to CNN

Here’s a serious question about levity: The Bible clearly paints a picture of Jesus of Nazareth as a clever guy, but he never seems to laugh, much less crack a smile. Did Jesus really have no sense of humor; didn't he ever laugh?

Well, one difficulty with finding humor in the New Testament is that what was seen as funny to those living in Jesus' time may not seem funny to us.

For someone in first-century Palestine, the premise (or “setup” as a comic would say) was probably more amusing than the punch line. "The parables were amusing in their exaggeration or hyperbole," Amy-Jill Levine, a New Testament scholar at Vanderbilt University, said in an interview. “The idea that a mustard seed would have sprouted into a big bush that birds would build their nests in would be humorous."

People in Jesus’ day would probably have laughed at many of his intentionally funny illustrations: for example, the idea that someone would have lit a lamp and put it under a basket, or that a person would have built a house on sand or that a father would give a child stones instead of bread.

But contemporary Christians may be missing the humor that Jesus intended and that his audience understood.

Father Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, professor of New Testament at Boston College, agrees. "Humor is very culture bound," he told me. "The Gospels have a lot of controversy stories and honor-shame situations. I suspect that the early readers found these stories hilarious, whereas we in a very different social setting miss the point entirely."

Let’s repeat that: hilarious.

Or maybe we just know the stories too well. Too many Gospel stories have become stale, like overly repeated jokes. "The words seem to us like old coins," wrote Elton Trueblood, a 20th-century Quaker scholar, "in which the edges have been worn smooth and the engravings have become almost indistinguishable."

In his book "The Humor of Christ," Trueblood recounts the tale of his 4-year-old son hearing the Gospel story of seeing the speck of dust in your neighbor's eye and ignoring the log in your own and laughing uproariously. His son recognized the humor that someone else, who might have heard the story dozens of times, might miss.

There are other indications in the Gospels that Jesus of Nazareth had a lively sense of humor. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is castigated for not being as serious as John the Baptist. "The Son of Man came eating and drinking," Jesus said, "and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard.’ ” In other words, the Gospels record criticism of Jesus for being too high-spirited.

"Jesus and his disciples," said the Rev. Richard J. Clifford, SJ, a biblical scholar at Boston College, "are criticized for living it up!"

After his time on Earth, some of this playfulness may have been downplayed by the Gospel writers, who, scholars say, may have felt pressured by the standards of their day to present a more serious Jesus.

"There were probably things that were compressed and shortened, and some of the humor may have been leached out," Clifford said. "But I see Jesus as a witty fellow, someone who is serious without being grim. When the disciples argue among themselves, Jesus brings wit into the discussion."

Jesus also embraces others with a sense of humor. In the beginning of the Gospel of John comes the remarkable story of Nathanael, who has been told by his friends that the Messiah is from Nazareth. Nathanael responds, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

This is an obvious joke about how backwards the town was; Nazareth was seen as a backwater with only a few hundred people.

And what did Jesus say in response? Does he castigate Nathanael for mocking his hometown?

Jesus says nothing of the sort! Nathanael's humor seems to delight him.

"Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit," Jesus said. In other words, here’s someone I can trust.

Nathanael then became one of the apostles. Jesus’ welcoming of Nathanael into his inner circle may be the clearest indication that Jesus had a sense of humor.

Besides, what kind of a person has zero sense of humor? I asked Eileen Russell, a clinical psychologist based in New York who specializes in the role of resilience, how she would describe the psychological makeup of a person without a sense of humor.

“A person without a sense of humor would lead to that person having significant social problems,” she said. “He would most likely have difficulty making social connections, because he wouldn’t be able to read signals from other people, and would be missing cues.”

That’s the opposite of what we know about Jesus from the Gospels. Yet that's just the kind of one-sided image that many Christians have of Jesus. It shows up in Christian books, sermons and in artwork. It influences the way that Christians think about Jesus, and therefore influences their lives as Christians.

If part of being human includes having a sense of humor, and if Jesus was “fully human,” as Christians believe, he must have had a fully developed sense of humor. Indeed, his sense of humor may be one unexamined reason for his ability to draw so many disciples around him with ease.

It’s time to set aside the notion that Jesus was a humorless, grim-faced, dour, unsmiling prude. Let’s begin to recover his humor and, in the process, his humanity.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • TV

soundoff (1,367 Responses)
  1. montyross

    stories like this by cnn are just opportunities for the heathen to spout there ignorant posts

    January 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • JT

      No...just gives us the opportunity to ridicule and laugh at you for believing such absurd nonsense.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      You are almost as funny as Jesus! But sorry, no one has those snappy one-liners like the Prince of Peace.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Scott

      I agree Monty. Look at all the bitter Atheists responding including JT.

      January 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Jason

      It isn't the bitter atheists spewing out hatred like "die well, burn in Hell!" No, that would be the so called Christians. Myself, Jesus, and true Christians would agree.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  2. Staring Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

    Hey, can someone post the "Jesus wants a Beer" Cheech and Chong scene from Born in East L.A.??

    January 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  3. Rainer Braendlein

    I think there was no reason for Jesus to be jokey.

    Let us regard the historical situation, when Jesus preached publically.

    Jesus was about 30 years old, when he started his public service, and Jerusalem got utterly destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 after Christ. Jesus was fully aware of the disaster, which was approaching Jerusalems and the people of Israel (by the way, the Jewish War, was one of the greatest disasters of history at all; the Jewish nation got completely destroyed and the Jews were scattered all over the world; even the prices for slaves droped to a minimum, because the Romans made so many Jewish prisoners).

    Conclusion: Jesus was aware of the coming doom of the Jewish nation. There was no cause for the smallest joke.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      Jesus, the sad clown.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • john

      seeing how humor is actually the most influencial, constructive and effective tool to get a point across, im sure at some points he used humor. Even in times of turbulence and death humor has found its way into our lives. humor has a healing property that none other can match

      January 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      There is some historical evidence that Jerusalem was distroyed by the Romans exactly at Passover (for example George Synkellos says that), when a lot of Israelites had gathered for festival within the walls of Jerusalem. Hence, there was a very big loss of lifes for the Jews, because they were hemmed in the walls of the city and could not escape from the attacking Romans.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      Nicely put John. I mean, who would want to hang around with Jesus if he couldn't bust balls with his buddies? I don't think he would be well liked. Men will be men.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      I can just see it....everyone sitting around as Jesus enlightens his flock when suddenly some one let's one go. There is a sudden silence, then everyone, yes Jesus too, busts out laughing. EVERYBODY loves an awkward fart moment!

      January 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Brad

      You know Rainer, Jesus certainly wanted people to share in his joy while he was with them:

      Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
      Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Jason

      Men didn't write in jokes because that wasn't the meaning of the book these people were writing. Jesus didn't write anything in the bible. Nothing was written about Jesus until after Paul's so called vision. These are the writings of people trying to start a new religion.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  4. Dave

    Yeah, HILARIOUS. Jesus was direct and to the point .. for the express purpose of getting his message across. No doubt Jesus possed humor, but for example, to suggest someone would find it hilarious (or that Jesus intended humor) that a puny mustad seed become a huge bush is .. well .. absurd. The parable of the mustard seed is a serious message (as were all of Jesus' messages) ... effectively conveyed using that 'hilarious' (to you) tiny little mustard seed. Point being, the well grounded and nourished mustard seed DOES flourish, just as the new believer that remains 'grounded' and nourishes him/ herself.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      LMAO! That goofy Jesus and his mustard seed. OMG, too funny. STOP! I am gonna pee my pants. Jesus you crazy bas.tard you!

      January 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  5. Staring Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

    Would Jesus be able to Cross the Border?

    ~~~~~~~~

    "What is your name ?"

    "I have been called the prince of peace."

    "Senor peace, we do not want you or your kind in our country."

    January 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • montyross

      I am assuming when you say boarder you are talking about that icon, the Holy Grail for the Mexican people that divides Mexico from the U.S......

      January 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      I didn't say boarder.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  6. Marky Merlot

    Just search: Dave Allen on Religion (YouTube) if you want to REALLy see the humor in religion. If you don't roll on floor laughing then you have a serious problem. You try describing the Trinity to a 4 year old!

    January 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  7. Observer

    I used to have a shirt with the "Laughing Jesus" on it. People generally failed to see the humor.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  8. hippypoet

    ok jesus joke/pun time –
    be nice, you don't want jesus to get cross with you!
    beware when drinking with the J man, jesus gets hammered with the best of them!
    i wish i could get nailed as much as jesus does!
    jesus once jewd me on a debt, i found him roman but i couldn't touch him cause he got himself crowned! what a pric.k!

    January 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • john

      racist prck

      January 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Mike in NYC

      I don't find the jokes particularly funny ... but please explain how they are racist????

      January 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • hippypoet

      racist, no... def. not! just making a joke using modern lingo... sorry if it went over you head john, such a small minded head at that!

      January 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • john

      sorry, i should have said "anti semetic".. still a prck.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • hippypoet

      – oh jesus christ, i didn't think I'D be taking a lashing – i guess they could have hung the man – but come on- cut the man some slack would ya!

      January 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • hippypoet

      and i am not anti semitic, i am anti christ!
      he died so that the romans would have something to do that afternoon and that is all.
      nothing special – and in that sense, jesus is just like you john....a loser.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • john

      not only are you 12 years old (im surprised you didnt go with 'loozer' or something trendy) but you also lack the brainpower to understand the definition of "anti semite". i dont think you are 'ani jesus' i think you are 'anti smart'.. lord help us all with knuckleheads like you on the loose..

      January 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • hippypoet

      no, i'm 25... 🙂
      anti semitic means you dislike (this is the more favored definition) jews...however i view it as you dislike semitic peoples, which has a wide range of different peoples in it. Its sad that you didn't catch my meaning, perhaps you wouldn't so dumb – but all things for a reason i guess. 🙂
      OH and john, the word anti is latin for before, and its greek for against....but i'm sure you already knew that – thats what turns me on about you – your attention to detail! roar!

      January 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • john

      "jewing" someone on a debt is an anti semetic saying.. if you truly did not know that you are really bad off..and good try on the "25 years old thing" .. pointd for effort i guess.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • jeez

      Wow, someone really has no sense of humor. I'm looking at you @john. lighten up, you're gonna have a stroke.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • hippypoet

      john, if you are a believer in any religion.. then i guess i only have one more then to say – take it on faith!

      January 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • John

      Oh okay, so now that you are educated what is it? You didnt make the remark or i need to lighten up? I love it when losers like you get busted and start backpeddling. And trust me, i take it so light im on clouds. I just cant pass up a good opportunity to make a hateful prck like you squirm in your own ignorance.. Have fun with life, its gonna be rough ride once you hit your 18 birthday.

      January 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • hippypoet

      ok first, jesus being a jew and i am making fun of him is kinda anti jewish in the first place – and using modern lingo in a joke to make it work is a time honored tradition. And i am, 25, i am sorry you have been lied to so many times that when someone tells the truth its hard to believe. Maybe one day when you make as much money as i and are as educated as i such low things won't bother you so much. If you believe that because someone used a word they must be of a certain age then its you rather then me thats truly ignorant. And i never backpeddle and what did i get "busted" for in the first place – you think you caught me using a term of hate and i what...denied it...nope, never happened – i don't care about words that hate, its people who hate, not words...we give such things power and its people like you that perpetuate them.

      January 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • booboo

      the fact that you think words cant be used to hate makes me realize you are probably closer to ten years old. sorry about the mistake.

      January 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • mr. Magoooooooooo

      @booboo... The fact that YOU didn't even make the comment about him being 12 in the first place is the even bigger mistake... ha

      January 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Scott

      Not racist, not anti-semitic. Just stupid and blasphemous.

      January 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  9. Russ

    If you've ever read Christopher Moore's "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend," you will absolutely see how fun a Jesus with a sense of humor can be.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  10. Leucadia Bob

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLL0GDv73j0&w=640&h=390]

    January 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  11. Jeebus

    Jesus is dead. Jeebu$ saves.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Scott

      *yawn*

      January 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  12. iamacamera

    Why was Jesus so hated by religious folks of the day. He was funny. Humor is a great weapon. I'd wager he wouldn't be too popular among today's religious folks either.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Observer

      The Sanhedrin failed to see the humor.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Yay!

      Making stuff up is fun!

      January 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  13. David Johnson

    Jesus was a myth. If you want Him to have a sense of humor, just work it into the folklore.

    Just Being Helpful

    January 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • iamacamera

      "helpful?" not so much. BTW you're a myth. Just being helpful.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Ogre

      iamacamera,

      Let's see your myth type something here.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • john

      um.. most scholars all agree jesus lived. whether he was son of god or ordinary man is the question. thanks for showing your ignorance though. laughable at best

      January 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Bob

      Keeping with the them of the article, what's hilarious is your very ahistorical contention that Jesus was a myth!

      January 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Matt

      you may be right. There is debate over if the man existed. Even if he did exist, what's true and false about him is up for debate. If you don't think he literally cured a leper or literally turned water in to wine, then yes, the story is a myth. Many historical figures also have mythic stories such as George Washington's chopping of the Cherry Tree or that he had wooden dentures. If we can't get every story right about our first president only a couple hundred years ago, is it reasonable to assume that we got everything right about a man who had a handful of followers during his life time thousands of years ago?

      January 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • john

      matt. i just find it scary that some people, in their zealous attempts to purge any religious notions from their lives, will deny the existence of a man just because hes tied to religion. thats like 2000 years from now a group of people laughing at the idea that geroge bush existed becuase he believed in god. There are a LOT of people who are really that ignorant..

      January 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Judas

      Actually many scholars still debate whether Jesus ever actually existed as there has been no physical evidence ever found, there's no record of his execution and all writings referencing Jesus were written long after he supposedly died.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • john

      there are little to no records for most of the people who existed in his time. When dealing with historical figures of 2000 years ago we dont lean on "proof" like you think, we have to use other means of evidence.. But, in normal athiestic religious zealotry youll still find people saying "we have no proof jesus existed", laughingly dismissing a historical figure because they dont want to be "religious".. scary

      January 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      "But, in normal athiestic religious zealotry youll still find people saying "we have no proof jesus existed", laughingly dismissing a historical figure because they dont want to be "religious".. scary"

      There is no primary, first hand-account of jesus. There is evidence that he existed, but no smoking gun. It is not unreasonable to question hearsay testimony

      January 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • john

      the people who do research have already drawn the conclusions. your opinion doesnt change that. once again, nobody from that era can be proven to have existed. does that mean no humans were alive 2000 years ago? seriously man, get a grip.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Bizarre

      The purportedly most-important event since the beginning of time... and an omniscient "God" leaves this cr@ppy, ambiguous, unverified doc.umentation?

      January 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Judas

      I'm not saying he didn't exist necessarily. It's quite possible someone named Jesus did a few good deeds and was remembered through stories becoming more mythical each time its told until ultimately he became a character interesting enough to put on paper. It's also possible he did not exist at all. Either way, if he did exist at that time and he was drastically similar to the Jesus of the bible, I'm sure people would have been writing about it as it happened not centuries later.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @john

      Sorry Sparky. Jesus was an urban legend. Just like Mithra and Horus.

      There were no eyewitness accounts of Jesus. The Gospels were written by god knows who in the third person. The Gospels were written with an agenda i.e., Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God.

      We know virtually nothing about the persons who wrote the gospels we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
      -Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, (The Gnostic Gospels)

      The bottom line is we really don't know for sure who wrote the Gospels.
      -Jerome Neyrey, of the Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass. in "The Four Gospels," (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

      Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it.
      C. Dennis McKinsey, Bible critic (The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy)

      Mark was the first gospel (Markan Priority). Luke and Mathew copied from Mark and from a doc_ument called "Q". 90% of Mathew's gospel, is copied from Mark. Why would an eyewitness need to copy from Mark? Not just the same narratives, but the exact same words?

      There are no known secular writings about Jesus, that aren't forgeries, later insertions, or hearsay. NONE!

      Most of the supposed authors lived AFTER Jesus was dead. Can you say hearsay? Can you say "the dead tell no tales"?

      Philo of Alexandria (20 BC – 50 AD) a contemporary Jewish historian, never wrote a word about Jesus. This is odd, since Philo wrote broadly on the politics and theologies around the Mediterranean.

      Lucius Annaeus Seneca (ca. 4 BCE – 65 CE) A.K.A. Seneca the Younger. A contemporary of Jesus wrote extensively on many subjects and people. But he didn't write a word about a Jesus.

      Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 AD – August 25, 79 AD), better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher. Plinius wrote "Naturalis Historia", an encyclopedia into which he collected much of the knowledge of his time. There is no mention of a Jesus.

      The area in and surrounding Jerusalem served, in fact, as the center of education and record keeping for the Jewish people. The Romans, of course, also kept many records. Moreover, the gospels mention scribes many times, not only as followers of Jesus but the scribes connected with the high priests. And nothing about the Jesus. Nada! Not even something chiseled on a wall or carved into a tree like: "Jesus Loves Mary Magdalene".

      John 21:25 King James Version (KJV)
      25And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

      Golly Gee! You would think a fellow this "gifted" , would have at least been mentioned by one of these historians.
      There is a line in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar that says:"The rocks themselves would start to sing".

      Hmm...

      We don't even have a wooden shelf that Jesus might have built. Or anything written by Jesus. God incarnate, and we don't even have a Mother's day card signed by Him.

      Mark 3:7- 8 King James Version (KJV)
      7But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great mult_itude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,
      8And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great mult_itude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

      Yet, not one of these adoring fans, bothered to draw a picture, chisel a bust, or even write down a description. Even Mohammad has a description. Virtually all important people do. And god, being god, could have preserved it.

      Huge groups of people following a man who had performed miracles...yet no historian of the time, commented on it.

      The Dead Sea Scrolls did not mention Jesus or have any New Testament scripture, as some have claimed.

      Jesus, if he existed, was not considered important enough to write about by any contemporary person. The myth hadn't had a chance to flourish. The future stories and miracles needed time to grow and spread.

      Paul's writings were the first, about Jesus. But, Paul's writing was done 25 to 30 years after Jesus was dead. In a primitive, ultra-supersti_tious society, 25 years is a lot of time for a myth to grow. Twenty-five years was most of the average person's lifespan in the 1st Century.

      No television, No electric lights. People mostly sat around and told stories... Ever played "telephone"? A story is started at the beginning of a group. Each person passes the story along to the next person. The person at the end retells the story and it is compared to the original. Often the ending story is totally different from the original.
      Also, when you have a superhero, it is beyond belief that this hero's deeds would not get better in the telling.

      "The Messiah must be a descendent of King David. (Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24) Although the Greek Testament traces the genealogy of Joseph (husband of Mary) back to David, it then claims that Jesus resulted from a virgin birth, and, that Joseph was not his father. " – Copyright 2008 – Jews for Judaism
      The authors of the gospels, blew it. They gave Spiderman oops, I mean Jesus, two separate genealogies. Both claiming to be that of Joseph.

      There is NO mention of Herod's massacre of the infants, by any scholars of Jesus' day.

      There is NO evidence that there was a custom for the Romans to release a prisoner during Passover.

      Some people feel that Paul, not Jesus, is the real father of what most Christians believe today (Pauline Christianity).
      Paul never actually met Jesus. His knowledge and faith was the result of hearsay and an epileptic "vision".
      "In more recent times, this opinion has found support from the fact that sight impediment-including temporary blindness lasting from several hours to several days-has been observed as being a symptom or result of an epileptic seizure and has been mentioned in many case reports."
      Source: http://www.epilepsiemuseum.de/alt/paulusen.html

      The Christian Right has embraced Paul as the moral lawgiver. Paul's First Ep_istle of Paul to the Thessalonians, is often quoted by the Republicans. You never hear them quote Jesus' advice to the rich. You don't bite the hand that feeds you.

      Questions on the Crucifixion story:
      "Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save." Mark 15:31
      "Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe..." Mark 15:32

      It would appear, that the chief priests are admitting that Jesus "saved" others. If they knew this, then there is no reason for them to demand that Jesus descend from the cross, in order for them to believe. They already admitted to knowing of Jesus' "miracles".
      This is just an obvious embellishment by Mark. A work of fiction possibly constructed to make it appear that some Old Testament "prediction" was fulfilled. Like:

      "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting." – Isaiah 50:6

      "The claim that Jesus will fulfill the Messianic prophesies when he returns does not give him any credibility for his “first” coming. The Bible never speaks about the Messiah returning after an initial appearance. The “second coming” theory is a desperate attempt to explain away Jesus’ failure." – Copyright 2008 – Jews for Judaism

      Actually the tasks left undone, are the result of Jesus being a myth. Consider, that it's been 2000+ years. I don't think those "other" tasks are gonna be done. LOL

      Here is another:
      1 Corinthian 15:14-17 – Paul says Christianity lives or dies on the Resurrection.

      1 Corinthians 15:4 "4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures"

      Matthew 12:40 – Jesus said, that He would be buried three days and three nights as Jonah was in the whale three days and three nights.

      Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning is only 2 days at the most. Or, if you count Friday and Sunday as entire days, then you could get 3 days and 2 nights. This is a gimme though. The Mary's went to the grave at sunrise and it was empty.
      Obviously, the believers spin this like a pinwheel. I have seen explanations like: Jesus was actually crucified on Wednesday or maybe Thursday; The prophesy actually means 12 hour days, and not 24 hour days; The partial days are counted as full days. This one is true, but still doesn't add up.
      At any rate, the crucifixion day and number of days and nights Jesus spent in the grave, is disputed.
      It looks very much like, that Jesus was not in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights. The prophecy was not fulfilled.
      1 Corinthian 15:14-17 – Paul says Christianity lives or dies on the Resurrection. Hmm...

      And what of this?:
      Jesus had healed a woman on the Sabbath!:
      Luke 13 31:33 KJV
      31The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.
      32And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
      33Nevertheless I must walk to day, and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

      NOTE that Jesus is saying, it is impossible for a prophet (Himself) to be killed outside of Jerusalem.

      Yet, Jesus WAS killed outside Jerusalem!
      Calvary or Golgotha was the site, outside of ancient Jerusalem’s early first century walls, at which the crucifixion of Jesus is said to have occurred. OOoopsie!

      And there is this:
      According to Luke 23:44-45, there occurred "about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour, and the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst."
      Yet not a single secular mention of a three hour ecliptic event got recorded. 'Cause it didn't happen!

      Mathew 27 51:53
      51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ crucifixion and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
      How come nobody wrote about zombies running through the cities? 'Cause it is all b.s.

      An interesting note, which should not be ignored:
      "The same phenomena and portents of the sudden darkness at the sixth hour, a strong earthquake, rent stones, a temple entrance broken in two, and the rising of the dead have been reported by multiple ancient writers for the death of Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 BC." – Sources Wikipedia (John T. Ramsey & A. Lewis Licht, The Comet of 44 B.C. and Caesar's Funeral Games, Atlanta 1997, p. 99–107

      Hmmm...

      If you can't even believe the crucifixion story how likely is the resurrection account to be true? In a book that is a mix of fiction and "fact", how do you know which is which? Especially, since all of the bible seems very unlikely and does not fit with the reality we see around us.?

      Then there is the "testimony" of Jesus himself, who explicitly stated that some of his disciples would not die until Jesus inst_ituted the Kingdom, and that his generation would not pass away until all his prophecies of the end of the world had been fulfilled:
      [Jesus Speaking]
      Matthew 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

      I know, spin, spin, spin. But the truth is, the authors of the Gospels wrote that Jesus would be back in the 1st Century.
      Jesus could not be wrong and be god. Gossip and deceit, could.

      If Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God, who died for man's redemption, then this would be the most important event in the history of man.
      Having gone to the trouble of impregnating a human and being born god incarnate and dying for mankind's sins, why wouldn't god have ensured there was tons of evidence that this was true? Multiple Writings by contemporary eyewitnesses – Jews and Romans and Greeks.
      You are going to want to say that there IS lots of evidence, but look at reality: There are way more people, in the world, who are not Christians (67%) than who are (33%). Obviously, the evidence is not adequate to convince even a majority of the world's people.
      I would expect better performance from an almighty god.?

      You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep-seated need to believe. – Carl Sagan

      Cheers!

      January 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  14. JM

    @Adam – and his mother prompted him to do it, to which he had originally replied, "Woman! What would you have me do?" And, she – in her own mothererly way, ignores him and tells the waiters, "Do what ever he says." and walks away. It's one of the funniest gospels in the new testament.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Adam

      I agree... you just have to read it and imagine the whole thing playing out.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • JM

      And after that it was, Hey – you know our neighbor, Jacob, his tomato plants are having trouble this season – why don't you help him out with that and while you're at it, his wife – she gets those awful headaches ...

      January 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  15. Mr Mark

    So, let's add more make believe to the make believe already in the Bible, right?

    That's the attraction of Xianity to the masses – it can be whatever you want it to be. You're even allowed to make-up stuff about it simply to make you feel good. All you need do is call it "tradition" or creative "scholarship." That gets the sheeple smiling and – most important – keeps them filling the church coffers with money that would be better spent elsewhere.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • GodIsTheWay

      no, that's the pagan beliefs that are made to order. Being pagan is like eating at McDonalds.. bland, empty, unfulfilling, and ultimately will make you fat off of gluttony. Being Christian, though, is more like eating a thick, juicy steak.. it fills you up nicely.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      steak? I think it's a lot more like Kool-Aid.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Heh

      @*facepalm*: That would be because you're about as bright as a burnt out bulb.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • GodIsTheWay

      Facepalm.. I understand, you're angry and bitter. You say such hateful things because, being a closet ho-mo-se-x-ual is never easy. You have to deny your own unclean longings just to fit in. I know how it feels to be persecuted, too. I'm a Christian on the CNN Belief Blog.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • john

      speaking of make believe in books. my history book from junior high is now 1/3rd wrong because they made stuff up and is now wrong.. interesting huh

      January 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @GITW – very xtian of you. Nice work. Your god would be proud.

      I'm neither angry nor bitter. Having stopped drinking the kool-aid, I'm happier than ever.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • john

      facepalm. trust me. you are still drinking the koolaid. youve only switched flavors.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Really? How so, john? What Kool-Aid am I drinking? What am I accepting just because someone tells me or, or because of some hearsay account? Please enlighten me.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • GodIsTheWay

      Facepalm... you can lie to yourself, but not to me. Every word I've read from you has been angry, bitter vitriol. I'm sorry your so angry. You sound like you need a hug. I, however, am a straight male, so you'll need to find someone else to administer it.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @GITW, sarcasm != bitterness. Sorry if that goes over your head. But given the persecution complex you've already admitted to, I wouldn't expect you to view it otherwise.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • FrankJBones

      @GITW: Ad hominem attacks do nothing to support your arguments. Also, the McDonald's vs. Steak argument is laughable.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  16. JMysh

    Nicely done Mr. Martin. Though certainly not a "court jester" Jesus clearly had a sense of humor (He should, since He created humor). The man Christ Jesus was truly a man's man, embodying every attribute of humanity that we find admirable, for He was what believers in HIm will one day become. "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him." (1 John 3:2b).

    January 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • J. Scott

      Jesus created humor? So the hundreds of thousands of people around the world well before the birth of Jesus wouldn't laugh when someone slipped on a banana peel?

      January 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • iamacamera

      There weren't any bananas before Jesus was born. Everyone knows that. What's wrong with you?

      January 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @JMysh

      You said: "The man Christ Jesus was truly a man's man, embodying every attribute of humanity that we find admirable, for He was what believers in HIm will one day become."

      Yes, we will all become like Him one day... Dead.

      Cheers!

      January 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • JMysh

      Reply to J.Scott: It may be helpful to you to find out what Christians actually believe before you begin criticizing their beliefs. Christians believe Jesus is God, the Creator of the Universe. Not easy to understand, but true nonetheless.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Ogre

      iamacamera
      "There weren't any bananas before Jesus was born."

      Yeh, they ate yucky figs and fish with mustard... and manna - oooh, I h..a..t..e manna, blech!

      January 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  17. YBP

    There's nothing funny about an unlettered, misguided and failed fanatic, flayed, impaled and eaten off a wooden cross as carrion. That's history. Shrt and sweet. Little else is known. A generation later, Saul of Tarsus dreamed up something else entirely as part of a brilliant and lethal money-making scam that has fed on the uneducated and misinformed, and tried desperately to consume the rest of us for nearly two thousand years. No. Not funny. Not at all.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Observer

      YBP: you have a testament I have not seen. Were is it to be found?

      January 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • JMysh

      To YBP: If Jesus was as you say, and yet is still the most admired man in the history of humanity, and you being someone very few have ever heard of or admired, how far down the line does that put you? As you think about this, don't despare, for you are just the kind of person Jesus came to restore a right relationship with. Perhaps you should do your own primary reasearch into His life, rather than relying on others opinions. I'd like to recommend you start by reading the New Testament for yourself.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Yes, YPB, I'm sure Paul saw this as a money making scam. As he sat there in prison, and as he was beaten by those who disagreed with him, all he could think of was, "Wow, I'm raking it in!" Or, perhaps, he did what he did because he truly believed Jesus was the Christ.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • YBP

      Yeah, norray for Jesus and famous he has become. I'll take my life over his any day. But I am not comparing myself to a make-believe "vision" that Saul of Tarsus claims to have had. (Today he would be locked up in an asylum for his own protection. let alone ours). An imaginary person called "Jesus Christ," which translates to "God's Salvation" (Jesus), "the Anointed" (Christ). Even an eight-year-old could have come up with such a name. Today we would call him David Koresh. You guys need to do some reading, and by that I mean books by educated people, historians, archeologists, professors of biblical studies, and most importantly, Jews. Actually, most of the books I have read are by seminary professors. They know the truth, and so does the clergy they taught. But the organization, the money and power machine that is, is far too important for them to discuss history and first century Judaism with any real honesty or objectivity. Get to Barnes and Noble as quickly as you can! And open your mind. The only way to find a sense of humor in any of this is to have a very strange and grim sense of the absurd.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • YBP

      @VanHagar: Paul was an apostate Jew who was trying to pull one over on everyone by making a living in the religious business. His preaching had nothing to do with the kingdom of god movement that got Yehuda the Galilean, Yeshua the Nazorean and Yohanan the Baptizer killed. Once Paul got to Rome, he found that the worldy and educated Romans weren't buying what he was selling. They had heard it all before...mostly from bedtime stories that they themselves had borrowed from the Greeks. Paul only had himself to blame, rotting in prison. And perhaps he drank a batch of his own kool-aid, and after a while, yes, he probably did believe in his visions himself. But his plan backfired for him personally. Many others, however, have had great success, and have enjoyed unthinkable wealth and power in this business, preying on the uneducated and the misinformed, selling them fear and forgiveness. No, it's still not funny.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • VanHagar

      And yet, still, you provide no proof that Paul was motivated by money–just a bunch of conclusions. If you have sources, please refer them to me...I find myself in bookstores on a regular basis too.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  18. p

    Jeuss is a pretty cool guy. eh jokes about houses on sand and doesnt afraid of anything.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  19. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your back.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you crave the smell of kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  20. J.W

    Jesus seemed like a cool dude. He would probably like to party if he were here today.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Adam

      What was Jesus's first miracle? He was at a party, they ran out of wine, so he turned water into wine. Good wine too. Not the cheap stuff.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Observer

      How come the Bible makes no mention of cannabis or opium? Surely they were well known.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      what observer? you really think the 'resins' the 'wise men' brought were Frankincense and Myrrh? 😛

      January 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      Observer-
      who says it doesnt? there were other gospels that were not selected to be included in the final version of the bible. imagine that – voted on what should be included and excluded...

      who says it didnt? the catholic church had a monopoly on literacy for several centuries. they also were the ones responsible for translating, transcribing, and (probably did some) adjusting to the original content to make it fit nicer and to remove anything too bawdy or salacious. if jesus existed, he could have been part of the hippie drug counter culture of his day.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.