Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jesus' death and resurrection: The Good Joke

John 20:19-31


There is much to be sad about in our lives. There is much to be angry about. There is much to be absolutely serious about in our lives. Yet, we don’t spend our whole life crying, screaming in anger, or calmly assessing and analyzing the things that we come across in our lives. There is a huge capacity for us to laugh, to be joyous, and not take everything seriously in our lives. Humor and comedy are definitely good for us and for our world which so often seems mired in the totally serious. Garrison Keillor has once said:

"Jokes are good for your health, they reduce stress, even ancient jokes like "She was only the stablemen's daughter, but all the horsemen knew her," even jokes as old as "Does this bus go to Duluth? No, this bus goes beep beep." Or the blind man who picked up a hammer and saw. They keep on pleasing us, year after year."

Keeping that in mind, here are a few jokes that I have recently heard:

Children Baptizing

After a hardy rainstorm filled all the potholes in the streets and alleys, a young mother watched her two little boys playing in the puddles through her kitchen window. The older of the two, a five year old lad, grabbed his sibling by the back of his head and shoved his face into the water hole.

As the boy recovered and stood laughing and dripping, the mother ran to the yard in a panic. 'Why on earth did you do that to your little brother?!' she asked as she shook the older boy in anger.

'We were just playing 'church' mommy,' he said. 'I was just baptizing the name of the Father, the Son and in...the hole-he-goes.'

Ole and Lena

Ole and Lena were so excited to get a new cellular phone. Ole was to call when he was on his way home from town. Ole called Lena when he entered the freeway.

"Lena put supper on, I'm on my way home."

Lena says, "Be careful because I hear some nut is driving the wrong way on the freeway."

"It's worse than that Lena, where I'm at there are a hundred cars going the wrong way!"

Jesus, Moses and The Old Man

Jesus and Moses and an old man were out playing golf on one beautiful Sunday afternoon. Both were doing pretty well, but were lamenting the water hazard that was coming up, as it was a particularly hard hole to hit par on.

Moses went first on this difficult hole. He set his ball, swung, and sent his little golf ball right into the center of the water hazard. As it was heading to the water, Moses quickly stuck his club in the air, the waters parted, and his balled rolled safely to the other side. Moses then chipped it on the green in two.

Jesus didn't do much better, however, hitting his ball to the water hazard as well. So, Jesus walked across the water to where his ball was and deftly pitched it on the green.

Finally, the old man that had been following them set his golf ball and swung. He absolutely shanked it off to the right. But just as the ball was heading out of bounds, a freak wind picked up and the ball hit a tree and rolled to the edge of the water. A frog that had been sitting on a lilly pad hopped over, and picked up the ball in his mouth. Then an eagle who had been watching the frog for quite some time, thinking Lunch, swooped down and picked up the frog and the golf ball. Momentarily startled, the frog hung onto the ball, but dropped the ball out of its mouth just as the eagle was flying over the green, and it rolled in for a hole in one.

Moses then turned to Jesus and said, "I hate it when your dad plays golf with us."

Seeing the sound of monks

A man is driving down the road and breaks down near a monastery.

He goes to the monastery, knocks on the door, and says, 'My car broke down.
Do you think I could stay the night'?

The monks graciously accept him, feed him dinner, and even fix his car. As
the man tries to fall asleep, he hears a strange sound; a sound like no other that he has ever heard. The next morning, he asks the monks what the
sound was, but they say, 'We can't tell you. You're not a monk'.

The man is disappointed but thanks them anyway and goes about his merry
way. Some years later, the same man breaks down in front of the same

The monks again accept him, feed him, and even fix his car.

That night, he hears the same strange mesmerizing sound that he had heard
years earlier.

The next morning, he asks what the sound was, but the monks reply,

'We can't tell you. You're not a monk'.

The man says, 'All right, all right. I'm dying to know. If the only way I
can find out what that sound was, is to become a monk, how do I become a

The monks reply, 'You must travel the earth and tell us how many blades of
grass there are and the exact number of sand pebbles. When you find these
numbers, you will become a monk'.

The man sets about his task. Some forty-five years later, he returns and
knocks on the door of the monastery. He says, 'I have travelled the earth
and devoted my life to the task demanded and have found what you had asked
for. There are 371,145,236, 284,232 blades of grass and 231,281,219,
999,129,382 sand pebbles on the earth'.

The monks reply, 'Congratulations, you are correct and now you are a monk'.

'We shall now show you the way to the sound'.

The monks lead the man to a wooden door, where the head monk says, the
sound is behind that door.

The man reaches for the knob, but the door is locked. He asks, 'May I have
the key'?

The monks give him the key, and he opens the door.

Behind the wooden door is another door made of stone. The man requests the
key to the stone door.

The monks give him the key, and he opens it, only to find a door made of
ruby. He demands another key from the monks, who provide it. Behind that
door is another door, this one made of sapphire. And so it went until the
man had gone through doors of emerald,......silver, topaz, and amethyst.

Finally, the monks say, 'This is the key to the last door'.

The man is relieved to no end. He unlocks the door, turns the knob, and
behind that door he is astonished to find the source of that strange sound.
It is truly an amazing and unbelievable sight

But I can't tell you what it is because you're not a monk.

We spend so much of our lives trying to “see” what is happening. We tend to trust what we can see, what we can measure, what we can verify with corroborating testimony and evidence. We are a curious people. We are curious to find out what is going on around us.

Thomas, that disciple who has gotten somewhat of a bad reputation over the years as a doubter, searches for his own physical evidence – to “see” what is happening. You see, one can look at his reaction to the other disciples who tell him about Jesus coming to them like the reaction to a bad and cruel joke meant to hurt him and “fool” him into something he knows at the core of his being shouldn’t be true. Not that the other disciples were meaning to play a cruel joke on him, but in everything that Thomas knew to be true, dead stayed dead unless Jesus himself commanded them to arise like he did with his friend Lazarus. But, now this friend and teacher had been executed by the Romans. To think that someone who had been killed could be alive again went against everything that he knew to be possible. It must simply be a joke.

However, that is exactly what Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are – a joke, not a cruel joke, but a joke played on the natural order of things in the world, a joke played on evil, sin, and death in which they are not only fooled but have their power utterly stripped away from them. Laughter can be good medicine, and jokes can be good for your health. There is a comedy and a humor in what Jesus does in dying for us on the cross and raising us to new life. The world is turned on its head by Jesus’ actions, and that is the essence of a good joke.

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