In my office, I have a picture of Jesus with his head thrown back, laughing. He looks happy, and I can just imagine him sharing a joke with his friends. Maybe he liked knock-knock jokes, or perhaps he loved puns. I truly hope he loved puns, particularly the really bad ones, the real groaners (so to speak)!
So many times, we think of Jesus only as serious and stern. We picture him teaching on a hillside or casting out demons or controlling the wind and waves. We imagine him debating with the Pharisees and angrily turning over the tables in the Temple. We envision him weeping in the Garden of Gethsemane and stoically enduring the brutality of Pontius Pilate and his soldiers.
But we don’t often picture Jesus as laughing. We don’t spend much time thinking about him feeling amused and happy, or sitting around telling jokes with his friends. In fact, I’m going to guess that most of us have never even thought about whether he had a good sense of humor – if he liked practical jokes or if he ever got a fit of the giggles.
Maybe we should envision a happy, laughing Jesus more often. Our world is full of suffering and circumstances beyond our control, and it is important for us to connect with Jesus in those moments – to recognize him in the trenches with us, suffering and weeping and struggling right beside us.
But our world is also full of blessings and moments of joy and love. How amazing to know that Jesus is right there with us in our happy moments as well, celebrating our blessings and joining in our laughter and our joy, giggling right along with us.
Sometimes we don’t pay as much attention to those blessed and happy moments as we do to those moments when we are struggling. But maybe we should.
This week, I am going to try and keep that image of “Laughing Jesus” in my mind, to help me be more aware of the moments of blessing in my life, to remind me to recognize Jesus in the laughter and the joy. The next time my father-in-law shares a bad pun on Facebook, I’m going to picture Jesus laughing, and groaning, and shaking his head with a smile in his eyes.
I hope that no matter the circumstances and challenges of life, you too will have an encounter with Jesus when his head is thrown back and he is laughing, even if just for a moment.