Did Jesus laugh?
Of course, Jesus laughed. Let me tell you why I can answer that question so unequivocally. Jesus was fully human. Expounding on the nature of Christ, Christian theologians often speak of the “hypostatic union,” a term that refers to Christ’s human nature being inseparably united forever with His divine nature. Christ’s two natures are distinct, yet Christ is “fully God and fully man.” It’s that “fully man” part which assures me that Jesus laughed.
In fact, the Bible is full of humor. While I have a huge plank stuck in my head, I’m still proud (and dumb) enough to think that I can help you remove the tiny speck from your eyeball. If we don’t laugh at that, we didn’t really get it. Even Solomon affirmed: “There is a time to laugh.” If we’re not careful, we can fall into the mistaken notion that people who are serious about the gospel have to be deadly serious about everything, but nothing could be further from the truth. We were made to laugh. We need to laugh. We ought to laugh. Laughter is good for our souls, and healing for our bodies.
To laugh in 2021 is not to deny some very tough realities which are all around us. Despair is everywhere, friends. Substance abuse is on the rise, as are suicidal thoughts and behaviors. These indicators have soared over the last decade, especially among those under 18 (skyrocketing 287% between 2009 and 2018). Between 2015 and 2017, life expectancy fell in the U.S., and that was the longest sustained decline since 1918. And I haven’t even mentioned the gasoline that’s been poured on this fire by the pandemic.
Only a person who is full of faith in Christ can laugh in the face of future unknowns. I’ve heard it said like this: “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow.” That’s some good stuff.
In order for that kind of faith to flourish in and through us, you and I must be driven by a higher perspective of the world, and of our lives. This is central to our spiritual flourishing. Martin Luther penned these words on Christmas morning in 1522: “If you possess faith, your heart cannot do otherwise than laugh for joy in God, and grow free, confident, and courageous. For how can the heart remain sorrowful and dejected when it entertains no doubt of God’s kindness to it, and of His attitude as a good friend with whom it may unreservedly and freely enjoy all things?”
Paul in Ephesians 2:4-5 perhaps captures best our desperate need for a higher perspective, and the whole truth hangs on two short words: “But God.” In the verses preceding, the apostle has already described the downside of the universal human condition: “dead in trespasses and sins” … “following the course of this world” … “sons of disobedience” … “living in the passions of our flesh” … “by nature, children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Not a pretty picture, to say the least. “But God.”
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved!
I’m so grateful for those two words: “But God.”
But God refused to let me remain in lies and darkness.
But God refused to let me destroy myself in my pride and rebellion.
But God refused to let me stay on the wide and wrong road.
But God refused to let me be defined by my past mistakes.
But God refused to let me wallow in self-pity.
But God refused to let me get what I deserve.
But God refused to let me go!
But God. I’m inviting you to join me in the passionate pursuit of this higher perspective. God’s higher perspective. We need it now, and it is ours for the asking and seeking.
And I want to add that I believe that you and I will laugh in the world to come. C.S. Lewis wrote that “joy is the serious business of heaven.” It’s difficult to read about the wedding feast in Revelation 19, where God and His people are likened to a bride and groom who are caught up in the merriment of eternal victory, without imagining a great deal of laughter around the table. It’s a Biblical snapshot of nothing less than an absolutely joyful celebration! We ought to smile just thinking about it.
I don’t know all your struggles, and you don’t know all of mine, but I can tell you that you and I need a good belly laugh today. GOD’S GOT THIS. Let it out! Let it happen! Let it flow!