I read a book called Lamb over the weekend. The author, Christopher Moore, put together a hilarious take on Christ’s life as told by Christ’s best friend, Biff. It was gritty and colorful (both in its telling and in its language – read: lots of swearing and sexual situations).
I loved that the story was gritty because I believe that life is gritty and raw. I believe that more often than not, life is messy. Life is change and evolution and growth and development and loss and loosely controlled chaos.
We are all on the verge of being tagged out of this great game of life – and yet we mostly live our lives with a somewhat misguided belief that we are immortal. That’s why we’re shocked when something bad happens.
Sure, there are some of us who are better at faking the control. There are some who might say, “aw, Em, cute – but I have this all wrapped up!”
But I believe for the rest of us, despite our best efforts, we often find ourselves putting out more fires during the day than checking things off of our “to do” lists – and that’s ok. My dad liked to quote a Beetle (or someone) who said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
So I loved the grittiness of Lamb.
And I loved that Jesus had a sense of humor in the story. Yes, the book still portrayed him as innocent, but I loved that his best friend taught him sarcasm (which he used very moderately in the book). The Bible is great at telling us a lot about Jesus – what he did, his virtues and character – but I kind of wonder about his sense of humor. Was he playful? Did he ever play pranks on the disciples? I wonder if he ever short sheeted Peter’s bedroll or teepeed John’s tent. Did Jesus spend time on the banks of the Jordan, hanging out with his friends and pondering some of the great mysteries, like: if Elijah and Moses were in a cage match – who would win?
Why does it matter if Jesus had a sense of humor? I dunno. I guess I just like the idea of knowing the person of Jesus – I like to imagine what it would be like if Jesus walked in the door and said hello. Would he have a booming voice or a quiet disposition? Would he shake my hand or give me a big hug?
I loved that Lamb painted a picture of Jesus that was so much richer than what I am able to glean from the Bible because so much of the Bible gets lost in cultural translation. Perhaps there ARE elements of Jesus’ sense of humor embedded in the stories about Him – but humor in each culture is so subtle, it’s hard to pick up just by reading without studying the culture further. And we all know that when you have to explain the joke, it really becomes less funny anway. I am sure “That’s what she said” would be completely lost on ancient Jews. And I can only imagine how future generations will interpret our jokes.
But I also felt convicted while reading Lamb.
Not because I was reading a story that was an irreverent and somewhat scandalous telling of Jesus’ life, but because as I read this story, I was struck by Biff’s unbelief. I don’t want to ruin the story in the case that you decide to read it, but generally speaking, I was surprised that this character Biff could literally WALK with Jesus for practically of his life and so miss the point on so many occasions. It reminded me that I often miss the point. It reminded me that I so frequently forget who Jesus is and get distracted by my own selfish desires.
I don’t know if the author intended for this result – I think the author wrote this book to provide a humorous explanation for what happened to Jesus between the ages of 6 and 32. And perhaps the author knew enough Christians to know how many of us often spend all of this time learning about Jesus and God and MISSING THE POINT; there are so many of us who KNOW much, but BELIEVE little.
The disciples didn’t always understand what Jesus meant, but they believed in Him. They were willing to stake it all on Him. They believed He was who He said He was.
So yeah – I liked Lamb. It’s not for everyone, but it’s great satire.