Do you think the Bible is funny? I do. Well, not all of it, of course, but don’t tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor. His humor is not only displayed in his handiwork (have you ever seen an aardvark?) but also in his Word. And some days when I’m reading my Bible I just burst out laughing at something I’m sure others would not find funny.
One day I was reading in Luke 11 where Jesus had been invited to dinner at the home of a Pharisee. Jesus walked into the Pharisee’s home and sat down to eat without the ceremonial hand cleaning. This did not go unnoticed by his host, but the Bible isn’t really clear on whether the host said anything or Jesus just knew what he was thinking. It’s at this point, however, that Jesus takes the opportunity to tell the Pharisee and his friends that they are way off base with all their rules and regulations. Now really, there’s nothing funny about that, but personally, had I been Jesus (and you can be thankful that I’m not) I would have waited until AFTER dinner. Clearly he wasn’t really hungry. I mean, from my point of view, criticizing the host BEFORE you’ve eaten his food is just a bad idea. No telling what he’d do to your food or whether you’d even get any.
Contrast that story to one earlier in Luke when Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law. (This is the same Simon who was later named Peter.) In Luke 4 Jesus is hanging out in Capernaum, teaching at the synagogue, and while he’s there he casts a demon out of a guy. That’s where we pick up this story: “After leaving the synagogue that day, Jesus went to Simon’s home, where he found Simon’s mother-in-law very sick with a high fever. ‘Please heal her,’ everyone begged. Standing at her bedside, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. And she got up at once and prepared a meal for them.” (Luke 4:38-39)
Did you catch that? The woman was clearly incredibly ill. Yet Jesus walked in, healed her, and she got up to make him dinner! Way to go, Jesus! He was not going to risk missing his meal that night!
What’s so funny about this, you ask? Well, people who know me know that I don’t particularly like to cook. Unlike the woman in the the story, the truth is that if I’d been sick and near death I’m not so sure I would have just popped up from my bed and rushed into the kitchen. When I recover from an illness, I like to milk it for a bit. I can go three or four days saying things like “We should probably go out tonight. I’ve been sick, you know.”
But that’s the power of Jesus. He didn’t just make this woman a little bit well. He didn’t just take her fever away and assure her that she’d live. He went all the way – big-time healing – not a gradual healing but a “full of energy, jump back into life” kind of healing, because there weren’t any restaurants in Capernaum.
Nancy loves to laugh and considers laughter a critical part of human survival. If you were to ask, most days she would say her glass is half full but when it starts reaching the half-empty level, she reaches for a funny book or movie knowing that indeed “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Nancy has three married sons and five grandchildren. To read more from Nancy find her at www.nancyholte.com.
I am smiling as I write this. I love the idea that after being healed, the woman pops up and runs on into the kitchen, never thought of those stories in the Bible like that!