A friend recently asked me, “did Jesus ever laugh or at least smile?” I have been asked this question a number of times and I suppose it is not surprising. Many Christians, when talking about matters of faith, come across as downtrodden and smug. Sin, it seems, is a serious matter and requires a serious tone to talk about, right? Hmmm, while sin is a serious matter, I am not so sure about the latter point. There is another reason people are left to wonder about Jesus’ disposition- the Bible itself. The Bible does not explicitly mention Jesus laughing or smiling, it does however capture him shedding tears, lamenting, suffering and being upset. Some conclude then that, even though the Bible admittedly does not capture everything Jesus did and said (John 21:25), Jesus must not have smiled (that is a sad perspective). But let’s get real here. First of all, you and I are made in God’s image and we laugh and smile. Simply based on that alone you can figure Jesus, the one through whom all things were made, laughed and smiled. I am hard pressed to imagine a creator making people in his own image and giving us such a life-giving ability, if it does not come from Him. And concerning the Bible, even though the New Testament does not say Jesus laughed it does tell us he was “full of joy” (Luke 10:21)! I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time seeing anyone “full of joy” not at least smiling. Lastly, I also cannot imagine Jesus being received by all the sinners and tax collectors he hung with if he were just a frowning stick in the mud. I imagine instead that Jesus, the wine from water maker (BTW, see Psalm 104:15), was the life of the party! “In him was life and that life was the light of man” (John 1:4). So did Jesus smile and laugh? This laughing disciple says wholeheartedly, yes he did and does!
So, what does all this smiling and laughing have to do with Saturday’s message? Well, a number of things. First of all, it is part 2 of the message of Life- The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is at work in life bringing, of all things, joy! Joy is a fruit of the Spirit often overlooked (for the same reason some people don’t think Jesus smiled). Joy is a deep emotion that is a result of being in right relationships. Yes, joy is clearly relational. When was the last time you busted up laughing all by yourself? Yes, I do know it can happen, but it is unusual. Most often we are in the midst of others when we laugh. That is because joy and laughter is relational. Just think on that for now and we will talk about it more this weekend. My second reason for bringing up smiling, laughter and joy is that I always imagine the crowd smiling and even laughing when they hear Jesus speaking the words we are looking at this Saturday. Ironically, the words are woes to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law (Matthew 23:23-24). So why do I image the crowds smiling and laughing? Well, you will have to join us this Saturday to find out!
~Pastor Cole 🙂