Relax this is not a journey to Jerusalem or Rome for those so inclined. There are many portraits of Jesus laughing but I haven’t seen any actual photos. There is a famous artist rendering of the face of Jesus smiling on one side but sad on the opposite side. I have often wondered what the hell would he have to laugh or even smile about? Honestly, here is a guy who didn’t kill anyone, rob anyone, or beat the heck out of anyone. Knowing that, I have to wonder why, he was arrested, kind of tried, beaten, brutalized, hanged on a tree until he was dead and then some idiot jabs spear into his side. This is some serious stuff but hardly a laughing matter. You wouldn’t catch me smiling or laughing, just really pissed off would be my frame of mind. Yeah,yeah I’m sure he was a bigger man than me but that in itself is not much of a stretch. Nope, I see no glamour or laughter there.
His life is supposed to be a guide for us all but that last part I’ll take a pass on. What part should guide me? Let’s see what we kind of know about this itinerant preacher. Whether we really know or not is he actually a good model to which we should aspire?
We are told he was a carpenter. He worked with his hands and built things. No high-rise buildings but items that people and families needed. He didn’t own a building or a business. No financial equity firms producing millions and building nothing but very rich people bought his business out of bankruptcy. He did some traveling but mostly on foot although he did take an occasional boat ride. No luxury yacht, just sit on the deck with some smelly fisherman. That one hits a little close to home. He didn’t have a wife or children but apparently large crowds followed him and many even loved him. This kind of sounds like a nice guy but is that the path I want? What else might encourage me or us to follow his lead?
He loved his mother. Family was important. His loyalty to people was paramount. He was deeply religious. We may not know how but he was quite knowledgeable in his Jewish faith. He helped people, even healed some. He spoke to people about forgiveness, understanding, love, taking care of those with less, the sick and prisoners. Now we’re talking. This is some good stuff. Stuff to aspire to, when I have the time. So what the hell happened? Why hang Him when he seemed like such a nice guy?
The land where he lived was controlled by a foreign dictatorial government. The leaders of his religion catered to, no sought to emulate the lifestyle of their foreign masters. He took exception and then did something really dumb. He spoke out against the abuse, the lack of fairness and equity, the quest for riches while many stepped on those interfering with their quest for money and power. He actually got upset. No more like really angry after he had explained this is not who we are supposed to be. This can’t be how we help and care for each other. He even reached out to the Samaritans who had no great love for the Jewish people nor did the Jews love them. He asked are any of you listening, he questioned through his actions? He learned around the age of 33 that you can’t take to the streets and criticize the powers that be and expect to walk away unscathed. Those in control don’t like criticism from the little people. They, the powerful and the rich, took control way back then and had no intention of relinquishing it. Are we giving it to them today? Are the rich and powerful any kinder or gentler today? They certainly are no less forgiving.
Jesus probably did laugh occasionally and smile back then. Today he must look at us and wonder about so many of us and our claim to be religious. We attend different churches, traditional and the big box type or relax in our homes to our pray TV. We love ourselves and find reasons to despise others. We pick and choose our sins while also trying to make them illegal for others. We cling to our perceived self-righteousness all the while thinking to ourselves, really Jesus we have this under control. We don’t need you here anymore. I doubt he is smiling or laughing now and neither am I and neither should you.