Tag Archives: Donald Carson

day 3K218: Irony

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

When in conversation the other day with a fellow believer who has a startup he is trying to fund, he described a time that He felt like God was trying to tell him something as being “ironic”.  It got me thinking.  Does God practice irony as He instructs and leads us?  I looked for the definition and examples of irony and found this, “In an ironic phrase, one thing is said, while another thing is meant. For example, if it were a cold, rainy gray day, you might say, “What a beautiful day!” Or, alternatively, if you were suffering from a bad bout of food poisoning, you might say, “Wow, I feel great today.”  But, as I also read, “Irony has the capacity to clarify an incident and express what is important about it”.  As I reflected on that, I can see how irony can be used to make the point and certainly for humor, but it can also be used for sarcasm.  Yes, we can use irony to make a point and get away with it, but it takes some mastering and I wonder if irony is useful or more often is used more as a crutch when we should have just been direct and to the point?  It’s worth thinking about as we consider how we communicate to others who want and need as clear, consistent and concise communication as they can get.

Jesus spoke in Parables (more to come on that in coming PwK posts), but I don’t read irony directly from Him, but in the Gospels irony is utilized (in the right way) to make the point that Jesus was who He said He was and that we as ordinary people struggled to accept Him (then and now) for what He has done for us and is doing today.  Research Professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School since 1979, Donald Carson, captured one of four ironies of the Cross that he writes about this way:  “The irony is this: while he hung on the cross in ignominy, odium, and shame, while he was unimaginably weak, he was powerfully bringing about the destruction of the temple and raising it again. It was precisely by this means that his power was being exercised. He was on the way to death and resurrection. All four of the Gospels, not just Matthew, drive toward the passion narrative and then to the resurrection. While they were mocking him for his weakness, he was doing what he said he would. The man who was utterly powerless was transcendentally powerful.”  That is powerful irony.

Reference: John 14:6 (New Living Translation)