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Djesus Uncrossed

If you watched Saturday Night Live this past weekend, then you probably came across the sketch, “Djesus Uncrossed.”  It re-imagines Jesus as a character in a Quentin Tarantino revenge flick.  Jesus rolls away the stone, and then he and the disciples begin to exact their revenge on the Romans with ninja swords and machine guns.

Disclaimer: This is pretty violent, and there is a little language, so viewer discretion is advised.

At its best, it is just absurd, and at its worst, it is offensive. However, I think one of my friends put it best when he said it was “blasphemously funny.” The humor comes from the fact that the actions of Jesus and his disciples are so out of character for them. The question of offensiveness probably rests on whether it was done specifically to malign Christians (which, for the record, I don’t think was the goal).

As I was trying to sort out how I felt about the sketch, something occurred to me: This is the Jesus that people wanted.

When Jesus came, he came in the wake of violent revolutions by folks like the Maccabees. It was assumed that when the Messiah appeared, that he would come as a new warrior-king of sorts who would lead a violent defeat of the Romans who oppressed the Jews. Herod, in all of his paranoia, called for the murder of the Holy Innocents because it was assumed that the overthrow would be a king’s political and military take-over.

This is who everyone expected Jesus to be.

His followers kept waiting for the beginning of the revolution. His enemies wanted to take him down because they feared an insurgency.

Jesus bucked all of their expectations because, as Stanley Hauerwas points out, instead of coming on a war horse (which incidentally Djesus rides on), Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey.

Instead of leading a violent revolution, he suffers the violence of a world that cannot stop warring with itself.

Even when his followers try to defend him with violence, Jesus stops them. When Peter takes out his sword and cuts off the high priest’s servant’s ear, depending on which Gospel you read, Jesus says, “No more of this!” (Luke 22:50-51); “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword”; or “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11).

It is for this reason that the early church was decidedly nonviolent until Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. Then we have stories of Roman soldiers being baptized with the arm they use to hold their sword sticking up out of the water.

Jesus is decidedly the opposite of Djesus. Yet, many in Jesus’ day would have preferred Djesus.

Indeed, if we are honest, I think many people in our own day would prefer Djesus.

There is always conversation and worry about portrayals of Jesus not being manly enough, so we get “church for men” gatherings complete with Jesus (looking more like Djesus) whipping the money changers and lists of how to man up your church. Part of that anxiety emerges as a result, that, try as we might, Jesus doesn’t come off looking very manly IF manly means being violent.

Jesus eschewed violence. Instead, Jesus conquered a world fascinated, obsessed, and addicted to violence by suffering the violence of the world.

His resurrection is a sign that in the end, violence will not have the victory.

  1. Nice job, Alan!

  2. Alan, good reflection here…I skipped over this with my DVR (as I do with much of SNL from time to time), but now that I think of it, this is the Djesus many end-timers want now too!

  3. Pastor Alan – Thank you for sharing another way to interpret the Djesus sketch

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