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[Jesus said to the scribes of the Pharisees], “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

Jesus doesn’t really think the scribes are righteous; he thinks they’re sinners, like everyone else. The context of this quote makes it clear that he is being sarcastic, as he is elsewhere in the gospels (e.g., Mark 2:9, 7:9; Matt. 7:3, among others).

We tend to think of sarcasm as mean-spirited–certainly not a loving way to respond to people. We think that because in many instances it is mean-spirited. But in the right hands and at the right time, it communicates truth indirectly and, in some circumstances, more effectively. And part of the duty of love is to communicate truth in a way that others can hear it.

Under what circumstances is sarcasm simply mean-spirited? Under what circumstances might it be an effective way “to speak the truth in love”?

–Mark Galli
This is part of Mark Galli’s guided journal, “Discovering the Untamable God,” a 12-week journey through the Gospel of Mark. Twice a week, you’ll receive a new journaling prompt encouraging you encounter the wild, untamable Jesus of the Gospel of Mark and let his radical sayings and actions transform your life. Use these prompts in your own journal or in group discussion. If you’re joining this journal mid-way through, you can start journaling at any time, and stay subscribed at the end, when the journal will restart and you can receive the prompts that you missed.

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