Bad-Ass Jesus

This ‘Ain’t Yo’ Momma’s Jesus.

(If you are more offended than intrigued by the title, you should skip this post… and probably avoid this blog.  See my views on the ethics of profanity.) 

 For centuries now we’ve lived with an image of Jesus that is, well, a little bit on the weak side.  He is gentle, soft, and very white.  Were it not for the obvious beard, we might question whether or not he has any, er, well, you know…. 

 white wimpy Jesus

Now there is an alternative vision of Jesus.  We don’t see it depicted visually much, other than in left-wing cartoons.  Why?  Because this right-wing all-American Jesus would look so zany.

all-american Jesus

(see original context)

No one really believes in this machine-gun-wielding Savior… but some of us talk as if we did.  Too often I hear preachers and believers saying that the Kingdom of God = the United States of America + the State of Israel.

Then there’s easy-going “Buddy Jesus” from Dogma.

Buddy Jesus

And the even more chill Homeboy Jesus (who is even friends with Ashton Kutcher???)

Homeboy Jesus 

But what is the Bible’s image of Jesus?  His inner character, if not his physical appearance?  There are aspects of “weak Jesus” (picture 1, above) that are in the Bible: he is Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God.  He preaches love of God and love of each other.  There are aspects of the Buddy/Homeboy Jesus, too, which are true to the Bible: Friend of Sinners.  But Buddy looks more like Big Man on Campus than Lord and Savior.

Jesus is one complicated dude.  He is the Man of Sorrows, which we don’t often see, except in very old paintings.  He sweated blood and thought that he was going to die from the weight of sorrow that was on him.  Makes my depression look like Disneyland!

And he is the Lion of Judah.  He will come and conquer as a king.  That covers some of the aspects of him that we see in the Bible.  But I can only think of one word nuanced and strong enough to describes the missing piece in pop-culture’s picture of Jesus:

bad-ass (adj.): 1)touchy, difficult; 2) mean, belligerent; 3) tough, intimidating; 4) rugged, strong; 5) unequivocally awesome.

Jesus is not touchy or difficult.  He is never mean or belligerent (although G.I. Jesus, picture 2, above, might make us think otherwise).  But he can be tough and intimidating.  He had sharper come-backs than Madea and wasn’t afraid to over-turn tables in the name of God.  He was rugged and strong enough to work for thirty years in a carpenter’s shop, live with sailors (the truckers of the ancient Near East) for three years on the road as their leader, and then carry on a conversation or two while crucified.  He bore the sins of the world.  What could be more unequivocally awesome than that?  He brought love and mercy the fist time, but gave us a heads up: he will be back to enforce final justice.

Jesus was a rebel, a challenger of the status quo.  Either in his Whiteness, his Buddyness, or meekness, he has become the opposite in the eyes of many.  Churches have become part of the Establishment and, historically, have participated in much oppression.  But Jesus was the liberator of the oppressed, so much so that “Liberation theologians” have emphasized that aspect of Jesus to the point of painting him as a proto-Marxist.

Because our images of Jesus have been constructed by the cultural majority, we have seen a reaction against that, even independent of Rastafarianism.

Black Jesus

Whatever else you might say about Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” I hope we can agree that his Jesus (Jim Caviezel) finally looks Jewish.

Jesus with disciples

In some Greek icons I see a look that captures his baaaadness.  Very man, very God, very ready to do whatever it takes to save His own.

bass-ass Jesus

Across the centuries he calls, his vigor undiminished by the incompetence of his followers, myself included.  The Son of Man demands as much now as he did back then: either to be followed and worshipped, or else to be utterly rejected.  That I cannot so much as prove his existence highlights the intensity of this choice, the leap that is faith.  Ignoring him is not an option.  He leaves us no middle ground.  What could be more bad-ass than that?


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64 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve never really been one to quote scripture, but this is still one of my favorite passages, from Matthew 16:23 (from the NIV)

    Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

    That always seemed like a pretty “bad-ass statement” to me, because it’s so true. But these are words alone and if it is graphical image you are focusing on, I couldn’t say…

  2. I wasn’t ever in front of him.

  3. Peter: So true! Awesome that you like the passage so much, since it deals with your namesake. I was juxtaposing how far short of the Bible’s Jesus (based on his statements) our culture’s graphic images of Jesus fall. Your comment hit the mark.

    Satan: I was wondering when you’d stop by. I’ll have to take your word for it that you weren’t ever in front of Jesus. (I don’t even know what that means.) I think that Jesus was using a metaphor. Still, you’ve been around the block more than a few times… invented going around the block, even… so you would know. Father of Lies, you’re might be right… this time.

  4. Yes, I read through Matthew recently… those “woe” statements are pretty, um, bad-ass.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses like to come through our neighborhood periodically. This time they left a leaflet that portrayed, as I told my 9-year-old, “Jesus-as-hottie” (if you’re into white guys with pretty hair).

    Buddy Jesus looks like Frozone. (with feeling: “WHERE. IS. MY SUPER-SUIT!)

  5. If this were advertising (which evangelistic materials have a way of being), the implied message could be either:

    – follow Jesus and you’ll be really clean and have pretty hair, too.

    – if you’re not really clean and don’t have pretty hair….

  6. We all deserve to go to Hell (I was one of the worst sinners), but God has given us a way out – JESUS CHRIST. The suffering I went through (orphanages & abuse) was nothing compared to what Jesus went through (for you and me) – He actually sweated BLOOD in the GARDEN of GETHSEMANE before JUDAS betrayed HIM. He loves us so much – PRAISE THE LORD!!

  7. Thank you, Micky, for being so open about your own suffering, and for your understanding of Christ’s even greater suffering. This really is what worship is made of!

  8. I always thought Jesus overturning the tables at the Temple was badass. I googled “badass jesus” and found your blog.

  9. Why the hell you saying jesus is a ass. I should slap who ever made this website for that.

  10. Eliza, you’re a dumbass.

  11. Yusha, welcome. I’ll try to post more regularly again once the semester slows down.

    Eliza, thanks for the sarcasm?

  12. Found your site while looking for a decent scan of the Jesus in Hagia Sophia, my personal favorite. I live down the street from Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and have spent hours in front of that mosaic, drawing it. It’s impossible to completely capture the compassion, acceptance, infinite humanity of the expression. You are right, the very old depictions are the best.
    For a real faith intensifier, visit Ephesos if you haven’t already. There is the home of the Virgin Mary, up on the hill. Nearby in Selchuk is the ruined temple of Artemis, the Virgin Huntress and great goddess of Asia Minor. A short stance in front of her ten-foot statue reveals the original Virgin Mary, a far older and more powerful goddess than her present incarnation in Christianity. She just gets more and more powerful with the passing centuries.–TV

  13. Trici,
    You are very fortunate to live is such close proximity to such great art and deep, old history! I have not yet been to Ephesos. That would be a great way to wrap up some of my recent musings on Mary (nothing coherent enough yet to articulate publicly in writing). And thank you for the most coherent and informative response I’ve had in a very long time. Now in the thick of the semester, I may not be putting out new posts for a little while, but we’ll see. Thanks!

  14. Hello

    I’ve just uploaded two rare interviews with the Catholic activist Dorothy Day. One was made for the Christophers [1971]–i.e., Christopher Closeup– and the other for WCVB-TV Boston [1974].

    Day had begun her service to the poor in New York City during the Depression with Peter Maurin, and it continued until her death in 1980. Their dedication to administering to the homeless, elderly, and disenfranchised continues with Catholic Worker homes in many parts of the world.

    Please post or announce the availability of these videos for those who may be interested in hearing this remarkable lay minister.

    They may be located here:

    Thank you

    Dean Taylor

  15. I am going to pray for you and I suggest you ask God for forgivness.
    Do u know what Jesus did for us??
    He saved us I am 11 and i strongley believe and The Almighty Jesus Christ who died and rose to save our sins!
    If you want to live in heaven and have eternal life then i suggest you ask for forginvness and start to learn about what Jesus did to save us!!!!!

  16. Don’t make fun of him 😡

  17. may god bless you and forgive u…

    • And someday let you go to heaven. Let him show you the light of the lord, our savior.

  18. […] this picture from was highly entertaining.  I never would’ve thought to write a blog post about why Jesus is badass or Jesus vs. Chuck Norris but… I agree and LOL. Since I was thinking about it. Okay, […]

  19. What would Jesus do? You guys definitely need to hear that more often. If you think Jesus is a badass you’re definitely going to hell. You’ll be sorry then.

  20. I will pray for you and hope you will see the light of Jesus before you die. You should really think about it. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This includes not using bad language. What would Jesus do? You won’t even believe how life-changing it is to follow Jesus. He DIED for our sake so that we could be saved from exactly what you guys are doing. He had NAILS through his wrists and you guys are calling him bad-ass. It’s gonna take a whole lot of asking for forgiveness to fix that. Our redeemer lives and all you have to do is pray a prayer for forgiveness and ask to have jesus come to your heart and then, you will have eternal life in heaven. I’m only twelve, and btw, i totally agree with grace.u should pick up a bible once and a while and actually try to comprehend, not make fun of. Listen to the lessons. Come to Jesus Christ and you will be redeemed. You will wish you could’ve fixed this when it becomes too late and your time comes and you go to hell. Again, I will pray for you.


    • would anyone go to hell if God is all-loving and all-forgiving? If he even sent his own son to save us?

      • God has his own justice…

  21. How did u know ur father and ur mum how did u believe they r ur parents, ever u seen them at ur birth…

    u wont believe GOD but u believe devil. if anybody says hey dont go there , there is one devil then u wont go , becz

    this is ur fool

  22. 4854derrida: Word to Dorothy Day.

    Everyone else: Did you even read the article? (And be honest, how many of you were googleling “Bad ass Jesus”?)

  23. ilove my jesus

  24. jesus is very great i like that so much.

  25. i love this god

  26. i guess i knw wea yu gona go,its obvious yu were born from the abe family cause god dos not create human wu r so blinded,but you knw jesus will forgive yur ape ways of have just watch tis now and from tis day on i will be saving yur soul from going to hell,yea god will forgive you and jesus died on the cross for you,but yu were given a choice to be a gud person or bad person but obvious sum of yus chose to be abes and act like yur father satan then you belong in the zoo in hell wea theres moa abes like you..just rememba ill will be asking god to forgive me for tlking like tis but no1 diz my man jesus like tis..wen yu all move on frm tis life,yur gona ask him to save yur soul..i laugh because our lord is going to turn to you and say “did you love me?its then you realise how big yur mouth is wide all stupid,he died on the cross for you and me and yea we were given choices and that is to choose to love him and follow him or follow your ape dad satan but it luks obvious sum of you have chosen to follow abe man(wu yu luk do you really fink that my lord jesus is going to carry the cros again for you,(fink bout it)but meanwhile y yur on earth try and do the rite thing and love him and respect..but don’t judge the lord cause you have no right to judge him cause he is the only judge..and you all maybe blinded now but its going to bite yur ass wen least wus the ass eater now ha..but sisters and brothers i will pray for yur souls cause you need it..god bless you all and may satan thrust into hell with all his evil spirits that wonder around the world of ruining all yur souls..god bless


    The Master Jesus/Yeshua is the Perfect Man – a hero of our world.

    God Bless

  28. Go to
    There’s also a book out: Badass Jesus: The Serious Athlete and a Life of Noble Purpose

    • Is the book any good? I see it came out a couple of years after my initial post (2009 vs. 2007). The cover looks terrible. I hope it doesn’t suck. We need more Christian lit worthy of that title.

  29. They say, every thing is fair between love and war. They forgot to add religion in to that. People want to believe what they have been told and what they believe. If you say what people like you, you are a hero and when you say against, you are rebel or bad guy. Churches making money on people sentiment.
    We are sheep.
    Unfortunate, one of us jump and all would follow.
    We are sheep.

  30. Dont ever make fun of jesus he is our true living god.we live in his shadow. so people be a true christian and join hands for the blessing of our lord jesus christ

  31. I love my jesus.he is good all the time.

  32. jesus was not GOD, hhe was just a massanger

  33. jesus was not god,they was just a messanger of god

    • Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah. Angels, such as Angel Gabriel are messengers.

  34. when Jesus comes back, the first thing he does is kill an entire army of millions, creating an ocean of blood 5 feet deep and spanning 1600 stadia (that’s about the length of Israel).

  35. I love jesus

  36. Me too.

  37. hi jesus ana I love you w nchala 3ed into bel kheyr ya jesus and mariam and joseph(K)(K)(L)(L)

  38. stupid whats the hell is dis ……..jesus is great……….

  39. Hey I’m not even a Christian, but I like this blog man, I guess Jesus was pretty badass

    • Thanks, Josh. A lot of people have been too busy being offended, as many of the above comments reveal, but you “get it.”


  40. […] [/source] […]

  41. besmiam bewel hahadu amilak amin. kemey aklekum dehando alekum tsega tienakum ane egizabihir ymesgen tsbuk aleku .

    • ?

  42. Shall I tell you, I am sick of this new world the image of the Catholic faith is being bruised or beaten because of you. Christ put his life up for everyone, this is what everyone shows in return. Shame on you. I reject
    Satan and ALL his works. You should as well. This site is SATAN. The definiton of Catholic isnt bad. Here it goes.Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole.
    For many the term usually refers to Christians and churches belonging to the Roman Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See. For others it refers to the churches of the first millennium, including, besides the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, and the Assyrian Church of the East. And for others again it refers to “adhering to the catholic faith as it has been inherited from the earliest Christians … seeking to restore the faith and order of the primitive church”,as claimed by the Anglican Communion and the Reformation and post-Reformation churches.
    The Catholic claim of continuity is based on, among other factors, Apostolic succession, especially in conjunction with adherence to the Nicene Creed.
    In the sense of indicating historical continuity of faith and practice, the term “catholicism” is at times employed to mark a contrast to Protestantism, which tends to look solely to the Bible as interpreted on the principles of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation as its ultimate standard. It was thus used by the Oxford Movement.
    This contrast, however, is not so clearcut for Anglican theologians such as Alister McGrath: “Anglicanism is not a ‘middle way’ between Protestantism and Catholicism. For that reason … it is neither Protestant nor Catholic, but combines the strengths of both. Yet historians such as Diarmaid McCulloch [an Anglican] have claimed that the ‘middle way’ developed in England in the late 16th century was between Lutheranism and Calvinism—two quite distinct versions of Protestantism. The ‘middle way’ which resulted was neither Calvinist nor Lutheran—but it was certainly Protestant.”
    According to Richard McBrien, Catholicism is distinguished from other forms of Christianity in its particular understanding and commitment to tradition, the sacraments, the mediation between God, communion, and the See of Rome. According to Orthodox leaders like Bishop Kallistos Ware, the Orthodox Church has these things as well, though the primacy of the See of Rome is only honorific, showing non-jurisdictional respect for the Bishop of Rome as the “first among equals” and “Patriarch of the West.” Catholicism, according to McBrien’s paradigm, includes a monastic life, religious orders, a religious appreciation of the arts, a communal understanding of sin and redemption, and missionary activity.
    Hopefully this changes your perspective, you sinners.

    • Jesus > Catholic

  43. those r all really stupid there is only one jesus and it is not right to make dumb lil pictures that r cartoonish!!! and yes it is true that we don’t know if he has a beard or not but that is how we picture him… ( or some people do anyway)… i am a christian so i know that all these pics, except the 1st,and 3rd on,r dumb.and like one person said we r like gods sheep.and we need 2 follow him and do as he wants us to do.

    • Did you actually read the article or just look at the pictures?

  44. my website is not a real ling i just don’t want to tell!!!

  45. […] Bad-Ass Jesus […]

  46. I came across this article during a short story course in college. My professor was looking for a picture of a Byzantine portrayal of Jesus where His eyes seem to stare right into your soul. (Strange thing to look for, but it was related to a story we were reading.) While the photo was up on the screen a student commented on where the photo was from, so naturally, we had to check-out your page. We glanced over it briefly and my professor agreed with your sentiment; He is misrepresented. My professor is not even a Christian and yet even he knows that our Jesus isn’t just some wishy-washy pretty-boy or our homeboy. He is the bad-ass Savior of the world who judges when He needs to judge and is compassionate when He needs to be compassionate. You really cannot have all of that perfection without both halves of Him.
    Thank you for writing this and standing for who our King really is.

    • Forgive me for the misspelling of my own name. Haha.

    • Thank you for understanding and for sharing your positive reception of my work. I am shocked and amazed by how many people misunderstand what I’m trying to do here. I forgive the non-native-U.S.-English speakers who see “bad-ass” and read “ass-nasty,” or something along those lines; but the curses called down against me still kinda hurt. Thanks!

  47. Jesus IS indeed a badass!
    Here’s another rendition you may want to consider adding to your culmative works here about The J-man in his many forms.

    • Usually the event depicted in the video game is called “The Harrowing of Hell,” not the Harrowing of Christ. During medieval Passion plays, this was often the most action-packed moment of the whole production.

      I will certainly consider adding this if/when I do an overhaul/update of the post.

      Out of sheer curiosity, I hope that they make the game. I’m not convinced that it is a good idea; but even Master Chief has his Christ-like moments. We’ll see.

      • after a quick spot of googling, it seems there a numerous copyrighted works under the title of “the harrowing of hell”. maybe the authors of that game don’t want step on any legal toes?
        It’s hard to say. I love your mention of the “buddy christ” from dogma. hilarious flick.

  48. […] into their souls the zen of a Tibetan Monk, the warrior ethos of a medieval Japanese samurai, the badassedness of Jesus, some healthy stoicism, and the Tao of Steve (maybe not that last one).  All in the hopes […]

  49. Very interesting perspective(s). I think that maybe it comforts people to think Jesus is unlike them. This makes it ok to be unlike Him. Also, people freak out when they hear ass and Jesus in close proximity, unless a donkey is involved. Carry on.

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