David Bruce: Jesus

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When Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was in South Africa during the time of apartheid, he did all the things he normally did, including giving hugs to the people he met. Walking into his hotel, which was teeming with black servants (labor was cheap), he kissed and hugged the black doorman (who was astonished that a white man would do this), then he kissed and hugged the black bellboy (who was astonished that a white man would do this), then he kissed and hugged the black elevator man (who was astonished that a white man would do this). The blacks at the hotel asked each other who this white man could be, and they finally reached the logical conclusion that it could only be “Master Jesus.” Rabbi Shlomo returned many times to South Africa, where he would play to blacks for free, as well as entertain Jews, and black children would see him walking on the street, and shout, “Momma, come quick! Master Jesus just walked by!”

The evaluation committee of Rev. J. Christy Ramsey, the pastor of the Ottawa (Ohio) Presbyterian Church, once gave him the humbling task of comparing his own ministry to that of Jesus. Rev. Ramsey came up with many observations, including these: Jesus walks on water; Rev. Ramsey slips on ice. Jesus changes water into wine; Rev. Ramsey changes water into coffee. Jesus curses fig tree; Rev. Ramsey kills houseplants. Jesus raises the dead; Rev. Ramsey wakes teenagers. Jesus casts out demons; Rev. Ramsey turns on night-light. And finally: Jesus cleanses lepers; Rev. Ramsey has changed dirty diapers.

Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878-1957) was a throat specialist in Dublin, Ireland. During his day, Catholics were not allowed to attend Trinity College, which he thought was ridiculous. To make fun of that ban, he told a story of a good man who had attended Trinity College and who died and stood before the Pearly Gates of Heaven. St. Peter was mostly impressed with the man’s record, but was troubled that the man had attended Trinity. Seeing Jesus walking nearby, St. Peter asked whether the man should be admitted to Heaven even though he had attended Trinity. Jesus replied, “I’m a Trinity man myself.”

A Jew met a cantor and asked, “What shall I do? My son has decided to convert to Christianity.” The cantor replied, “Funny you should ask — my son has also decided to convert.” Together they sought their rabbi and asked, “What shall we do? Our sons have decided to convert to Christianity.” The rabbi replied, “Funny you should ask — my son has also decided to convert.” Together they decided to pray to God: “What shall we do? Our sons have decided to convert to Christianity.” Out of Heaven a mighty voice replied, “Funny you should ask ….”

The first duet ever performed by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn was a North African dance which received great applause after each performance — until they danced it in Topeka, Kansas. At the end of the dance, the audience was completely silent for a long time — until a member of the audience said with feeling: “Jesus!” Afterwards, Mr. Shawn told the story of the dance’s Topeka reception to Ethel Barrymore, who commented that the audience’s reaction to the dance was “a very great tribute.”

President Abraham Lincoln once described the qualifications he was looking for in a man to fill the position of Indian Commissioner: “I want a pure-minded, moral, Christian man — frugal and self-sacrificing.” Senator Daniel Voorhees responded, “I think that you won’t find him.” When Lincoln asked why not, Voorhees said, “Because, Mr. President, he was crucified about 1800 years ago.”

John Roberts, a Quaker in New Jersey, was going by the market place, when he stooped to tie his shoe. As he did so, a man hit him in the back and said, “Take that for Jesus’ sake!” Mr. Roberts didn’t look back at the man, but merely straightened up, said “So I do,” and continued on his way. A couple of days later, the man who had hit him begged to be forgiven.

Mary Farwell’s five-year-old son was playing with his Speak-and-Spell computer. He typed the word “G-O-D” into it, but was surprised when the computer told him, “Word not found.” He tried it again, only to meet with the same unsatisfactory result. He then looked at his computer and said, “Jesus is not going to like this!”

Radio announcer Foster Brooks once decided to get a cup of coffee, so he put on a religious record, then took his break. When he returned, he discovered that the record needle had gotten stuck and the radio audience had been hearing, over and over, “Jesus Christ … Jesus Christ … Jesus Christ.”

Robert E. Kennedy is a Christian who has studied Zen Buddhism to find out what truth he can glean from it. His Zen teacher, Yamada Roshi, told him on several occasions that he didn’t want to make him a Buddhist, but instead wanted him to imitate “Christ your Lord.”

In a Catholic church, a young priest told an elder, “Jesus has returned! He’s praying now at the altar.” Together, they went into the church and sure enough, they saw Jesus praying at the altar. The young priest whispered to the elder, “What do we do now?” The elder whispered back, “Look busy.”

Tim Burke was both a New York Mets pitcher and a Born-Again Christian. In 1991, he was asked about Jesus and his career. He replied, “If Jesus were on the field, he’d be pitching inside and breaking up double plays.”

Angelo Pietri portrayed Christ in Léonide Massine’s Laudes Evangelii. As a result of his performance, many members of the audience came to him afterward to seek spiritual advice.

This joke appears in Holy Hilarity, edited by Cal and Rose Samra: “Question: Why was Jesus born in a stable? Answer: Mary and Joseph were enrolled in an HMO.”

Charlie Chaplin once wanted to play the role of Jesus in a movie. He stood up in a production meeting and said, “I’m perfect for the role of Jesus Christ — I’m Jewish.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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