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Monday, August 5, 2013

Jesus Wept...and Laughed?

I have a great sense of humor. I just never laugh. Or smile.

My wife says that I could respond to a joke, give a laundry list, or describe the end of the world in pretty much the same tone of voice, and facial expression.

Hmmm. I might be taking this 'laid-back attitude' thing a bit too far.

When you look at the Bible, you'll find that Jesus was never described as laughing. Or even smiling. He wept, He was angry, He was stern, He was compassionate...but never, it seemed, did He hear a joke He liked.

So I'm in good company, right?

Uh, no.

What we have in the Gospels are four sets of narrative, linked but distinctly separate, designed to make a point. They were written to describe what Jesus taught, and what was important to the community. Hearing about Him yukking it up didn't pass the edits.

But something has survived, a sly sense of very Jewish humor that occasionally peeks out from behind the official billboard.

When the apostles are out on the lake, in the storm, they see Jesus walking on the water...and looking as if He's going to pass them by!

Didn't He see them? Or was He off duty?

Or was He just...pulling their legs?

Jesus' audience found a lot more to laugh at in the absurd than we do - for example, the idea of someone building a house on sand, or lighting a lamp and putting it under a basket would have been hysterical.

Kind of like when I got Joseph of the Many-Colored Coat confused with Jesus' dad...my wife had a great time with that.

Or the camel going through the Eye of the Needle - yes, I know there was a gate in Jerusalem called the Eye of the Needle, but I think Jesus used it as a double entendre - to get his listeners to laugh at the incongruity of the image as it would first come to mind.

So Jesus wept...and He laughed...

And we should do likewise, to live in the full humanity He brought to us.

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