on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

When Jesus Cussed

(If you prefer to listen, click on the arrow below.)

Believe it or not, I grew up in a home where I never heard my father or my mother cuss.  That’s pretty remarkable in and of itself.

But I believe Jesus cussed a few times to get his point across when he walked the earth, especially when he saw what the religious people were saying and doing to others.  There may not be any four letter words said, but believe you me, Jesus gave them what we would call a “coming to Jesus talk” here in the South.

For just a minute, put aside that mild mannered image of Jesus.  Hear what he said to the most educated religious persons in his day.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. 28So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23: 27-28)

If this isn’t enough for you, there’s plenty more where that came from in Matthew 23.

When Jesus looks you in the eye and tells you that you are in a heap of trouble, and compares you to a grave that looks nice on the outside, but you are dead bones on the inside, one better sit up and listen.  Dang hypocrite!

Our problem with this passage of Scripture is we always thought Jesus was talking to “them” in our society.  You know who they are.  In reality, Jesus is speaking to us, and all the rest who say religious words only.

And by the way, before we get too defensive when someone calls us a hypocrite in our faith, we better just drop the bravado and say, “You know what, you’re right.  I’ve got a lot of stuff I’m working on with God.  I don’t have it all together.  Thanks for the reminder.”

That should be enough to keep us busy for awhile.  We won’t have time to go after all those sinners out there, because now we know they is us.

Without grace, without forgiveness, we are all in trouble.  Every single one of us.  No exceptions.

But when we know how much we need it, we see the wisdom of asking for it, and sharing it with others.



  1. Charles Kinnaird

    Great advice, Malcolm, on how to respond to accusations of being a hypocrite. On the matter of “cussing” I, too, never heard either of my parents use any “four-letter words.” One thing is interesting, though about growing up in the South – at least in the area where I grew up. I heard plenty of foul language in school and once I began taking part-time jobs in high school. I knew some folks that could curdle milk three tables away with their profanity. But I never heard anyone use Jesus Christ as a swear word(well there was one time, but he was a Northern transplant – locals just wouldn’t dare). It was as though in the South, even the most proficient curse-er would draw the line there. Maybe it was just where I grew up, but I find that fascinating that in a sense the Son is more sacred that the Father. I like to look at things from a psychological and mythological sense as well as theological. I can’t help but be amazed by that. I know this is diverging a bit from your post, but your comments brought that to mind, and it’s something I haven’t really heard anyone address.

  2. Malcolm

    Charlie, thanks for taking the time to write a comment. I appreciate your psychological and mythological and theological viewpoint about who used what words to cuss when you were growing up. Come to think of it, many of my friends who I grew up with in the South didn’t use the God-combination swear words much either. Of course, they also knew I was the preacher’s kid and often held back when they were around me.

    Always good to hear your comments. Peace!

  3. Karen Long Matthews

    I enjoyed listening Malcolm.

  4. Malcolm

    Thanks Karen for you comment about the audio version of this blog as this is something new I am trying.

    I just know that sometimes when I can hear an inflection in someone’s voice, I connect with what they are saying more. It’s an experiment and it really helps to get feedback.

    Take care,

  5. Betty

    Thanks for your words, Malcolm. It brought to my mind Pogo’s words from the ’70s – We have met the enemy and he is us. While, I believe it was penned initially for earth day, I think it rings true for me and my relationship with God. How often it is that I can’t hear or see because of ME.

  6. Malcolm

    Hi Betty, yes, I remember that quote from Pogo, lots of wisdom in it, isn’t there?

    I am usually the reason I cannot hear or see another.

    Well said, hugs,

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