WHEN JESUS WAS WALKING this earth, the Bible records that he displayed a diverse range of human emotions. He cried in compassion with the mourners before he went to revive Lazarus from the grave. He was filled with wrath as he overturned the tables of the money changers who were using religion to exploit people. He felt concern for his earthly mother when he was dying on the cross and asked one of his disciples to watch after her. And considering this diverse range of emotions that Jesus displayed, it seems puzzling that the Scripture writers never spoke of Jesus’ laughter.
Of course, Jesus had many reasons not to laugh. His disciples, for instance, were a thick-headed, self-centered, and cowardly bunch who ended up abandoning him at the moment of his greatest suffering. The authorities at the time were more interested in challenging or silencing him rather than learning from him. Even the people whom he had healed physically of their infirmities rarely ever returned to thank him or ask the next logical question: “Who is this man who can heal our bodies with a simple command from his lips?” And, to add insult to injury, in the end he was accused of blasphemy, stripped of his cloths and dignity, whipped by Roman soldiers, and pierced with nails onto a wooden beam. His life was, without question, unfunny.
In fact, after surveying the events leading up to his crucifixion, laughter then would seem to border on insanity—like a madman laughing hysterically at a tragic story. Or like a prisoner who is beaten so much that his sad weeping turns into a pathetic and senseless laughter. Mirth just seems out of place in the context of the cross.
So the problem, I believe, is not that Jesus could not laugh. The problem seems to be that for much of his life, he had so little to laugh about.
But the question still remains: Did Jesus laugh? And the glorious answer is yes! Since we are created in His image, the understanding is that laughter must also be part of His divine personality. God’s laughter is the expression of the perfect happiness found within the Trinity— a deep joyfulness shared between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
But this laughter is likely radically different from ours. There is, I suspect, a purity and irresistible intimacy to His laughter that transcends anything that anyone has ever heard before. And I also suspect that the full revelation of this part of God’s character will not be revealed to us until one day when all the moral chaos of this world is permanently reconciled and His children are gathered snuggly within His arms. I am, of course, referring to heaven.
In fact, when it is time for me to “meet the Creator,” the first thing that I want to experience is not a brilliant light or some idyllic, distant shore. The first thing I want to experience is His laughter.
During the day, my life as a doctor can be very stressful. Dealing with depression, cancer, alcohol abuse, and the ravages of old age is part of my normal routine. When the day is done, going home to a warm house and a loving family is like finding a cool stream after a long hike. And the one thing that most confirms that I’m finally home is this—the sounds of my children playing and laughing. When I reach heaven, I honestly hope that I will know that I’m finally home by the sounds of His divine laughter.