Jesus Behaving Badly

Even among non-believers, there exists the idea that Jesus was the model of virtue, compassion and selflessness. After all, the New Testament is filled with stories of him nobly healing the sick and suffering – right? Today, I want to barbecue that sacred cow and show where the gospels portray Jesus to be a calculated manipulator – someone who uses people as pawns in a game in which he and his Sky Daddy conspire together in order to make themselves look good.

First, let’s look at perhaps the most notable miracle which Jesus purportedly performed – that of raising Lazarus from the dead.

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
John 11:1, 3 (NIV)

So, here we have a sick man who Jesus is supposed to care about. His sisters reach out for help. What does the infinitely compassionate Jesus do?

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
John 11:5-7 (NIV)

That’s right folks. Instead of rushing to the aid of his dearly-loved friend, Jesus farts around for a couple of days before heading out to respond to this cry for help. In the news sometimes, we hear stories where 911 operators drop the ball in getting help to an emergency situation, but according to the Bible, the Creator of the Universe hold the world record for absolute worst emergency response time.

But… according to the author of the Gospel of John, it’s all cool because Jesus had a plan! He wasn’t being a dick for no reason. No, this was all for the greater good… or at least so that Jesus and his virgin-impregnating daddy could make themselves look good:

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
John 11:4 (NIV)

Well, okay then. It’s all for a good cause, I guess.

When Jesus finally does show up, Lazarus has already been in the tomb for four days. His sisters are heartbroken over the loss of their brother, and by the fact that Jesus had failed to come and prevent this tragedy.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
John 11:33-36 (NIV)

Perhaps Jesus had some remorse over his heartless actions, but personally, I’m not buying the whole thing about him being deeply moved and troubled. Looks suspiciously like alligator tears. Remember, this is the guy who in a very calculated manner used Lazarus as a pawn in his exercise in self-promotion. This Jesus character in the gospel stories could easily have arrived in time to prevent the death of his friend. There would have been no need for Lazarus to have experienced the agony of dying. No reason for his sisters to suffer the grief of losing their brother.

But he didn’t.

Why? Quite simply because he wanted to impress people. He wanted to glorify himself and Yahweh. The suffering and death of Lazarus was useful to furthering their agenda. While this sort of behavior might be expected of a North Korean dictator, it is quite nauseating to see it venerated in a religion.

When you read about God’s ‘glory’, understand that we are talking about his ego. The god of the Bible likes to look good. He wants people to be impressed with him. Apparently his self-esteem needs frequent propping up. Of course, Christians have tried to put some noble, spiritual sheen on God’s need for glory. They’ve framed it in their minds as something admirable, when in actuality it’s despicable and pathetic.

“But,” some Christians will argue, “Jesus was busy ministering to needy people where he was at. If he had left immediately to care for Lazarus, then others would have missed out on their healing.”

Sorry apologist, but your own Bible refutes that argument:

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed… Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
Matthew 8:5-8, 13 (NIV)

In the magical world of BibleLand, there was no need for Jesus to be physically present to heal Lazarus. All he had to do was say the word, as in the case of the centurion’s servant. But he didn’t. We are left with the inescapable conclusion that Jesus is a self-promoting, people-using, uncaring jerk. Not traits that we would want to emulate.

If you are still skeptical and think I haven’t built a strong enough case, let’s look at one final example:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
John 9:1-3 (NIV)

Here you have the plain assertion that God divinely orchestrated this man’s birth defect – blindness – so that Jesus and his sociopathic father could look good by healing him. Yes, I did say sociopathic, because of certain demonstrated traits: grandiose sense of self, poor behavioral control, manipulative, lack of empathy… This ‘miracle’ would be analogous to a scientist deliberately introducing a genetic defect into a fetus so that years later his doctor son could be a hero by producing a cure. What is criminal and despicable behavior by human beings does not magically transubstantiate into something good and praiseworthy when acted out by a deity.

If Christians want to take the gospels as sources for knowing about the Galilean they so idolize, are they at all disturbed when these sources reveal a Jesus behaving badly? While the Bible is merely a work of fiction, the disturbing reality is that billions on our planet believe that selfish Jesus and his glory-hungry dad are real, and seek to legislate and live in ways that would appease them.

Written by J. M. Green