Proof that Jesus was hilarious

People quite regularly ask me if I think Jesus had a sense of humor. “Does the Pope make it difficult to make fun of the Pope anymore?” I’ve been answering lately.

Stupid new Pope, with his stupid awesome goodness.

Anyway, of course Jesus was funny. In the Bible he’s being extremely funny all the time—and always in the same divinely dry way. Below is one of his very funniest moments. It’s from Luke 24. It takes place three days after Jesus’ brutal public crucifixion. That morning some women (“Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them”) find Jesus’ tomb empty—except for two angels, who tell them, “He is not here; he has risen!”

The women run to tell Jesus’ apostles what has happened. But the apostles don’t believe them. Later that day two of the apostles are walking together toward Emmaus, a village about seven miles outside of Jerusalem. The story continues:

They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them. But they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

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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. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Of course he laughed. He probably had morning wood too.

  • http://zzapp.com JonsBlog

    A friend just sent me this link to a beautiful depiction of “The Laughing Jesus”, and the story behind it: http://www.ecva.org/exhibition/acs/commun_2a.html

    • Sharla Hulsey

      I have a really simple line drawing of a laughing Jesus in my office. He’s got his head thrown back, and the crinkles around his eyes make it pretty clear it’s not the first time he’s laughed.

  • salsa_shark

    Take sex for example. There’s nothing funnier than the ridiculous faces you
    people make mid-coitus.”
    -Metatron, “Dogma”

    • Catherine J

      “Sex is a joke in heaven?”

      “From what I understand, it’s pretty much a joke down here too.”

      • salsa_shark

        ;) Snewgans!

  • Theresa Chedoen

    I’m really glad you wrote about this particular scripture. Since i was the only one who started laughing during the Gospel reading this morning. This story has always cracked me up. “No, really? Tell me what happened!”

    • Sharla Hulsey

      I’ve always thought it was like when my mom would ask me a question like that, when she totally already knew the answer. “What were you and *insert boyfriend-of-the-week here* doing that took you so long to go get a gallon of milk from the store?” Um…we got lost?

  • Patrick DeHoff

    Someone pointed out once that the children came to Jesus (who were then shooed away by His disciples). Children do not direct their course towards a stiff, serious, unfunny person.
    Plus, some of his statements about pharasees had all the sharp pointed barbs that would get him a late night “news” program on Comedy Central.

  • http://abnthree.blogspot.com Barb N

    I’ve always thought that Jesus was either laughing or at least being wryly amused in Luke 7 when John’s disciples come to see him (The Message paraphrase does it particularly well). In some translations of v. 23, he says “Blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over me.”

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      SO FUNNY!!! Great one, Barb N.

      • Sharla Hulsey

        I’ve also been told that the “eye of the needle” business was a bit of humor at the rich young ruler’s expense…

  • Jennifer V Gray

    Jesus was fully human… and all the comes with it. He was snarky even as a kid. “Where were you?” “Mawm! Duh! I was at Dad’s place.”

    48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mothersaid to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a]

    He gets them in a boat and takes a nap and then when they are freaked out… “Dudes! Chill! This is nothing.”

    24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

    • lymis

      Tangentially off topic, but anyone who isn’t scandalized by this kind of humor should definitely read Christopher Moore’s Lamb.

      I particularly love the part where he explains Jesus walking on the water after feeding the multitudes by having Jesus stop and look at all the astonished faces staring at him from the boat and say, “What? We just ate. Mom said I always had to wait half an hour before I went in the water!”

      • Kimberly Paine

        Yes. This book did more for me in humanizing Jesus than anything else. Favorite book ever.

      • thatgirl

        A friend of mine just gave me this book. I cannot wait to read it!

  • Sharla Hulsey

    What made clear to me Jesus’ humor was a dramatization of Matthew’s Gospel I saw years ago during Holy Week (on TBN of all places, not exactly where you turn for quality religious programming…). It wasn’t the six-inches-above-the-ground, King-James-English-speaking, docetic Jesus that shows up in most of the stuff on that channel (and a lot of other popular portrayals). He was a regular guy, average-looking, with regular, average-looking and -sounding disciples. We turned to the show as he was in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, just fixing to get into the “mote in your brother’s eye” stuff. He picked up this POLE, six or eight feet long, and held it to the side of his head as he talked about the mote in the other guy’s eye and the LOG in yours, eyes twinkling the whole time, and everyone listening there on the mount (and Mike and I in our living room) laughed and laughed. How did I never notice before that that was funny?

    You know who else is hilarious in the Gospels? The man born blind in John 9. THAT one could give Jon Stewart a run for his money in snark and sarcasm aimed at people in power. And then there are the Keystone Kops-like scenes early in Acts where the authorities keep locking Peter and John up and they keep getting out, leaving the authorities scratching their heads (not to mention poor Rhoda slamming the door in Peter’s face when he shows up at the house where everybody’s praying desperately for him not to be executed)… A lot of stuff in the Bible is funny, but we have been trained to see it as OH SO VERY SERIOUS that we miss the humor.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    I can imagine Jesus telling the story of the Good Samaritan and playing all the characters, to the hilt.

    The pompous priest, thinking, “im too busy for this Shit, Guy should have known not to travel without protection. Besides I have temple business to get to.”

    The rubber necking Levite, “oh wow, that looks bad, those robbers even stole his underwear, Poor bastard. Oh well, glad it wasn’t me”

    And then the Samaritan, hesitant, looking around to see if any robbers are still about, and then deciding danger or not, this poor victim neeed help. I can imagining Jesus demonstrating that the Samaritan is half the size of the victim and struggling to put him onto his donkey, and the surprised look on the innkeeper’s face when the Samaritan hands him enough money to care for the injured traveler with a promise for more.


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