Every Christmas, the story of His unusual birth is retold in countless manger scenes around the world. On Good Fridays, His sacrificial death is remembered. Then on Easter Sundays, His astonishing resurrection is celebrated.
Clearly, Jesus Christ has had a profound impact on human history like no other person has. But between His birth and death, He had a life filled with out-of-the-ordinary and sometimes-humorous deeds.
I recently combed through the four Gospels and uncovered some interesting fun facts about His life, then I compiled them into this random list of seven things you [probably] didn’t know about Jesus Christ.
Enjoy.....but just a heads up, you won’t be ready for #4.
1. JESUS SOMETIMES NEEDED "ME-TIME"
I’m an extrovert. I like hanging out with people. In fact, one Myers-Briggs profile described me as someone at a party who would become BFF with everyone I spoke with for five minutes. But I have a confession. Though as a pastor, my calling IS people, sometimes I just want to get away from people. Sometimes I don't want to pray, I don't want to counsel, I don't want to preach, I don't want to do hospital visits or funerals or weddings, or emergency demonic exorcisms! All I want to do is be alone in my car on the open road listening to God speak to my heart. In other words, I'm often jonesing for some "ME-TIME!"
I was feeling guilty about this a while back when it occurred to me that Jesus also found Himself wanting to get away from people too! [Not because they were a bother, but mostly to commune with His Father].
Jesus had to have been an extrovert; otherwise He would have lost His mind being surrounded constantly by such large crowds. In one account, the scriptures record that there were at least 5000 people gathered to hear Him speak [and that was just the men!]. Though He may have been tireless in being about the work of His Father, I have to imagine there were a few moments when He thought/said to Himself, “Maaannn, I need to get away for some ME-time.” Actually, I need not speculate because at least on seven different occasions, the scriptures tell us that Jesus withdrew from the crowds to deserted places to pray.
The lesson here is, it's okay to chill. The world is better off when you're rested and reconnected to the author and source of life!
2. JESUS HUNG OUT WITH PEOPLE YOU'D BE UNCOMFORTABLE SPENDING TIME WITH
Many of us read the Bible and like to think of the problematic religious leaders as, “The Others.” We prefer to think that if we lived back then, or if Jesus walked the earth today, we would side with Him over them. The reality, though, is that the kind of company Jesus kept would have made many of us really uncomfortable. So much so that we probably wouldn’t invite Him anytime soon to be a guest speaker at our Churches.
Before you put up an argument, allow me to introduce you to the homies Jesus rolled with:
- TAX COLLECTORS: Let’s call this group what they really are, the Mafia! Aside of the fact that these guys were Jews who worked for an oppressive brutal regime [Romans] to tax their own people, they sometimes used abusive and tyrannical means to collect those funds. Did I mention that they often collected more than was required and kept extra for themselves? Many of us us were deeply moved by the coming-to-faith story of Michael Franzese, the former mob boss for the Colombo crime family in New York. But in His pre-Jesus years, chances are, he wasn’t the kind of guy you had any intention of inviting over for dinner with your family.
- PROSTITUTES: Though this line of work still exists today, the closest comparison [to help you feel the weight of being associated with this group] would be porn actors. When was the last time you invited a porn star to your Beth Moore small group Bible study [without trying to convert her before the end of your meeting]?
- ZEALOTS: Did you know that one of Jesus’ 12 disciples was a man named, Simon the Zealot? Do you know what a modern label for a Zealot is? Terrorist! Zealots were members of a first-century Jewish political movement who often used violent and aggressive tactics to overthrow their occupying oppressors [Romans]. They even had a nickname, “The Sicarii”, which means, dagger-men. Let’s face it, this is not the group you’d be most comfortable inviting to your all-nighter prayer lock-in.
I could go on describing the different categories of people Jesus spent time with, but hopefully you get the point. In his book, “Church Transfusion”, Neil Cole makes a poignant statement. He says: “He [Jesus] did not hang out in safe places. I imagine that today you would be more likely to find Jesus in a gay bar than at a church service.” Can I get an amen? No? You mad, bro? I thought you wanted to be like Jesus? Seriously though, when was the last time you or I went to a gay bar, or invited our gay friend to hang out with the dudes, just to be a positive godly influence? See where I'm going with this?
To be clear, Jesus Christ was NOT hanging out with these people because He preferred them to “Church people.” He was NOT hanging out with them because He enjoyed their choice of lifestyle, nor was He hanging out with them because He wanted to expose their sin. Jesus spent time with them because He cared deeply about their story, and more importantly, their souls. He spent time with them because He Himself was life, and He wanted them to turn from sin, to Him, so they could experience the joy of being adopted by faith into God’s family.
Perhaps you and I can learn a thing or two from our savior?
3. JESUS HAD FRIGHTENINGLY SUPERNATURAL POWERS
Ricky Bobby once started his prayer this way, “Dear Lord Baby, …tiny infant Jesus, in your golden-fleece diapers, with your tiny, little, fat, balled-up fists….”
Some of us laughed at that prayer. Some of us experienced righteous indignation, because clearly, Lord Baby Jesus’ diapers weren’t golden. They were regular Huggies, Snug & Dry, size-1 diapers!
I'm kidding. They were size-2!
While we certainly don’t hold to the view that Jesus remained an infant His whole life, not many of us have graduated in our understanding that He was much more than just a great teacher. Listen, you can't run away from this, Jesus was odd and there was an Other-worldliness to Him. He did things that startled people and made them say, “…what manner of man is this??” which is really a 2015-way of saying, “Uh…this brotha ain’t from around here!”
Let's look at 3 of those instances:
- In Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospel, they all tell of an account where Jesus was asleep in a storm at sea when His frightened disciples had to wake Him. Fearful that the storm was about to sink the boat, they asked Jesus to intervene. Christ then stood up and demonstrated His authority and control over the natural world by telling the wind to, “knock it off!" and to "Be quiet!” [my words], which it did. Matthew 8:23-27 says the sea became literally as calm and as smooth as glass. Uh...that is NOT normal human behavior!
- Then of course, there’s that whole showdown with 5000 demons named Legion. To give you some context, here’s how powerful the demon-possessed man in question was, “…no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him.” But after an interrogation by Jesus in which the demons PLEAD with Him to spare their lives, He PERMITS them to find their new dwelling among pigs. Don’t miss how huge this is and what it says about who Jesus is! Demons have to seek out His permission before they can roam. That’s huge! Trust me, I’ve met one. Those evil suckers don’t go easy!
- Though there are several accounts where Jesus raised the dead back to life, there’s one account that stands out in my mind – the raising of the widow’s dead son. Talk about crashing a funeral! This woman’s son had been cleaned up by the funeral home, prepped and readied to be placed in the ground. Ever been to a funeral service of a teenager? Lots of people in tears, right? Imagine a middle-aged man walking up to the casket at such a gathering, speaking to the body, and the deceased teen actually rising up, looking around for his mom and reaching out to her for a hug? Can someone say, pandemonium?!? Yet, that’s how Jesus rolls and how AWESOMELY-GOD HE IS!
Allow me to wrap up this point with a quote from author, C.S Lewis. In his book, "Mere Christianity" he writes, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: [which is] “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
4. JESUS' FAVORITE FOOD WAS FISH
Okay. This one is a stretch.
But there does seem to be a lot of fish in the New Testament accounts about His life. For one, He chose to call “fishermen” as His followers. He could have called Butchers or farmers, but Noooooo…why? Because He likes fish! Two, upon His resurrection and prior to His ascension, He shares an important meal with His disciples, possibly the last meal, and what was on the menu? Yup. FISH!!!
Besides those two overwhelmingly convincing arguments, on two separate occasions (Mark 6:31-34 and Mark 8:1-9) where He feeds crowds numbering in the thousands, why in the world do you think He chose to go with the seafood option?
Say it with me, “because…Jesus….loves…FISH!”
5. JESUS LOVED TO PARTEE!
So Jesus is at a wedding party, right? The wine has run out. In the Middle Eastern culture, hospitality is greatly valued. To run out of wine on a wedding day could end up being very embarrassing for the bride and groom, and it would probably shut the party down pretty quickly! This has NOTHING to do with having enough booze to get wasted on.
Jesus gets wind of this, and though He’s clearly not set to reveal Himself to the world just yet, He goes out of His way to keep the party alive by miraculously turning several jars of water into more awesome wine! Does the Messiah know how to throw a great party or what?
Okay, that didn’t convince you? How about these?
- In Luke 14, Jesus accepts an invite to party with a Pharisee.
- At that same party, He tells a parable about another awesome party.
- In Luke 15, He tells three stories that all end with a party or some form of celebration.
- In Luke 15:10, He takes us behind the spiritual scenes and reveals that even the angels throw a party every time a person repents and turns to God.
- In Luke 5:29, Matthew the Tax Collector [the Mafia guy] throws a party for Jesus and invites all his outcast friends.
- In Luke 19:1-10, Jesus invites Himself over to Zaccheus’ house for an impromptu party.
- Have you read the book of Revelation? On multiple occasions, we see multiethnic multitudes celebrating before the throne of God. I haven’t even touched on the ultimate party every believe is still yet to attend, The Marriage feast of the Lamb.
My point? Jesus loves a good party, hence, you should throw a party this weekend and invite someone who usually doesn’t get invited to parties.
6. JESUS GOT REALLY MAD A FEW TIMES
Though many of us would never actually pray to “dear eight-pound, six-ounce newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant and so cuddly, but still omnipotent…”, we all still prefer to picture in our minds eye a, “Happy Jesus Who is Warm and Inviting” when we call on Him in prayer. After all, no one really wants to pray to Angry-Jesus!
But there are at least two occasions in the scriptures where we’re faced with the not-so-happy Jesus.
In one account, we find Him in the middle of a conversation getting really ticked at the religious leaders. He asked them a question about healing someone in need on the Sabbath and they refused to give Him an answer because their response would reveal their hypocrisy. I love the way THE MESSAGE translation of the Bible describes Jesus’ response, “He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion.” (Mark 3:5). The AMPLIFIED BIBLE throws in the word, “vexation” to describe Jesus’ emotions in that moment.
I have another confession to make; I find it impossible to picture in my mind’s eye an angry Jesus. It just doesn’t compute! Oddly enough, I can picture him pensive or quiet, but not angry. Well, too bad for me because in the next account, Jesus is not only experiencing all those angst-filled emotions, but He’s breaking stuff! In response to the temple moneychangers and animal sellers who had essentially pimped-out God’s house, Jesus makes a whip out of cords and chases them all out, while flipping over tables of all their goods and wares.
Stuff just got real!
Jesus is not only the lover of our souls, but He’s also a judge before whom we must all someday give an account. While that should be of concern to you, you can also rest in the knowledge that His anger is not a reckless or impulsive anger. In the latter scenario, His anger was rooted in His concern for the preservation of the holiness and worship of God. However, it was well within His control, it had the proper focus and motivation, it lasted for a healthy duration of time and it ended up with His intended result.
7. JESUS IS COMING BACK ...not IN A MANGER! (HINT: HE’LL HAVE A SWORD, AN ARMY, …AND A TATTOO)
I had a roommate in college who once asked me a genuine honest question about my faith. It was something along these lines, “Shegz, are you ever worried that if Jesus comes again, the uber-religious mega-Church leaders of today might persecute Him and perhaps assassinate Him like they did back in the day?” I forget the details of my response, but I do recall saying something along the lines of, "When He comes back, not only will He be packing some major heat, but He's coming back to kick some serious tail!"
The wisest man who ever lived will certainly agree with that because he once wrote that there was a time for every season, a time for every matter under heaven.
There was a time for Jesus to come as a humble servant in the form of a helpless baby. There was a time for him to humble himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
According to the scriptures, there is a time coming when, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, the dead in Christ will rise first. There is also coming that glorious moment when the sky will be ripped open and every eye will behold Christ like they’ve never seen Him. It'll be that moment when every soul will see His flaming eyes, His flowing white robe dipped in blood on the edges, an army behind Him and a sword of judgment coming out from Him, and a name tattooed on His thigh that says, “King of Kinds and Lord of Lords.” That 2nd return will be followed by a time when every knee WILL bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So, yeah. Don’t look for Him in the manger. Turn your gaze to the skies!
There's so much more to be known and said about Jesus, but the most important detail you need to know is His very personal invitation to you where He offers, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly."
May you soon come to know the great love God has for you through His Son, Jesus Christ.