Jesus Had Them Rolling in the Aisles

I was reading the Sermon on the Mount this morning, and something occurred to me. Before today, I've always pictured Jesus sitting on the top of a gently sloping hill with people gathered all around him, sitting on the grass, or maybe on a blanket they brought from home. He has such a kind, loving face. He's so peaceful, and he smiles as he speaks about salt and light, and lists off the beatitudes one at a time in his gentle voice. Oh, wouldn't it be awesome to hear Him preach?

Jesus is sitting because back in those days, people sat down to preach. I'd have a really hard time with that, because I'm a fairly animated speaker. When I speak, I'm all over the place, from one side of the stage to the other, waving my arms and making funny faces. (I know I make funny faces because whenever someone snaps a picture of me while I'm speaking, I've always got a weird expression and my eyes are crossed and my hands are flapping above my head.) I'm pretty sure I'd be banned from speaking back then because I don't think I could stay in my seat for the length of an entire message.

Then something occurred to me. Do you think Jesus was any less animated than I? I doubt it. We know he used humor in his talks. One of his favorite forms of humor was hyperbole, which is when you exaggerate something to ridiculous proportions. The whole camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle thing. The image of a log sticking out of someone's eye. That was funny stuff, folks!

In the Sermon on the Mount there's an example. He was telling them not to be obnoxiously public about giving to the needy. He said, "Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." Now, that's surely an example of hyperbole. Can't you just see him demonstrating that as he spoke? Personifying his hands, making them look like individuals, and hiding one behind his back while the other one pretends to drop a coin unobtrusively in the collection plate without being seen? Can't you see his expression? I'll bet he had them rolling in the aisles...uh, in the grass.

I've always sort of pictured Jesus as a solemn, serious person. After all, he was dealing with extremely serious topics. But this morning I decided I was wrong. What if his speaking style was more like Redd Skelton?