Mr. Cichowicz, a free-lance writer and communication
specialist, shares his thoughts on his vision of a smiling, joyful Christ
and God's great last laugh.
My seven year old son asked why he never sees pictures of Jesus laughing. I assured him that a few such artistic renditions do exist, but admittedly I'm not aware of many.
My answer satisfied my son. But his question still bothers me. Research shows that a sense of humor and the ability to laugh heartily and often are good for you, both physically and mentally. I believe they are also critical to our spiritual well-being.
Imagine what it must have been like for Joseph. On his way home from a hard day in the carpentry shop, a neighbor stops him and says, "I heard about Jesus staying behind at the Temple. I think He should be punished."
Joseph pauses, just long enough to remember Who Jesus' real Father is. He winks at Mary: "Maybe you ought to do it."
I suppose we all have favorite images of Jesus. I'm sure some prefer to see Him as teacher, passionately delivering the Sermon on the Mount; others picture Him displaying anger as He routs the money changers from the Temple; still others envision Him in anguish on the cross.
I prefer the Lord smiling, even laughing, because I'm convinced the human side of Jesus could not have endured His public ministry (not to mention the company of His apostles) nor even accepted His crucifixion without a sense of humor.
Of all the places where Jesus could have performed His first miracle, He chose a wedding. No doubt He was surrounded by people laughing and enjoying themselves. Perhaps Jesus danced with His mother -- or maybe with a rotund aunt who wouldn't take no for an answer.
When the wine needed replenishing, Jesus could have matter-of-factly told the waiters the urns have been refilled. Instead, He instructs them to fill the urns with water. But wait a minute, fellas, take a look. That's not water in there; it's wine. And not just any wine, but the choicest in the land. Gotcha!
Did Jesus play practical jokes? I don't know, but I'd have loved to have been there when Peter asked Jesus to teach him to walk on water. All goes well for awhile -- Peter's actually doing it -- he's near the boat --
I can imagine Jesus unable to resist saying to His soggy apostle, "You know, Peter, if your faith was just a little stronger..."
Or how about the time Jesus was walking and preaching to the masses, only to look up at the diminutive tax collector, Zaccheus, hanging precariously from a tree.
I imagine that even today Jesus delights -- not in a mean-spirited way, but with perfect love -- in watching us struggle with our human imperfections. Like when we play "Let's Make a Deal" with God: "Lord, let me out of this speeding ticket just this once, and I promise I'll try to get to church every week."
No doubt, many of us who attend church are another source of amusement, sleeping through the sermon, singing off-key enough to make the heavenly host cringe, and shaking hands with strangers so reluctantly you'd think everyone there was wearing a joy buzzer!
What makes me think Jesus has a well-honed sense of humor? A big element of humor is surprise. That's why people laugh when someone slips on a banana peel. They're not being cruel. When someone is walking down the street, we expect them to keep going -- not suddenly fly up into the air and land with a thud. What makes that whole scenario funny is the surprise.
In a sense, the "banana peel" of our faith is the empty tomb. Until Jesus came, once people died and were buried, they stayed put. So the "surprise" of Jesus' resurrection (after some initial fear, panic, and doubt) first brought joy, then good humor, and ultimately laughter to His followers. So it does even today.
As Christians, we know we are destined to have the last laugh. And the joke will be on those who refuse to believe.
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