What would Jesus drive? I’m glad you asked. Reflecting on the birth and life of Jesus Christ is exactly what Christmas was supposed to be about. But it’s perilous to make almost any assertion about J.C. No matter what your denomination, predilection, education, acceptance, rejection, or state of salvation, you can’t possibly say something upon which everyone will agree. Really, you can’t say anything at all about the matter without aggravating someone. All that conceded, here’s what Jesus would drive.
[Note: All citations and quotes here are from the New International Version of the Bible. That’s simply because the NIV seems mainstream enough. This is all tentative, conditional conjecture written by a not-always well-practiced, but believing, Catholic. The reader’s application of 2,000 years of Christian teaching, logic and competing theologies may vary. Non-Christians please observe quietly.]
Using the four Gospels of the New Testament as a guide, it’s apparent that Jesus’ favorite form of transportation was His feet. For virtually everyone who lived in the first century, the world moved at walking speed. That’s about three miles per hour. Jesus, who lived fully as a man, rarely never moved much faster than that.
Even that time His feet walked on water.
About the only transportation device that Jesus seems to have owned were His sandals. And even that ownership is an open theological question. In the third chapter of Matthew, however, John the Baptist uses the possessive to describe Christ’s shoes. In the 11th verse, John says “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.” In John 1:27, John the Baptist asserts that Christ “is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
On that sliver of evidence, let’s assume that Jesus owned his own sandals, and that He wasn’t completely against personal transportation devices. There is no evidence that He owned a second pair. And clearly He was the kind of guy who, if He saw someone who needed sandals, He’d untie his and hand them over.
Jesus also apparently wasn’t against roads. After all, the Romans were obsessive road builders and had about 500 years experience building them by the time of Jesus’s first birthday. And those roads extended into Judea and to Jerusalem. Yeah, Rome used the roads to move its military around its ruthlessly administered empire. But the roads also facilitated trade and movement between the various regions and cities. And Jesus advised, in Mark 12:17, to “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
While oxen-drawn carts, horses and the occasional chariot used Rome’s roads, there’s nothing in the Gospels that indicates Jesus rode in anything with wheels. If an online Bible search is to be believed, the word “wheel” doesn’t even appear in the New Testament, though it shows up at least 32 times in the Old Testament.
Jesus did, however, use boats several times. In Mark 3:9, he retreated to a waiting boat when crowds gathered around him. And in the eighth chapter of Matthew he wakes up when a storm arises around the boat carrying him and his disciples and “rebuked the winds and waves, and it was completely calm.” There’s nothing that indicates Jesus owned any boat—or that He was all that much of a boat guy—but it’s clear He wasn’t against using a vehicle if the occasion called for it.
The one time the Gospels report Jesus riding on or in anything on land is his entrance to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday—yes, the Palm Sunday. However, while he entered the city as a king, he didn’t ride some magnificent warhorse, but chose instead a small donkey colt.
In Matthew 21:1, Jesus sends two disciples to the village ahead of them to find a donkey and her foal, a colt, tied up there. He tells them to bring the donkeys to him. He rides the colt into Jerusalem. It’s a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy in Zachariah 9:9 that “Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
What would Jesus drive today? Well, Donkeys were useful animals, then and now, but they’re hardly the most majestic of beasts. And that donkey quality is what the Savior would want in a 21st century vehicle—something versatile and capable, but unobtrusive. Ordinary, without any airs. So think small SUV, van or pickup truck. And think inexpensive and somewhat unexciting. Reliability would be nice. Plus, it should be available in the Middle East.
The answer: The Toyota Hilux pickup—the mechanized equivalent of a donkey. And not the fancy Hilux, but the base model, powered by the simplest engine—the standard 139-horsepower, 2.0-liter four in the new Hilux. Vinyl seats, steel wheels (and without a .50-caliber machine gun mounted in the bed).
What Jesus would do with a Hilux is use it to spread His good news and serve the needs of the poor and lost around Him. You know, good things. And if He held the pink slip, He’d give that truck up the moment someone who needed it more could be found. And if He bought it, it was probably already well used.
There’s nothing in the Bible about traffic laws, internal combustion, tire rotation, insurance, or how environmentally conscious a vehicle should be to achieve some level of righteousness. Those are all 21st century problems we need to work out for ourselves. And all this is rank, hopefully entertaining, speculation.
But vehicle choice is important. Look at Pope Francis, who has bypassed the Vatican’s fleet of big Mercedes limos in favor of ordinary Fords, Kias and Fiats when he travels. Even the hardest core Protestants recognize that Francis is both trying to follow Jesus’ example of modesty and set an example for a church that often follows the natural human appetite for luxury and comfort. Priorities matter, and expensive cars shouldn’t be a priority.
What shines through all this is that Jesus likely wouldn’t care what He drove, you drove or anyone drove. Cars, trucks, boats, and donkeys are merely tools that can be used for good or evil. It’s not a matter of whether Jesus would drive a Hilux or a Ford Transit Connect or whatever. It’s the good He would do with it that matters.
Still, I’m pretty sure He’d be driving a Hilux.