Today: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Jesus the humorist    (6/28/2015 )

Just because you're God, and have come to save the world from darkness, death, destruction and despair, doesn't mean you can't sometimes have a laugh!

There is enough humour in the gospels to indicate that Jesus would have been quite an entertainer. Of course, he spoke with authoritybut it was his choice of stories and humorous images that were engaging, causing people to laugh and helping them to remember his teaching.

We need, among other things, to have an image of a laughing, joking, messing-about Jesus. Possibly even a teasing Jesus? Life is for living, and the creator of the world knew better than any of us how to enjoy the world about him, the people he shared life with, and his ownpersonality.

The gospel writers have not included any jokes Jesus may have made that were simply for a laugh. However, there is humour in Jesus' generosity; I have never quite fathomed why he needed to turn as much as 600 litres of water into wine at the end of a wedding feast, or to fill fishermen's nets to breaking point (with 153 fish) when he was already cooking fish on the shore!

All that we read in scripture has depth and meaning. It is, therefore, harder for us to recognise the humour, because we look so quickly to the challenge. But notice, for example: in those days, for a shepherd to leave 99 safe sheep on the hillside, to go in search of one lost sheep, would have been ludicrous and wouldn't even have been contemplated. But God's love for us, and his joy when we are found by him, is so great….

Have you considered the image of someone with a huge great plank of wood in their eye? Then add to your picture a speech bubble of them offering to remove the speck from someone else's eye! You aresupposed to laugh.

Jesus conjured up images of lighting a lamp and then putting it under a bowl; a woman nagging so much for justice that the judge gives her what she wants, to shut her up! Even in his strongest criticism of the Pharisees, Jesus brings in a touch of humour. He calls them blind guides, whitewashed tombs, people who clean the outside of a cup and leave the inside dirty – ridiculous images, with a serious message.

Jesus' humour is often exaggeration to make a point, and to give us a memorable image. If we were listening to him on earth today, I expect we would hear lots more of this in his teaching. We might also hear natural witticisms, even healthy sarcasm. Humour is not disrespectful or ungodly; rather, it can be fun, tasteful and constructive. It may be challenging, but shouldn't be cruel. Let's learn to laugh at ourselves first, then to laugh with others; furthermore, to use stories, humorous images and life's own natural funniness to share God's message of life in all its fullness.

Pray: Jesus, please help me to know the life you've given me with all the freedom you provide. Give me your joy and laughter. Give me such confidence as your child that I can laugh at myself and accept the challenges where I need to change. Thank you. Amen.

Think: What do you think Jesus meant when he said: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John [NT] chapter 10, verse 10)? To what extent have you discovered this fullness? Does it include enabling you to relax, to be free to be you, to laugh and to have fun?

Challenge: If Jesus was holding up his humorist mirror to your life, which aspects would he exaggerate and laugh at, because you take them too seriously, or give them too high a priority? Which important aspects of his truth and his love might you be missing on because of that?

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