The recent tasteless Saturday Night Live (SNL) satirical parody “DJesus Uncrossed” has many Christians incensed. The American Family Association contacted sponsors of the program who pledged not to allow their ads to air when that segment goes in reruns.
ChristianNews.net reported (2/20/13) that the skit, which portrays Jesus taking vengeance against his enemies with guns and a sword (He cleaves the head of a Roman soldier and shoots a hole through Judas), “has generated uproar across the country from those who find the dramatization to be blasphemous.”
The skit was intended as a spoof of the recent movie by Quentin Tarantino “Django Unchained,” which shows the freedman former slave, Django, taking vengeance on the slave owner who tortured and raped his wife and killing as many white men along the way as possible.
According to ChristianNews.net, the SNL skit “plays like a movie trailer. In the two-minute feature, Jesus is seen rolling the stone away from His tomb, and after the final push, declares in a Terminator-like fashion, ‘Guess who’s back?’” The narrator relates, “He’s risen from the dead, and He’s preaching anything but forgiveness.”
Those who protest the skit’s blasphemy of Christ are right to do so. Nevertheless, it is significant that the writers could think of no cultural icon other than Jesus to use as their foil for their skit. Who else can we think of who might have cause to come back with a vengeance to wreak havoc and judgment against those who have persecuted and tortured Him? There are other figures in history who likewise have suffered unjustly. But Jesus stands above them all as the most recognizable.
By using Jesus as their foil, SNL played off the one characteristic most people associate with Jesus, His forgiveness. The line, “He’s risen from the dead, and He’s preaching anything but forgiveness,” sets the stage for the behavior that seems incongruous — He walks around taking vengeance upon his enemies with sword and gun. The skit “works” because Jesus is portrayed, in satiric fashion, in a way that is inconsistent with His character.
Or perhaps we should say, that’s not how we commonly think of Jesus. We prefer the depiction of “Jesus meek and mild,” the one who welcomes sinners and offers us forgiveness regardless of our past foibles, follies, and faults. We’d like to think of Jesus as an unending “fountain of forgiveness” who is sitting waiting for us to come to Him to make us “right with God” — but on our own schedule and at a time that’s convenient to us.
However, this is not all there is to “the Jesus story.” Ironically, the “DJesus Uncrossed” skit has pointed to a sober truth that is also found in the Gospels, but which rarely gets much coverage. The truth is that one day Jesus Christ will return as “King of kings, and Lord of lords” and will judge and administer final justice to those who have failed to live up to God’s standard of righteousness. As Matthew 16:27 states, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”
The standard against those works — our works — will be judged is God’s moral law, the Ten Commandments, which schools no longer want children to read, and courts have ruled may not be displayed in many public venues. But they remain the standard, nonetheless. And who can say that they have kept every commandment? Who has never lied, or coveted? Who can say that they have no other gods in their life?
Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments in two, as recorded in Matthew 22:37-39:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Who among us can say we have met this standard … perfectly? As Jesus said, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
There is no one who can meet that standard of perfection. But as Colossians 2 tells us, Christ took away the requirement that was against us, and nailed it to His cross. Now we are “unchained” — loosed from the grip of sin and death, and Jesus, by His own death, “disarmed principalities and powers,” and “he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
While on earth, Jesus made it clear that when He returns He will not be “chained” in any way. In fact, besides the picture of Jesus “meek and mild” who forgives sins — and He is willing to do that — there is another picture the Bible clearly gives of Jesus.
Stephen saw Him “standing at the right hand of God” in glory. Paul was blinded by His brightness as the Lord Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus. As Paul later wrote to the Philippian Christians:
God also has highly exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In the book of Revelation, chapter 19, the Apostle John recorded the vision he was given of Jesus returning as the righteous judge of the nations:
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Some may mock Jesus now and use Him to get cheap laughs, but when He returns and descends from heaven “with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God” as 1 Thessalonians 4 tells us, only those who have humbly come to him and received His forgiveness “shall be caught up … to meet the Lord in the air” to “always be with the Lord.”
On the other hand, those who have rejected Jesus’ offer of forgiveness for their sins and spurned His sacrificial love will be cast into outer darkness where — as is recorded three times in Matthew — there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Dr. Karen Gushta is a writer and researcher for Truth in Action Ministries. She has written and edited a number of books for Truth in Action, including her most recent, How Can America Survive? The above article originally appeared on the News page of TruthinAction.org. Previous articles by Dr. Gushta can be found at that site.
Publication date: March 19, 2013