Grace Notes – Gods Great Joke

There’s a story about some 15th century Bavarian monks.

As they pondered the meaning of the somber events of holy week — Maundy Thursday’s observance of Christ’s Last Supper, the remembrance of his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest and Good Friday’s remembrance of the Crucifixion — one of the monks began laughing, one of those huge belly laughs, shattering the quiet of their contemplation.

As his fellow monks looked at him, horrified at his seemingly inappropriate laughter, he told them, “Don’t you see? It was a joke! The Resurrection was the best joke in all history. On Good Friday when Jesus was crucified, the devil thought he had won.

“But God had the last laugh on Easter Sunday when he raised Jesus from the dead,” he said.

The monks called it Risus Paschalis, “the Easter laugh.”

Because the Resurrection is God’s great joke on the enemy of our souls, it’s the basis of why we can and should laugh, not just on Easter, not just during holy week, but yesterday, today and tomorrow.

But how can we laugh when we live in a broken world that keeps breaking our hearts?

So much anger, so much bitterness, factions and fury, disease, disaster, destruction, devastation.

School children in America gunned down all the damn time — how horrifically insane is that?

Even life’s best moments often leave us empty.

Sometimes, there’s not a whole lot to laugh about.

And yet, as Christians, we can laugh.

Not because these things aren’t true and we don’t suffer them, but because the Resurrection of Christ is our great hope that one day God will fix everything that’s broken.

Theologian Oswald Chambers once said Christians are “hilarious when crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible for anyone but God.”

Our laughter, even if mixed with tears, is our worship, our way of saying, “You are God and I am not. If you can raise Christ from the dead, surely you can care for me.”

Shortly before he died, Jesus told his followers, “A little while and you will not see me, and again in a little while you will see me.” He added, “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy” (John 16:19-20).

I imagine on that first Easter morning Jesus’ followers laughed with utter amazement to see their risen friend. “We buried you! We saw you dead! You’re alive?! This is nuts!”

Two thousand years later, Jesus’ words still apply as we suffer through this life: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.”

He also said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

One day God will wipe away all our tears. He will right all wrongs, fix everything that’s broken, restore what has been destroyed or robbed from us.

So, take heart, dear friends.

In anticipation of that day, even if we cry, we still can laugh.

Nancy Kennedy can be reached at 352-564-2927 or by email at

Nancy Kennedy


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