Did Jesus Laugh?

A pastor's response.

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The problem is that many people look at Jesus through stained glass and find it difficult to think that he did the normal, everyday things that all people do. If Jesus is God as well as man, they ask, would


laugh? Perhaps the God some believe in is always stern and serious, but not the God of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Psalm 2:4 states clearly that God enthroned in heaven laughs.

Some have the idea that a sincerely religious person would always be serious. In one school, the seminary students were told, "To be a bishop you need gray hair to give you that distinguished look and hemorrhoids to give you that sorrowful look." But the great religious leaders, including Billy Graham, the pope, C.S. Lewis, and Mother Teresa, all find much that makes them laugh.

Jesus was a joyful person, continually urging his followers to be joyful. In John 15:11 he explains to his disciples, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." Jesus was all for happiness. Don't miss the point in the Beatitudes by making the word "blessed" to be some solemn, otherworldly virtue. Scholars are agreed that the word Jesus used in Matthew 5 translated "blessed" could just as well read how


as in, "How happy are the poor in spirit." Jesus' conclusion is clear: "Rejoice and be exceeding glad" (Matthew 5:12).


A Gallup poll found that half of all Americans thought that Jesus was not fun-loving. But Jesus loved a good party. He performed his first miracle so that a wedding party could continue. In Luke 15,


parable ends with a party. His famous story of the prodigal son ends with a party, and the older son who would not attend the party is portrayed as the one with the problem. In fact, the picky people around Jesus criticized him for being a glutton and having such a good time (Luke 7:34). His long list of friends included people from every strata of society.

Jesus must have been a warm teddy bear on occasion because the children loved him (Matthew 19:13-15). Children are never attracted to solemn, always serious people, but the children must have loved the sparkle in Jesus' eyes, his warm open smile, and yes, his ready laugh. They clamored to be with him, even trying to find ways to get around the blockade of the disciples, who thought Jesus had more important things to do than hold a child on his lap. But Jesus, who was calling the shots, gave a reassuring smile to the children and said, "Let the children come to me, and don't hinder them" (Matthew 14:19).

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William Webber
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