What if Jesus had fun?
The other day I saw a “picture” of Jesus on Facebook (even though no one has a clue what He looked like). I understand the intent of a picture of Jesus but they all seem to make Him look rather ethereal, soft, and mild – seldom smiling – never laughing. Yet, when I read the New Testament, I see a really tough guy who, I think, also laughed. No, there’s no Scripture where He’s telling a joke but I still think He laughed and had fun. Why? Because I do – you do – we all do – and we are made in His image! He was a carpenter engaged in hard, dirty manual labor. He was tough enough to endure abuse and humiliation. He faced off with the devil and won. He walked everywhere He went. He slept in cold, hard places. He also spent the night with friends – maybe laughing a little. He got mad several times in the New Testament. He was straightforward as to what He thought about certain groups – not in a complimentary way. He cried. Obviously He had lots of emotion so why not laughter and joy?
Was He serious all the time, focused on dying? I just don’t think so. The Bible is filled with the word joy. Jesus said that He wanted us to have joy. Yes, I’m smart enough to know that this didn’t mean “knock, knock jokes” kind of joy. It referred to something much deeper. I’m also smart enough to realize that joy and laughter are vital parts of our lives. I don’t know anyone who can resist the belly-laugh of a baby or the raucous laughter of a child – it always makes us smile at the very least, and usually we begin to laugh along with them. A joyous person is contagious and it’s good for our health – we need laughter and happiness and joy. Why do we think that Jesus was no fun – just this serious, pious sort of guy who walked around in a bubble of holiness? Holiness was just part of Him and he definitely was not religious! So, I think He was probably a fun guy! He endured the cross because of the “joy” set before Him – Wow!
Based on that, I want to ask you a question. Would the gospels have a different effect on you if you read them picturing a happy, laughing Jesus who might have laughed so hard He snorted or cried? I also wonder how we would change if we read the Bible looking for the “do’s” instead of the “don’ts”? Just the do’s. Because, I think if we focused on what He wants us to do (the do’s), we wouldn’t have to worry much about what He doesn’t want us to do (the don’ts). I also think we might be a lot happier and more loving. Remember that thing He said about how we would be known by our love for one another? Well, sad, religiously burdened, don’t-people are usually not very loving or joy-filled because they are so focused on rules that they can’t even remember the part about joy, abundant life, and love. Love is happy. Love is a “do” word. Life is a “do” word. Joy is a “do” word.
We even read the “do’s” as “don’ts!” What is wrong with us? When Jesus was pointing out the incorrect things the people were doing during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-6), He was simply trying to open their eyes to see what they really needed to do instead. We see all the stuff He said not to do. Yes, He did issue some don’ts. However, He always gave a “do” to take the place of the “don’t.” He even gave a simple prayer they could pray – the Lord’s Prayer – and tried to give them examples to make their lives easier by getting out from under the burden of the law (don’ts). Grace is a “do” word. We didn’t earn it so – rejoice! We got the best gift ever, didn’t deserve it, got it anyway and then we go all down-in-the-mouth trying to deserve it.
Good grief. What if you re-read the Sermon on the Mount and picture some laughter when Jesus pointed out some of the dumb stuff we do? What if we simply have a big party of laughter, rejoicing, thanksgiving and praise because of the unimaginable gift of grace we have been given? And we keep rejoicing as we do the “do’s.”
I’m not trying to minimize the power or impact or seriousness of Jesus’ words. That’s all true. But – what if, in the midst of all that, there was hope, laughter, joy, and love? He came to bring hope and light into the world. That’s not sad – that’s awesome. I would encourage you to try to change your “picture” of Jesus. Not as an ethereal, unattainable vision but as a real person with dirt under his fingernails and a smile on his lips, laughing openly and loudly. Dancing in the street like David did. Nehemiah said “the joy of Lord is your strength.”
1 Peter 1:8-9, The Voice, “Although you haven’t seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don’t yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith.”
Romans 15:13, The Voice, “I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Read John 15:11; 17:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; Psalm 51:12.
Luke 10:21, The Voice, “Then Jesus Himself became elated(thrilled, delighted, overjoyed, ecstatic, euphoric). The Holy Spirit was on Him, and He began to pray with joy. Thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Thank You for hiding Your mysteries from the wise and intellectual, instead revealing it to little children.” What if He was laughing hysterically when He talked to the Father?
John 15:11, The Voice, “I want you to know the delight (joy) I experience, to find the ultimate satisfaction, which is why I am telling you all of this.”
Go out today and try having some fun with Jesus right at your side – be filled with His joy.