I was surprised the other day when my son said to me, “Dad, I can’t imagine you as a funny guy.” The thing is, I know I used to be a funny guy. I still think I am. I wonder what went wrong!
And something else has gone wrong. It’s how our society traditionally thinks of Jesus. There’s a notion that he was this perpetually serious, solemn guy who struck fear into people and caused them to fall on their knees at his very presence. This is really far off the mark!
When I think of Jesus, I imagine someone who smiled easily, and who laughed freely, and who certainly wasn’t against making a joke in the right circumstances. He was a man who attracted little children and those who had been rejected and abused by society.
Jesus could painlessly peel back the layers of pretence and pride and leave people thinking for days about the reality of their lives.
When you read through Jesus’ teachings, you’ll find a great wit, a masterful command of the language, a profound gift for irony and word plays, and impeccable timing. And these are the hallmarks of someone with a great sense of humour. With just one incisive statement, and with a chuckle in his voice, he could painlessly peel back the layers of pretence and pride and leave people thinking for days about the reality of their lives.
Jesus had some great one liners in his repartee with the Pharisees. I can easily imagine the ripples of laughter that went through the crowd when he talked about people who found it hard to swallow a mosquito but had no problem swallowing a camel! And he talked about camels going through the eye of a needle. Jesus seemed to have a thing for camels. He also talked about people stumbling around with huge logs in their eyes, and about the blind leading the blind. And he came up with some great puns with the names of his disciples.
Now I know that when you read the Gospels in your Bibles you don’t get all this humour, because the translators of the Bible knew that they were translating “holy things”, so they tended to translate everything in a “holy” way. And different cultures look at humour differently too. That’s why it’s often good to read the teachings of Jesus in a more modern translation, and let the humour come through a bit more.
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The thousands of people who gathered on the hillsides to hear Jesus didn’t come to hear some grumpy sad-sack! No way! They loved the way he spoke. He made them smile, he made them cry and then laugh. Most of all, Jesus connected with them in every possible way, and he focused their thoughts on what was really most important of all.
So let’s get real about who Jesus really was. Which reminds me, I should smile more. How about you?
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez. About the Author: Dr Eli is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question.