As an avid user of Facebook it would seem especially important for me to answer this article’s title. However, I’ll admit that I never slowed down enough to ask myself its question; instead it only came to mind when a friend (in a Facebook message) mentioned that "since joining Facebook [she has] often wondered if Jesus would use Facebook."
Quickly…without opening your Bible…what’s your gut reaction? Yes or no?
However, what does it mean to to "use Facebook"? Are we talking about updating His status every once in a while? (For instance, "Jesus Christ is feeding 5,000 with five fish and two loaves"1—could you imagine the comments and likes that would get?!) Or are we asking if He would have a "page" that people could "like?" Perhaps the question is whether he would spend hours playing Facebook games like FarmVille?
No longer a simple query, eh?
However, my guess is that when you initially answered the question, "Would Jesus use Facebook?" that you did so based on normal status updates, keeping track of friends, wishing people happy birthday, etcetera.
Would Jesus do that? What was your gut response?
Mine was, "Of course!"
To answer that we have to discuss how Jesus acted toward others. One of the things that has bugged me so much about portrayals of Jesus in movies is that He often comes off disconnected from those around Him. Like some autistic children, He never makes eye contact with those He is speaking with; instead He often is represented as staring over or beyond people as He imparts transcendent words of wisdom. He’s not a man who gets "dirty" with those around Him, whether that "dirt" be the stuff we drag into our homes on the bottom of our shoes or the messy emotions that are dug up as we go through our lives in a fallen world. He may wear the same clothing as those surrounding Him, but He is other-worldly—unattached from everyone, whether they are fawning over Him or crying out for His crucifixion.
Is that your picture of Jesus? Now, I haven’t watched any recent films that include Him, so I don’t know if any (especially evangelical films) are different, but my dislike of the approach is why my favorite portrayal of Christ is in a movie that, from a biblical sense, is very inaccurate. Back in 1988 Demi Moore played Abby Quinn, a mom’s whose baby was going to be born without a soul because the Guf (Hall of Souls) is empty. Not only bad news for Abby, but it is for everyone because when her child sees the light of day the world ends violently. Jesus is played by Jürgen Prochnow (whose in-movie "disguise" is as a drifter who rents an apartment from Abby and her lawyer husband)…and although he (especially with short hair) neither fits the normal western picture of our Lord nor the likely semitic characteristics of the actual Messiah…he actually shows emotion! When Abby tries to kill him with a knife because she thinks he has come to harm her baby, He shows true anguish at both her act and His aversion to returning this time in judgment. I’ll spoil the movie if I give more examples, but whether its Jesus eating with the Quinns or reacting to the climax of the story…this is no emotionless God who just happens to be temporarily housed in a human body.
What does this have to do with the question as to whether Jesus would use Facebook?
Well, if He really was disconnected from His humanity (and us) while here on earth 2,000 years ago it’s unlikely He would "waste" time on Facebook today…or perhaps He’d just have a page people could like where He would post wise pithy statements that are also automatically tweeted on Twitter. Either way, it is unlikely He’d watch the top right to see whose birthday it is and then take the time to write a note on their wall. Or, that He would ask, "What’s up?" if someone posted a sad (often cryptic) status update. Or that He would make an effort to celebrate the good news another friend excitedly shared with everyone.
But, our Jesus went to weddings (John 2:1-12), wept (John 11:35, Luke 19:41), got indignant (Mark 10:14), ate and drank with sinners (Luke 5:30)2, expressed anger verbally and physically (Matthew 23:13-36, John 2:15)3, cared about children (Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 18:1-6, 10), touched the untouchables (Matthew 8:2-3)4…
And I could go on (for instance, in a recent sermon I listed 9 additional times that Jesus touched someone to heal them even though He could have done so from a distance5)…but we all know that the most significant "emotion" that Jesus showed was…
Love. Every word and every action of His captured in the four Gospels communicates love…so the references would be too many to list here. However, can any disagree with Christ’s statement that "greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, English Standard Version) or John’s reiteration that "by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers" (1 John 3:16)? God (and Jesus is God) "shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Now, none of this "proves" that Jesus would use Facebook (and I am pretty confident He would not spend a whole bunch of time playing games or promoting Himself on a Facebook page), but the same man who spent His time getting dirty (physically and emotionally) with the first century people by spending time eating, laughing, breathing, drinking, and crying with them…and touching them…would likely do the equivalent in today’s virtual worlds.
Yes, Jesus would use Facebook…6
1 As an aside, Jesus’ last name wasn’t "Christ"; "Christ" is a title, not a surname. Scripture does not provide a family name for Him (and they did not use last names the way we do now). However, if you follow the example shown in Matthew 16:17 ("Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah") Jesus may have been referred to as "Jesus Bar-Joseph" (Jesus, son of Joseph).
2 See also Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34.
3 See also Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15—17; Luke 19:45-46.
4 See also Mark 1:40-42 and Luke 5:12-13.
5 Matthew 8:5-14 and John 4:46-53.
6 The Facebook image used in this post was generously provided by Janko at Warp Speed.