(surely) Jesus laughed.


Jesus Wept.

We know that, not just because of John 11:35, but also from stories of Jesus weeping in the Garden, and weeping over Jerusalem.

That makes sense.  The Gospel stories are intense, and what Jesus goes through is very emotional.

But what about Jesus laughing?

There isn’t a single reference to Jesus laughing.  No laughing? I find it hard to believe that our Savior was on a life-long personal downer.

I’m invested in this topic because I use humor everyday, even in sermons. One of my favorite movies is Airplane!, for Heaven’s sake.

I couldn’t make it through a day without laughter.

I figure the Gospel writers were busy with other objectives than pointing out every divine chuckle, and so, I’ve been digging…

Here are six passages where I could picture Jesus having a good ole’ laugh.  Take a read through them, and you’ll notice where I’ve inserted [JESUS LAUGHED] into the text.

I may or may not be right, but see if you can picture a little holy laughter for yourself:

1. Peter Walks On Water

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” [JESUS LAUGHED], “why did you doubt?”      Matthew 14:29-31

2. Zacchaeus Climbs a Tree

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-figtree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, [JESUS LAUGHED], looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  Luke 19:1-10

3. A Gentile Woman

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then [JESUS LAUGHED], “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.  Matthew 15:26-28

4.  The Children

16 But [JESUS LAUGHED] and called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Luke 18:16-17

5.  The Boy

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 [JESUS LAUGHED] and said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).

6. The Plank

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, [JESUS LAUGHED], first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:3-5

What do you think?  Can you picture Jesus laughing in any of these stories?

If so, it would appear that Jesus has a special fondness for people who stretch and grow in their faith.

Hey, maybe I’m on to something, or maybe we’ll just never know.

Jesus’ sense of humor could have ranged from non-existent to really absurd.

For me, I’m gonna hold on to these examples that..

surely, Jesus laughed.

(But don’t call Jesus Shirley.)

Have a great week,

The Winter Stream

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I took this picture on my recent flight from Kansas to North Carolina.

Look at all those tiny boxes.  Each of them a mile-wide pasture.

From the air, you can clearly see the structure and order that humanity superimposes onto creation.  And it’s beautiful in of itself.

But what is truly breathtaking to me is the river.

* * *

When I was 10, we lived in the country, outside a little town called Saline, Michigan.

Winters there were pretty heavy duty.  We’d pull on our snowmobile suits, build snow forts, go cross-country skiing.

Snow was everywhere.  White like the surface of the moon.

One year, out in front of the yard, in the large ditch by the dirt road, the snow began to melt.  There were still big piles of the stuff everywhere else, but as the sun passed overhead on that late winter day, a single stream of water began to form.

How can I describe the magic of this next part?

There in the ditch, the tiny stream pushed back the snow, and wound its way back and forth around tiny trees. stones, and discarded brush.  My friend and I watched it work, and nudged the dirt here and there to help it expand and stretch.

There in that desolate-white landscape, we were staring down at something that was Alive.

It was revelatory for us.  Almost incarnational.

We were caretakers of that stream up until darkness came, and we were called in for dinner.

* * *

Back in the airplane.

Take another look out of my window seat, above.

See that S-like line weaving its way across the middle of the picture?

When I saw it, some 10,000 feet overhead, I instantly remembered looking down at that winter stream, some 35 years ago.

I love how it winds its way across the landscape, charting its own course, crossing all boundaries.

It is clearly Alive.

Streams of living waters, Jesus said. Yes.  A living Spirit of God that nurtures and refreshes.

I wonder.  Is this how God views God’s self at work?  Staring down from on high?

Is this the perspective of Creation?

Lord knows I’m still just an ant,

but I have seen the winding snake, and the living water.

I have drunk deeply from the winter stream,

and I have believed.

* * *

Have a great week,