Does God have a Sense of Humour

In the story of Abraham and Sarah, I have always found it intriguing that they both laughed at the outrageous promise that God would send them a child.  Well sure, Abe was 99 and Sarah was 89 so it did seem preposterous.  Laughter seems appropriate.  But God doesn’t seem to mind. 

Douglas Adams in his wonderful book, The Prostitute in the Family Tree, maintains the Bible is a very funny book.  He points out that the stories, parables, even some of the miracles are full of irony and wit, if we can only see.  One instance of such irony gives the book its title.  The genealogy in Matthew 1 reveals that a prostitute, Rahab, shows up in Jesus’ family tree.  Adams says, if Jesus can overcome such a past, so can we!

The Gospels are full of Jesus’ humour:

        ‘Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  (Matthew 7.2)

When James and John want to call down fire on a Samaritan village, they are living up to the nickname Jesus gave them - ‘Sons of Thunder.’  (Mark 3.41)

        ‘Don’t throw your pearls before swine.’  (Matthew 7.6)

        ‘A fool builds his house on sand.’  (Matthew 7.26-27)

The story of Zacchaeus who climbs a tree to see Jesus is rather funny.  Zach gives up any sense of dignity in order to meet this teacher, who then promptly invites himself to Zach’s house.

Nathaniel, on hearing about Jesus’ origins, sarcastically comments:  ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’  (John 1.46).

Leonard Greenspon says this about humour and the New Testament (it could apply to the OT as well):

“And that, in short, is the message that humor conveys within the New Testament; namely, that humans, no matter how stressful or eventful their lives are, need lighter moments and experiences as much as, or even more than, the drama or angst life throws at us. And Jesus, as part of this cast of characters, indulges in a variety of humorous interactions, as do his closest and most dedicated followers.”  (  ).

C.S. Lewis once wrote that ‘Joy is the serious business of heaven.’  Think about that the next time you read a Biblical story.

In our Genesis story, God never judges the old couple for their laughter but seems to join the general hilarity by telling them to name their son Isaac, which means ‘laughter.’  Can you picture Sarah standing at the door of the tent and calling Laughter in for supper, even as she exchanges smiles with old Abe already at table.  And perhaps they often remembered the words spoken the day the promise was given:  ‘Is anything impossible for the Lord?’  (Genesis 18.14)