September 29, 2013

Laughing Jesus

Laughing Jesus

Our United Methodist Church In Bluff Point, New York, now displays a banner in the sanctuary featuring a portrait of the Laughing Jesus, a constant reminder that the Son of God was also a man.  And laughing is a human activity. 

We rarely picture Jesus as a historical figure involved in human activities like laughing, smiling, singing, shouting, eating, drinking, swimming, running or working as a carpenter. Yet these are the activities that filled his daily life

Though people have been searching for the Jesus of history for centuries, none of us can know what he was really like. We depend on our own imagination based on the accounts of his life and death as recorded in the Gospels.  When we do that, it’s important that we not neglect Jesus’ human characteristics for without them the gulf between us is insurmountable.

But pull Christ off the stained glass window and consider him having flesh and blood like yours and mine, and you will believe in him as a living historical figure who laughed, felt pain, cried and bled, and the gap between us and God is bridged.

German theologian, Heinz Zahrnt, in a book titled The Historical Jesus, makes the point this way: 
“From the very beginning right until the present day the Church has been tempted to stress the “divinity” of Christ so one-sidedly that his manhood threatened to become a mere semblance. God offered Himself in an earthen vessel, but men down the ages have made it into a golden monstrance.”
Accepting the Son of God in an earthen vessel should not be difficult. After all, his life began in a stable.