When Jesus is teaching against anxiety and worry, He uses the striking image of those who run out of worries for the day, and so they have to get an advance. I don’t have enough troubles — and so I have to borrow some from next week. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Mt. 6:34).
He also took a dim view of those insufferable critics who are never satisfied. If a righteous man comes to them doing something, they wish he had come doing the opposite. But when the next righteous man comes along doing that very thing, lo and behold, now their preference goes back to the first guy.
But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. (Mt. 11:16–19; Lk. 7:31–35)
Jesus was not above using ethnic humor to make His point either.
And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Mt. 15:22–28; Mk. 7:27)
My understanding of this encounter is that Jesus was pulling his disciples’ chain. This woman was not a Jew, and the Jews had problems dealing with such people, considering them beneath contempt — in a word, dogs. Put in terms that we might be more familiar with, Jesus was white, and the disciples were white, and this black woman comes up seeking healing, for her daughter. She gets ignored. The disciples ask Jesus to send her off. She comes up and beseeches Christ for healing. It’s not right, He says, to give perfectly good white folk food to “niggers.” Disciples mentally cheer. But she sees the look in His eye, and the inverted commas around the epithet, and answers in kind. He relents, which was His intent all along, and heals the woman’s daughter. If this understanding is right, then Jesus was using a racial insult to make a point. If it is not correct, then He was simply using a racial insult. In either case, His language is more than a little rough.
All things considered, we can see that Christ’s use of satire in controversy hardly qualifies him as the original verbal pacifist. Quite the reverse. If there is anyone in Scripture who uses this form of expression as the most normal thing in the world, it is the Lord. [end of chapter]