Do You Know If Jesus Actually Said These Things?

By: Torrance Grey

Who was it who said this? "Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight."

This is from the gospels, but it's John the Baptist. He is quoting Isaiah and describing his own role in Jesus' nascent preaching career.

Are these Christ's words? "Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food."

These are the words of the ancient physician Hippocrates. They're still good advice today.

Did Christ say this? "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be a fisher of men."

This quote is very well-known. Jesus is speaking to Simon Peter, one of his first disciples, the fisherman who would become a great apostle.

Was it Christ who said, "Can a blind person lead a blind person, or will not both fall into the pit?"

This is where we get the popular expression "the blind leading the blind." Jesus was warning his followers not to set themselves up as spiritual leaders before they themselves were learned and were set right with God.

Was it Christ who said this? "Whoever is not against you, is for you."

Hey, Jesus invented Boolean logic! Here, he was speaking to his disciple John, who told Jesus that he'd tried to stop a man casting out demons in Jesus' name, "because he does not follow with us." That's when Jesus said "Whoever is not against you is for you," a phrase that's with us to this day.

Did Jesus say these words? "Good cannot exist without evil, but evil cannot exist without good."

This was said by Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint who was both priest and philosopher during his life. The quote would suggest that he did not believe that evil served a purpose in the universe -- but it's impossible to go into the whole range of this deep thinker's beliefs here.

Did Jesus say, "Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?"

This line was used in the wildly popular musical, Godspell, which made it rhyme. "If the salt has lost its savor/It ain't got much in its favor."

Are these Jesus' words? "The deepest despair is to choose to be another than oneself."

These are the words of Soren Kierkegaard, a philosopher so morose some people called him, like Hamlet, "the melancholy Dane." Fun fact: Kierkegaard used to take his morning coffee thus -- he'd fill a coffee cup with sugar to *above the rim* and then pour coffee in to make a kind of thick coffee slurry. How anyone can feel low after drinking coffee like that is beyond us!

Did Christ say, "I am a stranger and an alien residing among you; give me property among you for a burying place"?

The speaker here is Abraham. It's easy to imagine Jesus saying, 'I am a stranger and an alien residing among you,' but he never asked for land for a burying place. Instead, he was buried in a borrowed tomb, the one belonging to Joseph of Arimathea.

Did Christ say this? "We walk by faith, not by sight."

This, again, is Paul, the apostle called on the road to Damascus. It has special meaning when you remember that Paul was briefly blinded by his encounter with God.

Did Jesus say, "You would not make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, would you?"

Jesus himself is the "bridegroom" in this metaphor. He is explaining why his disciples do not fast, but instead eat and drink.

Was it Jesus who said, "My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves"?

This is Jesus quoting the prophet Isaiah (see Isaiah 56:7). It is Jesus, however, who adds the "den of thieves" part.

Did Jesus say this? "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times."

Jesus says this to Peter, who was so zealous to defend him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter does, in fact, deny knowing Christ three times before dawn on the morning of Jesus's trial.

Was it Christ who said this? "Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers."

This is Noah speaking, after his youngest son went into his tent and he saw him lying naked while passed out drunk. The youngest son is called "Ham" elsewhere, but "Canaan" here, which is also the name of Ham's son. Did Noah intend the curse to start with Canaan, or was it really Canaan who showed this disrespect? Bible scholars have several theories about the meaning here.

Was it Christ who said, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise"?

These were Jesus' words to the "good thief," the man who was crucified alongside him, and who believed in Jesus's divinity. The other thief mocked Jesus instead, asking him if he were the Messiah, why didn't he save himself.

Who said this? "These three endure, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love."

This one is from the apostle Paul, or Saint Paul, depending on your denomination. There are probably more than a few people who attribute this verse to Jesus, but it's from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians).

Who said, "Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt"?

In John chapter 12, Jesus quotes the prophet Zechariah (Zech 9:9). He is talking about his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which Jesus made on a donkey colt, fulfilling the prophecy.

Did Jesus say this? "The wicked go astray from the womb; they err from their birth."

This is a quote from Psalm 58, written by King David. The couplet form is a tipoff; many of the Psalms and Proverbs have this parallel structure.

Who said this? "Poor wounded name! My bosom as a bed shall lodge thee."

This is from William Shakespeare's "Two Gentlemen of Verona." If you thought right away it sounded too dramatic for Jesus, consider the similarity to Christ's lament for Jerusalem: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! ... How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings." (Matt. 23:37)

Was it Jesus who said this? "Did God say, 'You shall not eat from any tree in the garden'? ... God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened."

This is, in fact, Satan disguised as the serpent, tempting Eve. He tells her that she will know the difference between good and evil if she eats from the tree in the center of the garden ... and we all know what happens next.

Whose words are these? "Therefore send not to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

This famous phrase comes from John Donne's "Meditations." It gave Ernest Hemingway the title of one of his more famous books, "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

Was it Christ who said, "My name is Legion"?

This is the answer a demon-possessed man gave to Jesus, who has just asked his name -- or, in a sense, the name of the demon who possesses him. "My name is Legion" indicates that many demons are infesting the man. Jesus then drives them into a herd of pigs, who run off a cliff and drown.

Did the Son of Man say, "Is there any among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead?"

We're assuming the child has asked for something to eat, in which case a snake would be a poor substitute for a fish. But we can't help but think, if the child wanted an exotic pet, a snake would be a great choice!

Was it Christ who said, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life"?

You might have recognized this as being part of the 23rd Psalm. It was written by King David, and is the most famous of his Psalms.

Was it the Son of Man who said, "Divide the living boy in two; then give half to one, and half to the other"?

This is King Solomon's line, from the story of the two women who claimed the same baby as their son. Solomon ordered the son cut in two, and the real mother quickly told Solomon to give the baby to the other woman instead. 1 Kings 3 says, "All Israel ... stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him."

Was it Jesus who said this? "I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there."

This is God speaking to Jacob in Genesis. Since most Christian denominations say that Jesus and God are one, a "yes" answer would be acceptable here. But the historical, human Jesus had not been born yet. We'll leave it to you to wrestle with the ramifications ...

Is this quote from the Son of God, or a son of God? "Consider the lilies of the field, how they neither toil nor spin, yet not even Solomon in his glory was clothed like one of these."

When a man asks Jesus to tell his brother to share an inheritance with him, Jesus declines, saying he is not a judge or arbitrator. He then preaches a memorable sermon on the folly of pursuing earthly wealth and goods.

Who said this one? "If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other also."

In older translations, Jesus says, "Turn the other cheek." It's where we get the popular metaphor for nonviolence and forgiveness.

Was it Jesus who said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone."

This verse is problematic for literal Bible believers, as Jesus clearly seems to be identifying himself as separate from God, and even as a flawed human. We'll leave to it to the theologians to wrestle with what it really means, though.

Was it Jesus who said, "Touch me and see, for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have"?

These words come from the last chapter of Luke. Jesus has returned to the disciples and is proving to them that he is real. He further eats a fish in their presence, which goes to show that he has an earthly body, which needs food -- he's not some kind of ghost.

Who sang, "Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider He has thrown into the sea"?

This couplet of praise is attributed to Miriam, Moses's sister, though Exodus tells us "Moses and the Israelites" sang it as well. They are celebrating the Red Sea drowning the pursuing Egyptians as the Israelites escape slavery.

Did Jesus say this? "Yet from those flames, no light, but darkness visible."

This is one of the more famous quotes from John Milton's "Paradise Lost." "Darkness visible" is one of those beautiful paradoxes that Milton does so well.

Did Jesus say, "That which we call a rose, would by any other name smell as sweet"?

While Jesus liked to speak in parables, and the parables often involved plants, this isn't one of them. This is Juliet on her balcony in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."

Did Jesus say, "These truths we hold to be self-evident: That all men are created equal ..."

This is from the Declaration of Independence. Believe it or not, there are people who confuse quotes from the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution with the Bible.

Are these Jesus' words? "Lord, give me chastity, but not yet."

This comic quote -- at least, we trust he knew it was funny -- is from St. Augustine. Jesus himself was celibate, unless you subscribe to "Da Vinci Code" theories about Mary Magdalene being his secret wife.

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About This Quiz

Jesus of Nazareth was eminently quotable -- he gave us many phrases that have found their way into everyday speech, like "straining at gnats and swallowing camels" for someone who picks at tiny details while letting big issues slide. However, a number of highly quotable people both followed and preceded Jesus in the Bible -- these include King David and Saint Paul -- not to mention the many eloquent people whose writings and sayings fall outside the Bible. 

What we're getting at is this: Even if you're a regular churchgoer or Bible reader, you can be forgiven for getting a little confused about who said what. That's why we've created this quiz. It mixes quotes from Jesus (mostly from the gospel of Luke, our favorite synoptic gospel) with verses from the Old Testament and elsewhere in the New Testament. And then, for good measure, we've thrown in a few great sayings from people outside the Bible, including famous philosophers and an Elizabethan playwright whose name you just might recognize! 

Good luck! If do you well on this quiz, congratulations! And if you don't, take heart -- there are Bibles with the words of Jesus printed in red, just for readers like you!

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