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The last laugh

I tend to wince slightly when people say, ‘God’s got a sense of humour’. I think it sounds a bit disrespectful, as if the person saying this sees God as some kind of omnipotent jokester.

But although the Bible certainly isn’t a heavenly joke book, it does however contain humour. It even shows God laughing!

Psalm 2:2-4 says, ‘The kings of the earth rise up… against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.’

We also see this in Psalm 37:13: ‘The Lord laughs at the wicked, for He knows their day is coming.’

It’s how God reacts to those seeking to oppose His people, purposes or plans.

Wit and wordplay

Jesus’ words in Matthew 4:18-19 and Mark 1:16-17 play on the idea of men who fish, now fishing for men. It’s one of the many examples of wit and wordplay, humour and hyperbole woven throughout the New Testament.

As the 1961 film Barabbas has the fisherman and apostle Peter point out, ‘He said that in future our fish would be men… It was a serious joke.’

Our Saviour is of course a master of wit and wordplay. What about the time He makes the humorous point about people straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel?

It’s not only a probable pun on the Aramaic word ‘galma’ for gnat and ‘gamla’ for camel, but is an amusingly surreal image.

There is also the time when Jesus tells the comical tale of the hypocrite whose sight is good enough for him to see a speck in his friend’s eye but isn’t good enough for him to see the plank in his own.

I also love it when Jesus helps Peter pay the temple tax by helping him find a providentially positioned coin-swallowing fish (Matthew 17:24-27), shows experienced fishermen the best place to cast their nets (Luke 5:4-6), names the volatile brothers James and John ‘Boanerges’ — ‘Sons of thunder’, or prophetically calls His inconsistent disciple Simon by the name ‘Cephas’ — ‘the Rock’.

Out in the cold

There’s a scene when Peter is released from prison in Jerusalem that also makes me smile. Acts 12:1-17 shows that, although the believers were praying for Peter’s release, when he finally turns up, the servant Rhoda is so overjoyed at hearing his voice that she rushes off — leaving Peter outside!

Even worse is the fact that, despite the disciples’ prayers for Peter’s deliverance, when they’re told that God has answered their request, they refuse to believe Rhoda and tell her she’s out of her mind!

But are we, I wonder, any better?

Do we sometimes pray without expecting or believing that God will respond? Or, when God has answered our prayers, do we tend to forget what it was we once prayed for, or fail to thank Him for it?

Some chapters later, something even more unusual occurs. Acts 20:7-12 describes how Paul talked until midnight. A young man sinks into a deep sleep as the apostle ‘talked on and on’, then falls to his death from a third storey window.

But Paul, the one who helped send young Eutychus to sleep — and might possibly have been accused of ‘boring’ him to death — raises him to life again!

Then, having returned upstairs to break bread and eat, Paul continues talking until daylight…

It’s deeply reassuring, I think, that Scripture portrays people so realistically, whether it’s a talkative Paul or a sleepy Eutychus, who presumably managed to stay awake this time!

It’s further proof — if proof were needed — of Scripture’s truthfulness and reliability.

Laughter and life

History’s ultimate irony lies in the fact that, because Jesus was crucified, the Creator was killed by His creation. And yet, while everyone else’s life ends in death, Jesus’ death resulted in life.

That the very worst day — the day on which Jesus died — became our best, is perhaps the profoundest and most beautiful irony of all.

In the end, however bad things might seem to us, the Lord will get the last laugh, and all will be well.


This devotion is written by MAF UK’s Copywriter and Editor, Gary Clayton.