Jesus Jukes

Jesus Jukes

If you haven’t heard of or seen “Stuff Christians Like”, check on it because Jon Acuff is usually hilarious, sometimes too snarky, but definitely observant when it comes to Christians’ ridiculous/goofy quirks.  One in particular is the Jesus Juke, which Jon says is:

Like a football player juking you at the last second and going a different direction, the Jesus Juke is when someone takes what is clearly a joke filled conversation and completely reverses direction into something serious and holy.

…I once tweeted about going to see Conan O’Brien live and how big the crowd was. Someone wrote back, “If we held a concert for Jesus and gave away free tickets, no one would come.”

So, turning the light-hearted into a Christian “Debbie Downer” moment.  If you’re familiar, do you notice some feelings that it produces in you, like guilt/shame when you’re being juked, or religious pride/self-satisfaction when you’re juking others?  Not cool.

But on the other hand, there are those times when I need a little juking, or something.  Sometimes I do need to be held accountable, or I feel the desire to hold those I love accountable.   How do we do it without being a self-righteous juke-jerk?  How do we change direction, even abruptly, without beating up on ourselves or others?  The only way I see is this:  leave the juking to Jesus.

For one, that is something he does often and well.  Jesus knew (and knows) how to flip the script on people, to shake up assumptions, without inflicting damage on us.  Continuing in Mark (2:1-11) there is a stark example.  We’ve followed Jesus in Galilee, and the explosion of miraculous deeds he’s been doing — defeating evil and healing illness.  Naturally, Jesus is now quite popular; but here in this crowded house, I think the story gets suddenly waaay deeper.

Because, Jesus seems really pleased by the actions and faith of the paralyzed man and his buddies who tear through the roof to see him.  But the scene doesn’t play out like usual.  Jesus doesn’t say, “That’s good faith you have there, and now (*SHAZAM*) your friend will walk again.”  He turns to the paralyzed one on the mat, saying, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Juked their faces off.

I wonder if there was awkward or intent silence.  “What did he say?”  Think about their different reactions.  I bet somebody there was disappointed — the paralyzed man, his buddies, or others — because they were expectinghealing.  Somebody heard Jesus say, “your sins are forgiven” and was truly let down.  If you’re reading this passage for the first time, with curiosity or even with great hope about Jesus, wondering if he might be as special as all these Christians make out, you might currently feel let down a little too.

You might say something like, “Here we go, Jesus starting in on the religious talk, bringing up an antiquated, superstitious idea like ‘sin’.”  As Americans in general we seem to shy away from some tradition, the sin and hell business, in favor of accentuating the positive.  We see ourselves in a morally-decent light; we do our best and don’t cause too terrible much harm; what faults we have are usually linked to something in our environment, our experience, or our biology.  Agreed, a little?

Well, Jesus is encroaching on that; with this one statement, he’s made it so that we can’t use him for just some wise sayings or the “golden rule”.  To take him at his own word here, and to give him any credibility at all, we’ll have to admit what he’s taking for granted about us:  that we’re far from perfect and need to be forgiven.  And he implies that he specifically is the one to do the forgiving.  Whatever expectations are brought to Jesus in Mark 2, back then or even today, he jukes things good.

There were other feelings present in the room that day, too.  We know that the Jewish people at the time were instead very familiar with their own sinfulness.  Moses’ Law, and especially the human exaggeration of the Law, made faith something that was a terrible burden.  In actuality, God had given the people huge ways to atone for sin, a whole system of sacrifice and redemption; but the ones in charge downplayed God’s grace and played-up human guilt.  Personal sin was a stout, unshakable reality.  So, when Jesus says what he says about forgiveness, the religious leaders are deeply disturbed.  This forgiveness came too easy; and who is this Jesus, a man, who claims such authority and puts himself at God’s level?

But most importantly, on the flip side, I bet somebody there heard these words and wondered, “Can it be?  Can Jesus do that?  …could he, for me?”

In the context of their world, THAT was a far larger step of faith than breaking through a roof in search of physical healing.  But that they might all know his authority, Jesus still ordered the man to walk.  What a juke it all was.  A paralyzed man walking became the second most powerful deed of the day.  Because he was also now a forgiven child of God.  Handling the other-than-expected is hard.  Admitting our imperfection is harder, and deeply personal.  But with Jesus healing/forgiveness is just as personal.  Be juked.




4 thoughts on “Jesus Jukes

  1. So are you saying we should ignore, As for those who are guilty and persist in sin, rebuke and admonish them in the presence of all, so that the rest may be warned and stand in wholesome awe and fear.-1 Timothy 5:20? Or what about, “But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I protested and opposed him to his face [concerning his conduct there], for he was blameable and stood condemned.”-Galatians 2:11″. Are you saying that the apostle Paul is guilty of juking? If the person being “juked” as you call it feels ashamed, then their own conscious bears witness against them that they are wrong. It seems that what you are teaching is to despise the chastisement of the Lord when the Word of God says, “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.-Proverbs 3:11-12” saying the same message in Job 5:17, and Hebrews 12. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
    -Hebrews 12:7-8
    Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
    -Hebrews 12:11
    Seems like this messages deprives people of yeildi peaceable fruits of righteousness. The Word of God disagrees with this message of “Jesus Juking”.

    1. Well, I think you’re terribly mistaken, my friend, if I understand your prooftexting correctly. It sounds like you think I’m opposed to Christian accountability, or God’s accountability of us. The latter is actually the whole point of my post — that God (Christ) is the ultimate source of any accountability and has to be involved if our accountability is to be worthwhile or wholesome. The entire post points to Jesus as the One who is able to juke us all, and juke us effectively. I guess I could’ve gone deeper into mutual human accountability and how it can be done the right way, but that’s not where the text was taking us; I see the focus in this passage on how Jesus was powerful at “juking” folks by turning an ordinary day into a miraculous occasion, both by the physical healing but even more by drawing the crowd to engage sin/forgiveness. I never oppose sincere, God-led accountability in the post; I was critiquing the kind of “accountability” that is selfish and Pharisaic, to the point that it is not of God whatsoever and it doesn’t benefit those being spoken to. There are countless Scripture passages that I can cite for YOU that indicate that such self-righteousness is utterly opposed to God and God’s Word, anti-Christian, and absurd. The overarching message of my post is for believers to be cautious/discerning with “juking” or a word of accountability or chastisement, etc., because if it isn’t Spirit-led and Christ-centered then it can be, frankly, evil.

      So. Try to do better hearing what someone is actually saying. Your prooftexting sound-off is pretty reminiscent to me of the very false accountability that is not of God. Check it.

      1. It seems very much like you are guilty of the very thing that you accuse others of when saying to me “Try to do better hearing what someone is actually saying.” You even went as far to say that, “Your prooftexting sound-off is pretty reminiscent to me of the very false accountability that is not of God” when in fact, 95% of the text I posted are direct quotes from the Word of God. How then can you say that it is not of God? They said the same to Jesus when they were offended by Him. They told Him that He wasn’t of God and even went as far as to say that He had a devil. Jesus warned them about committing blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
        While you say to leave the juking to Jesus, who do you think He left that up to? Are you familiar with the fact that the saints are to judge the world (1 Corinthians 6:2)? Why then do people make it seem that no man can judge another when Jesus left the judgement up to us while we are on Earth? He operates through us. People even go as far as half-quoting Matthew 7 by only quoting the first two verses. If we read further we see in verse 5 that we must FIRST judge the thing from our lives and THEN we will see clearly to judge it from others with a righteous judgement (John 7:24). So we ARE supposed to judge, but not while we are doing the same thing. We wont escape judgment by judging another for it. (Romans 2)
        Another thing that you said was about turning a joke filled conversation into something serious and holy. Doesn’t the Word of God warn us against joking around foolishly? Doesn’t Ephesians 5 tell us to walk in love but avoid “fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, NOR FOOLISH TALKING, NOR JESTING, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” So would we despise the person who desires all to be holy just as God commanded, be ye holy for I am holy? (Leviticus 20:7, 1 Peter 1:15, 16) Why would we despise that in place of foolish talking or joking?
        With what you said to me it is hard to see that you truly act “like Christ”. If you feel that I reviled you, then why do you revile me in return? Is that what Jesus did or did He turn the other cheek? There is a false form of Christianity that has been spread for hundreds of years and we all need to examine our lives closely that we do not fall into it. If any teaching cannot be backed up with the Word of God then it must be rejected because a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9, 1 Corinthians 5:6) So while you tell me that I should understand you better, you also, as the teacher that you desire to be, should quote more of the Word of God to support your doctrine.
        My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.-James 3:1

      2. I apologize if I was judgmental for my part. But can’t you agree that just because you quote pieces of Scripture doesn’t mean what you are saying is “of God”? Scripture can be applied and abused any kind of way. As a side-note, I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to compare your place in this conversation with Christ’s situation in Matthew 12. That’s not legit.

        And, again, I totally agree that God has entrusted a huge part of accountability to us. I think it’s vital for Christians to discern right and wrong, and to hold ourselves and the world accountable to that, speaking the truth in gentleness and love. I’m just saying that human accountability has to be done right, in accord with God’s way and desire.

        Also, no, I do not think there’s anything wrong with turning a joke-filled conversation towards more holy or serious things, or even towards sad or scary things. Acuff’s critique of the jukes is that Christians need to be mindful about why they are doing the juking, what spirit it’s done in, what benefit they expect of it, how often they find themselves doing it, and truly whether or not it is Christ-glorifying in its context. I guess I can agree that foolish joking is terribly bad, but that depends heavily on how you define “foolish.” When Ephesians 5 speaks of μωρολογία and εὐτραπελία, that doesn’t include all forms of humor, or nuance or the use of figures of speech.

        I don’t despise anyone, particularly “the person who desires all to be holy just as God commanded.” But I don’t think it’s holy to use self-centered, self-righteous, religiously prideful speech, even to allegedly hold others accountable. What you’re saying would be like someone saying, “How dare Jesus get after those Pharisees so firmly, when all they are trying to do is be holy and keep others holy?” According to the totality of Scripture, Jesus was harsher in his handling of those teachers of the Law who called themselves “holy” than the prostitutes and tax collectors. I’d say there are manners of joking that can be extremely holy, and manners of serious speech that can be extremely sinful, and vice versa.

        And I definitely don’t revile you. I think you deeply misunderstood my post. It feels to me like you’re mishandling Scripture, and that in general is not cool to me; I hate to see how, in general, that can do harm to the witness of Christ’s Church. I shouldn’t lump you into a category; I just thought your comments were off-base. I certainly agree that teaching must be grounded in Scripture, but just because I don’t pepper my blog comments with Biblical citations doesn’t mean my words aren’t in agreement with Scripture. Just because someone does quote Scripture doesn’t mean he/she is in line with the heart of the Word of God, right?

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