Was Jesus Funny?

jesus laughingI don’t see how anyone can doubt that Jesus was sometimes extremely funny. He was, after all, fully human. People are funny. So I think it’s safe to say that at least every once in a while Jesus was a veritable crack-up. Especially given that his whole ministry involved communicating with people—which, of course, necessarily involved employing at least some humor.

It’s true there’s not a lot of major yuks in the New Testament. Not that I can see, anyway. I don’t speak or read ancient Greek or Hebrew, though, so maybe it’s there in the original. I sure don’t speak Biblical Aramaic; I found it astounding that Mel Gibson was able to locate so many actors who do for his movie “The Passion.” I don’t know how Mel did it, but I’m guessing there are a lot of great, very old community theaters in … Aramaia.

Anyway, I know (boy, do I know) that a lot of Christians just aren’t comfortable with the idea that Jesus was ever funny. I don’t know why a funny Jesus would make anyone uncomfortable, but there it is. People who don’t think Jesus was funny must assume that the proclivity for humor was a core human characteristic that, for some reason, the Lord simply chose not to adopt for himself.

Of course, the whole “plank in your eye” metaphor does seem pretty funny. So, again, one never knows.

I think the best thing to do, after we’ve died and come directly into his presence, is to wait and see whether or not Jesus cracks a joke first.

Frankly, I hope he does. Because if he doesn’t, chances are that before too very long I will crack a joke. And when I do, I really, really want Jesus to laugh at it.

Can you imagine cracking a joke to Jesus, and having him respond with, “What was that? Was that funny? Was that your idea of funny? Who told you that sort of thing was funny? Hold on a minute here; lemme check my clipboard. Are you sure you’re supposed to be on this ‘up’ elevator?”

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • Candace

    I saw a really great essay on this topic once. Or maybe it was someone I heard speak about it. Anyway, they had some good reasons for believing that Jesus had a keen sense of humor. And they also posited that some of those times when he took a breather and got away on his own, it was because he really needed to just have a good LAUGH.

    I know that some of the ways in which he has dealt with me have been incredibly humorous. Many times when, if he had been (corporeally) right next to me, I would have reacted with a great big guffaw, punched him on the shoulder, and said, "Stop, already, yer KILLIN' me!"

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Candace: What a great comment. All of your comments have been so refreshing–and, frankly, so well written. I'm delighted to have you here.

  • Candace

    Awww, shucks (blush)

    Thanks, John. I am delighted to BE here. Way delighted. Pig-in-you-know-WHAT delighted.

    This is the best, most interesting and enjoyable blog I've come across in, like … ever. Thanks for writing it.

  • http://tonyyork.wordpress.com Tony York

    John,

    You are probably wondering why this guy is posting on a blog from the ancient past (especially considering digital years). Well, I found you blog linked on a suddenly atheist site that I had visited because the author of that site had commented on mine. Mind-numbing, I know.

    Anyway, I was engrossed with your posts and decided to hit the oldest link and see how you started this thing up. The subject of this post caught my eye because I have wondered about it myself. The answer that I come up with, "I don't know"

    Looking at the bible doesn't give us much insight into this particular area. I think it was Isaiah that called Him the man of sorrows and Paul recorded in Hebrews 5 how Christ would pray with loud cries and tears. Then one of my favorite passages is John 11:35 – Jesus Wept (Iesous Dakruo).

    I would like to think that there were occasions that Christ shared humor with His disciples but I also think about how His compassion moved Him to tears in several passages in the New Testament.

    There is one other aspect that I think about as well. When Isaiah saw Christ on the throne as He is described in chapter 6 of his book, and when Ezekiel describes Him in chapter 1 of his book, and finally when John witnesses Christ in his vision on the Isle of Patmos, they are all moved to the same response. They are physically shaken by the experience.

    The song, "I can only imagine", brings to bear some great questions about what that initial meeting with Christ is going to be like.

    Great Topic.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Tony: NICE! Very deep. But I don't think there's any question at all that Christ had a magnificent and varied sense of humor. If, that is, you believe he was fully man. If not, then … who knows?

  • http://www.tracetalks.blogspot.com Tracey

    Yes, I'm commenting way too late on this, but it was linked to today's post…

    I believe that Jesus had to be funny, or at least was surrounded by some funny people. We NEED humor, don't we? Also, I find many things in the Bible to be humorous — like 'plank in your eye' as you mentioned, but many others as well.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I'm with you, Tracey. I can't believe how often I find the Bible extremely, blatantly funny. And it's almost always Jesus who, to my mind, is always being funniest. I can't even begin to imagine how people don't see it.

  • Jayne

    Gosh, I thought I was the only person who thought Jesus must had a sense of humor…He HAD to. He INVENTED humor for humans and when He became human it went along with the package.

    I have a drawing of Jesus laughing hanging up on my living room wall. It's a great topic for discussion because laughter is often the result of an unsuspected punchline. Since Jesus KNOWS everything, He would know the punchline. When you know the punchline ahead of the comediene's saying it, it just isn't as funny as when you heard it the first time.

    The other reason this article interested me so much is that recently I have sensed that God wants me to use the gift of humor He gave me to promote His Kingdom to family and friends who might not listen otherwise. The challenge among us 'funny Christians' is to keep it from appearing sacreligious.

  • http://www.knotonablog.blogspot.com Ricky H

    If the saying “better late than never” is true, then it doesn’t get much better than this tardy comment (although, after reading it, never may seem preferable to late).

    I’ve always thought God’s response to Job was very funny (and delightfully sarcastic, too).

    As for Jesus having a sense of humor: I agree that he’d kind of have to, if he was fully human. Also, the fact that he loved children (and they seemed drawn to him) would seem to imply a sense of humor, wouldn’t it? I mean, have you ever known children to be drawn to an adult who didn’t have a sense of humor? (You may have, but I never have.)

    Back in the ’70s (as a boy or young teen), I remember a picture of Jesus laughing being referred to as blasphemous. I never quite understood that way of thinking.

    For some strange reason, I’ve never felt that laughter and Divinity were incompatable. For as long as I can remember, I have had a feeling that the world is haunted. Not by something evil – but, rather, by something good (what I’ve since read the writer Charles Williams refer to as a “terrible good”). I always had the eerie suspicion that, just behind the thin veil of the world we see, there was laughter. Not a silly, distracted, don’t take life too seriously laughter – but a deep, intimate, knowing laughter. It had qualities that I didn’t have names for, but later learned are Holiness and Joy. I’ve only caught fleeting snatches of the laughter, but those briefest moments are breathtakingly arresting.

    Great blog, by the way. I’m slowly working my way through.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Ricky: Thanks! Good stuff.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    Duck-billed Platypus.

    Need I say more?

  • http://www.scg-wakeupcall.blogspot.com Susan

    I think Jesus was a crack-up at times, especially in Mark's gospel. Think of the story of the Rich Young Man, who wants to know how he can "inherit" eternal life… and after going over the basics, and the rich man says, "Yeah, done all that. What else?", *my* Jesus gets a smile on his face and says, "Ooohh… yeah: sell everything you own and give the money to the poor!" And then watches the man walk away grieving at *that* suggestion.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Brian: Hah! That's so funny! I was just writing/telling someone that often, when I'm asked if I think God has a sense of humor, I respond with: "Two words: Dung. Beetle."

  • http://yeuann.blogspot.com yeu@nn

    Always thought God liked puns a bit much… just check out Rick Warren's latest tweet!

    @RickWarren Preached Gen31-32 today, has a Hebrew pun:Jacob(YAYbok) wrestle(YAYbek) Jabbok(YAHbok) So Yaybok yaybecked God at Yahbok!!

  • kaelieanne

    I absolutely believe (know) that Jesus had and HAS a sense of humour! Why wouldn’t He? He came to earth as the Son of God but also as a REAL man with all the human attributes that each of us has.

    If you read the Word, you can see that He joked with his disciples and laughed and punned and had a blast with them! He wasn’t some religious person who couldn’t have fun – he was disgusted by the Pharisees who couldn’t be *real* and show who they really were, who cloaked themselves in superficiality and religious personas.

    And if you serve Him now, you will see that He has an amazing sense of humour! Watch for it. Ask Him questions and see how He responds through His Word or circumstances which are just so incredible that you have to laugh out loud. Stop being so religious that you can’t see His hand in all the funny and “co-incidental” things that happen to you daily!

    Jesus is REAL… yesterday, today and forever. Get to know Him and laugh with Him, cry with Him, learn from Him. He’s not some religious wimp gazing off into the sunset… He’s real and alive and amazing!

    • Linda Bloom

      Beautifully said. I second. :)

  • kaelieanne

    Oh yeah… one more thing. Ever seen a MOOOOOOOSE? If that doesn’t tell you that God has a sense of humour, I don’t know what will! LOL


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