The shortest verse in the bible is not ‘Jesus laughed’ or ‘Jesus smiled’, but ‘Jesus wept.’ He is not known as a laughing deity, like some buddhas are, but rather, as the Man of Sorrows.
Looking for an image that I could use to illustrate this post, I was unable to locate one that showed Jesus laughing, or even smiling, that I felt was not irreverent.
Is it any wonder, then, that people have a hard time imagining that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, could have a sense of humor, or enjoy many other things that regular human beings enjoy. Why is this?
It's a form of latent Gnosticism, isn't it, that Christians in all times and ages have had a difficult time getting used to Jesus as a Man with all that it implies.
Jesus Christ is the θεανθρωπος, theánthropos, the ‘God-Man’ as we call Him in the Greek Orthodox Church. We're eager to confess Him as Lord and God, but we sometimes don't know how to be comfortable with Him as Man. I notice that many of the trends in modern evangelical worship tend to make the experience not far removed in atmosphere from a club or coffeehouse. This shocks the Orthodox, but we return the favor by shocking our liturgically antipodal brethren with our over-the-top ceremonialism. Touché!
Worship is how we relate to the God half of the indivisible God-Man, but everything else about our Christian life needs to proceed from our relationship to the Man half of that same, unique Being. Why? Because He has somehow taken up our humanity with Him into the Godhead, so that the Holy Triad should no longer seem alien to us, as we are indwelt by Him and live in Them.
Jesus the Man did have a sense of humor, as we can see if we can make ourselves read the gospels without a religious bias. In fact, His attitude toward religion itself was sometimes quite humorous.
It’s because the Church throughout much of her history has been in bondage to religious spirits rather than in manly relationship with the Saviour that all kinds of atrocities have been committed in His name—wars, persecutions, tortures, you name it. Nothing that satan hasn't tried outside the Church hasn't also been tried inside her—not by Christians, of course, but by the bad seed that the enemy has sown there.
When we meet the saints of today, those who, as Martin Luther said, ‘canonize themselves,’ we find human beings who are fully human and yet partake of the Divine Nature in some way we cannot quite fathom, but whatever it is they have, we want, that is, if we really want Jesus. Otherwise, the saints are merely an annoyance at best, or an embarrassment and conviction at worst. ‘Just ignore them. Maybe they’ll go away!’
Following Jesus, we can laugh at the world and its schemes and threats, because He defeated it on the Cross and He defeats it in us who believe and follow Him every day.
There is a time for laughter, and a time to be serious, even solemn. And there too, let Jesus the God-Man show us the way. Let’s worship Him as did His disciple John the Revelator, in fear and awe, but let’s also walk with Him as did His disciples on that road to Emmaus, except, unlike them, may we recognize Him right away.