The Provocative Jesus

This was read at the end of the service at Northland today by my good friend Vernon Rainwater. He had just finished a great message on rethinking our view of God. This extended quote from Dorothy Sayers is the epitome of what it means to be a Provocative Christian. Love this and hope you will enjoy it as well.


“Author Dorothy Sayers was never one to live by convention. The only child of an Anglican clergyman, she was one of the first women to graduate from Oxford University in 1915. After graduating from Oxford, she made her living writing advertising copy until she was able to publish more and more of her fiction. In the early stages of her career, she fell in love with a member of a motorcycle gang in England, and joined them in their travels far and wide. Perhaps it was her unconventional life that led her to highlight the more unconventional side of Jesus’s own life and ministry. In a collection of essays published after her death, she wrote:”

The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore — on the contrary; they thought him too dynamic to be safe… He was tender to the unfortunate, patient with honest inquirers, and humble before Heaven; but He insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites; He referred to King Herod as “that fox”; He went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as a “gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners”; He assaulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the Temple; He drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations;

He cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other people’s pigs and property; He showed no proper deference for wealth and social position; when confronted with neat dialectical traps, He displayed a paradoxical humour that affronted serious-minded people, and He retorted by asking disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb.

He was emphatically not a dull man in His human lifetime, and if He was God, there can be nothing dull about God either. But He had “a daily beauty in His life that made us ugly,” and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without Him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness. 
Dorothy Sayers, The Whimsical Christian: Eighteen Essays (New York: Macmillan, 1978), 17.

3 thoughts on “The Provocative Jesus

  1. “He was emphatically not a dull man in His human lifetime, and if He was God, there can be nothing dull about God either”–taken from a part of the text above. Did she not believe that Jesus was God since in the quote she stated, “and if He was God.” Interesting. I wonder if she did or she did not believe Jesus was truly God. I am familiar with her name, but I have not read anything by her at least in recent years. Just curious about the “and if He was God” comment.

  2. Stef

    Sure these things were provocative but comparitively somewhat like swinging at a gnat while missing the camel.

    When he told those who want to be his disiciples that they must:
    1) Give the Father, though his WAY their WILL (DENY their own SELF determination)
    2) Pick up their burden that would be physically life threatening and was
    3) Literally go with him physically everywhere he went, while learning what it really means to overcome the world and an otherwise normal life that included leaving their entire former root system behind to include, homes, lands, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, even children and any wealth
    4) Consider oneself an adulter by lusting in ones thoughts
    5) turning the other cheek when you know they will seek to slay you as they slayed him and he said they too woudl have to voluntarily drink that cup of shedding their literal blood.
    6) disowning family as jesus did of his body’s mother, not honoring parents in place of following with him as he said to one who wanted to “bury his father” before he joined him
    7) living by faith that the Father would take care of them rather than seeking to build their own security. (not that jesus was ever against work – to the contrary, the real meaning of worship is to “work for” God

    If we are not open to looking at what he really was about then how do we expect to recognize him upon his return? Will he not demonstrate the same or even greater requirements to be worthy of that new age/world.

    Overcoming the world is not by any means a piece of cake song to sing in the country club religious institutions.

    We are not to blame for not understanding this, that is until it’s revealed to us.

    I would venture to guess that perhaps 99% of those who claim Jesus as their saviour are unaware of these passages that are very, very prominant throughout the 4 Gospels. I know those who claim to be teachers of the Gospel message love to use some of these passages as figurative examples or metaphores or as cultural idioms as it doesn’t point to Jesus being much of a family man does it. In fact doesn’t it sort of make him into a dangerous cult leader of his time?

  3. Dan Lacich

    Dewar Stef,

    Part of the driving purpose behind this blog is to help people understand how to live a radical life for Jesus so I get your passion. I am a little confused however by your last line. Could you help me understand what you mean. I am afraid that I am taking it the wrong way. It seems like it you are saying we need to be radical in following Jesus but end up saying that he operated like a cult leader.

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