It might come as a surprise that Jesus was very sarcastic, but he was. First, let us look at what sarcasm is:
1. harsh or bitter derision or irony.The origin of the word gives us a better understanding - it comes from the Greek "sarkasmos" and that comes from another word which means "to tear flesh, bite the lip in rage".
2. a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark
Sometimes sarcasm can be used to make a joke (but be careful of your audience). Sometimes it can be used to make a strong and biting point. This is how Jesus uses it more often than not.
So, was Jesus harsh, bitter, sharp, sneering, cutting, and ironic? Yes.
But, first I will give you my favorite Old Testament usage of sarcasm (there are a lot) - it comes out of 1 Kings 18. Here the prophet Elijah puts the priests of Baal that they should accept a challenge from him to see which God is best - Baal or Yahweh. So, they have a challenge to see which God would show up to burn up the sacrifice made by Elijah vs the priests of Baal.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”What you don't see in the majority of most English translations is how much Elijah was really taunting them. Here is a better translation:
"About noontime, Elijah began mocking them. ‘You’ll have to shout louder than that,’ he scoffed, ‘to catch the attention of your god! Perhaps he is talking to someone, or is out sitting on the toilet, or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened.’"Baal might be asleep? Might be on the toilet? HA HA! I love it!!!
5 Times Jesus is Sarcastic
So what about Jesus?
- Matthew 15:21-28 - Calls the Canaanite woman a "dog", which was a terribly insulting and would prick the Canaanite woman directly - she was not a Jew, the first group Jesus is sent to.
- Matthew 23 (the entire chapter) - first he says the Jewish leaders are hypocrites and the Jesus should do what they say, but not what they do. Then Jesus gives the 7 woes (full of sarcasm), then he calls the leaders "snakes, you brood of vipers"
- Mark 12:24 - Jesus asks the Sadducees "are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures of the power of God?" These were leaders who prided themselves on knowing Scriptures, so this was a terribly sarcastic and insulting statement.
- John 9 - the story of the blind man is FULL of sarcasm, but most from the blind man (and his family). Jesus last statement to the Pharisees is very sarcastic too - calling them blind.
- Luke 13:31 - Jesus calls Herod a fox.
Now, with that all being said, we are not Jesus! We have to be VERY careful with sarcasm. As anyone who knows me knows - I can be way too harsh with my sarcasm. Jesus was the only one who could always use sarcasm without sinning.
You and I are not Jesus. So, if you use sarcasm, be careful. Of course, this is coming from a sarcastic hypocrite...