Would Jesus Watch Family Guy?

Posted: September 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

John 8:31-59

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

    34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father. [c]

    39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

    “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would [d] do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
       “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

    42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Jesus’ Claims About Himself

 48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

    49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

    52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

    54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

    57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

    58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.


Jesus’ words recorded in John 8:44 seem harsh and they have been misused throughout history to justify anti-Semitism.
Yet, scholars like Luke Timothy Johnson have shown that Jesus’ words are actually pretty tame within the context of the 1st  century Roman Empire.  The culture of the ancient near east welcomed passionate debate peppered with strong language.  It was just the culture of the day.
Moreover, some scholars speculate that Jesus’ words actually evoke Hosea 11.  Remember that quoting the Old Testament to a 1st century Jew was like quoting a Will Ferrell flick to a twentysomething dude.  He didn’t need to spell it.  One line was enough to conjure up the whole context.

Some scholars speculate that Jesus’ words are drawn from popular Jewish books of the day that equated the Devil with falsehood and error that could enslave those who bought into it.  
In other words, the Jewish leaders claim to be “sons of Abraham,” which, according the Jewish book “The Apocalypse of Abraham” presented Abraham as perfectly obedient to the law.  Thus, a “son of the devil” may have been  someone who was breaking the law even if they thought they were keeping it.  It may have even been a popular slang term.
Some scholars speculate that Jesus was drawing from all kinds of sources within the culture.  He was pretty good at that.  His chosen instrument to bring the message to non-Jews, the Apostle Paul, was no slouch at it either.

As a side note, it is always important to remember that Jesus verbal forrays with the Jewish religious leaders of the day was a family fight.  
Jesus treats the Jewish leaders as the prophets did…with straightforward language rooted in love (see Luke 13:34).
Now, all of this underscores the importance of two things: (1) knowing the history & culture behind Scripture and (2) the importance of drawing from the culture at large when speaking to others, esp. those who oppose you, or, in Paul’s case, those outside the faith altogether.
Jesus and his followers knew those outside of their own camp well enough to speak to them in their own language.
Let me ask you something, do Jesus followers know how to speak to others today?
Let me ask you another question…how many of you can even define “righteousness”, “holiness”, “justification”, etc.?  So, why do we use these terms even when speaking to the unchurched?
Unfortunately, a lot of the disconnect between Christians and non-Christians stem from the “culture wars.”
After the enlightenment, there was a division between “high culture” (i.e., music, books, etc. for the educated elite) and “low culture” (i.e., stuff for working folks).  See Pop Culture Wars by William D. Romanowski.  
The church, in the throes of the postmillennial, “we’re so smart that we can create heaven on earth” movement, adopted “high culture” and spoke against “low culture.”  
We still feel the effects today: classical music is good, rock is bad.  Shakespeare is good, movies are bad. 
Yet, popular culture (or “low culture”) is THE common language of the majority of people throughout the world…so what do you do?  You immerse self in it while viewing it through the eyes of a follower of Jesus.
SO, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to watch TV, listen to the most downloaded songs on iTunes, and watch lots of movies all for Jesus!  

If you want people to know Jesus then you can’t speak to them like someone from Mars, or worse, the planet of Holier Than Though.

So, would Jesus watch Family Guy? If that’s what it took to understand the culture at large and speak to those in it…sure he would!

*Pastor Matt’s PSA…if something tempts you to sin then DON’T watch it or listen to it or whatever…otherwise, go for it.


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