“Did Jesus Laugh?” by Katie Taylor
Did Jesus laugh?
It’s a question I’ve wrestled with.
From the moment I met Jesus personally and received his extravagant grace, I was able to laugh in a way I hadn’t since I was a little girl. Not that I ever stopped laughing, but this was different. Knowing my sins are covered has led to carefree, joyful, pure laughter from the bottom of my belly! No restrictions! Jeremiah puts words to it:
“I will build you up and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” (Jeremiah 31:4 NIV)
I believe Jesus has been right there with me in these joyful, laughing moments. I believe he created laughter and delights in experiencing it fully with us.
But as I poured through the pages of the Bible, I found no direct answer to my question or instance of him laughing. This puzzled me. Why isn’t it in there? We know for a fact that he wept. Maybe the man of sorrows didn’t laugh because he knew the cross was coming? Taking on the sin of the world was no lighthearted task; it was deeply serious. There are no words to express the gravity of such a call.
As I wrestled with this, the deeper question that surfaced was – is it okay with God for us to be that joyful? Should there be restrictions or conditions? Maybe we should keep a lid on it? Can holy and jovial really belong together? Along the way, I have picked up subtle spoken and unspoken messages that they can’t.
In my wrestling, I reached out to two mentors.
One excitedly and wisely reminded me that Isaac’s name means “son of laughter” and that through Isaac, God created the people who would receive the abundant joy of Christ.
The other reminded me that Jesus was a child and that children laugh. Then, as an adult, he welcomed little children. She suggested that people who choose to be around little children usually laugh! Jesus also says we should be like little children, so he must delight in our laughter. When I tell my children not to laugh, the little stinkers erupt in giggles. They just can’t help it!
She mailed me a picture a local artist had sketched at her church of Jesus laughing. I burst into smile when I saw it – what a treasure.
This week, I was reminded of it while reading about Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana (see John 2: 1-11). I have never fully understood the “why” behind this miracle, but studying it more deeply blew my mind! In those times, the family was expected to provide all of the wine for the extended celebration and not doing so was an embarrassment. This family did not have the means to provide enough and it ran out.
Can you imagine the shame of not being able to provide at this special time of family celebration? The (perhaps familiar) notion that “they are not enough” was in the forefront for all to see. And can you imagine their complete joy and awe when they discovered the abundance of fine wine Jesus miraculously supplied? And the shame that fell away at the joy of his provision? I have to think Isaac’s mama could relate!
My study notes suggest the reason Jesus’s first display of glory was providing an abundance of wine at a wedding feast was “so that common folk could be fully celebrated.” John was testifying that “Christ’s saving mission would culminate in the redemption of creation from all its distresses so that the wine of joy would flow fully.”
Does that not stop you in your tracks? Jesus wants us to have abundant joy and has come to provide it. What we lack, he delights in pouring out to the full. And we are not common to him at all! I wonder what the expressions on his face were that night as he and the guests carried on in the joyful celebration.
As I was reflecting on the beauty of his giving joy to the common, he sweetly reminded me of a time he let me in on it. It wasn’t a miracle, but a very simple thing. For the past few years, I have volunteered at Lincoln Village Ministries and walked alongside the middle school girls. One year, we surprised the girls at Christmas with Grace Girl beads and let them make their own necklaces.
One of the girls told her teacher it was her very first necklace. She had never had any jewelry before! This broke my heart. I’ve delighted in giving my daughters jewelry from the time they were babies because it says “you are special to me,” but this 13-year-old girl had never worn a necklace. She was very quiet while making the necklace, but absolutely giddy when putting it on!
I can recall this precious girl, usually downcast, walking back to her class that day with a little skip in her step, one hand swinging and the other touching that necklace, making sure it was still there. Adorned in jewels, feeling beautiful, special, and chosen…giggling in her giddiness. And I believe Jesus was right there skipping along beside her…with an expression of pure, joyful laughter on his face.
At least it was mine when I saw her delight.
He gives joy to the needy, providing what we can’t. A double portion of grace instead of shame…life for the barren…extravagance to the common…robes for rags…tambourines for dancing…wine from water…just a taste of what’s to come for his beloved bride.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 ESV)
So, what do you think?
Did Jesus laugh?