Jesus’ funniest joke


I’ve been told by at least five major Christian leaders that it’s actually blasphemous to suggest that God has a sense of humor.

They’re ridiculously wrong, of course. The Bible shows Jesus being extremely funny all the time—and always in the same divinely dry way.

Below is one of Jesus’ funniest jokes. It’s from Luke 24. It takes place three days after Jesus’ extremely public, horribly brutal, and history-changing crucifixion. That morning a handful of women had found Jesus’ tomb empty—except for two angels.

“He is not here,” the angels had told the women. “He has risen!” The women ran to tell Jesus’ apostles. But the apostles didn’t believe them.

Later that day, two of the apostles are walking together. 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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  • Bill Steffenhagen

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

  • A friend just sent me this link to a beautiful depiction of “The Laughing Jesus”, and the story behind it:

  • 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.”

  • 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!”

  • 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.

  • salsa_shark

    😉 Snewgans!

  • 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.”

  • SO FUNNY!!! Great one, Barb N.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • buzzdixon

    Anyone who talks about planks in people’s eyes or camels squeezing through the eye of a needle clearly has a taste for the absurd.

    Peter trying to walk on water is pure slapstick. I can just imagine Jesus rolling his eyes, rolling up his sleeve, and reaching down under the waves to grab him.

  • SaxPoet

    What about Elijah (“troublemaker of Israel”) taunting the priests of Ba’al in 1 Kings 18:27? “Maybe your god is on the toilet, or taking a nap?”

  • SaxPoet

    And what about when Jesus ignored the people who wanted to stone the woman taken in adultery? He squatted down and started doodling in the dirt with his finger. Maybe he wrote: “Where’s the dude?” And maybe he wrote the names of the members of the Sanhedrin, and next to each name, the name of his girlfriend. 🙂 Then he finally straightens up and asks, “Which of you are innocent of this sin? You throw the first stone.” The author relates that at that point, the stoners dropped their rocks and split!