Today’s Scripture: Psalm 16:11
When I was in college, I was assigned a book to read called American Jesus, which discussed how Jesus has been portrayed through art and film. There was one artistic rendition in the book that has stuck with me: it’s a painting of Jesus with his head thrown back, mouth open, a face full of laughter (if you’d like to see it, google “Laughing Jesus by Willis Wheatley”). The painting was so striking to me, perhaps because until that time, it never occurred to me that Jesus would laugh, particularly not the deep belly laugh that this painting portrayed! I printed the painting and hung it in my dorm room.
As time passed and I looked at the painting day after day, it began to work on me. For me, that painting contained a truth I needed in my faith life and slowly, my perspective began to change. When I read the New Testament, I started to listen for Jesus’ wit. I was amazed to find how many of the stories made more sense if I imagined Jesus saying things with a twinkle in his eye! Surely Jesus was laughing when he changed water into wine at the wedding in Cana! And he must have had a smirk when he told the people to take the plank of their own eye before trying to remove the speck from their brothers’ eye, right? It’s hard to imagine that Jesus didn’t have raised eyebrows and dancing eyes when he told the Pharisees that they strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
The stories where Jesus is funny have made a world of difference in my faith because they brought him to life for me! A Jesus who could laugh seemed much more realistic, much more like me, and I began to feel a new sense of connection with the stories and with Jesus himself.
Which stories bring Jesus to life for you?
“A Supreme Being devoid of the healthy ability to see the humorous, to be amused… would be defective, if not demonic. Certainly, a human being lacking these sensibilities would be considered deficient.” – Jackson Lee Ice