Daily Riches: Fun Jesus (James Martin)

“When I imagine Jesus, it is not simply as a person who heals the sick, raises the dead, stills the storm, and preaches the good news. It’s also as a man of great goodwill and compassion, with a zest for life …brimming with generous good humor. Full of high spirits. Playful. Even fun. Interestingly, in the past few decades two images of a joyful Jesus have enjoyed some popularity. The first is The Laughing Christ by Willis Wheatley, a sketch that shows Jesus’s head thrown back in open-mouthed laughter. The second is The Risen Christ By the Sea, a colorful portrait of Jesus wearing a broad smile and standing beside a fishing net, painted by Jack Jewell, a seascape artist, in the 1990s. These two paintings, among others, serve to counteract countless images of the gloomy Messiah. But both images are often mocked in sophisticated religious and academic circles. Admittedly, they are not ‘high art.’ …But I wonder if some eschew these portraits not for the quality of the artistry, but rather for their subject material. Is there something about a smiling Jesus that threatens our understanding of the man?” James Martin

“Jesus frequently called together His disciples, His followers and often strangers to dine with him. It doesn’t take too much imagination to picture these as joyful events – just think of enjoyable dinner parties and celebrations in your own life, full of laughter and good cheer, everyone delighting in one another’s company. There is a reason that one enduring image of heaven is a banquet. Maureen O’Connell, an assistant professor of theology at Fordham University, says, ‘At my house, we often laugh ourselves sick around the dinner table. Isn’t this the point of dinner parties?'” (Martin)

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say,
‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”
Matthew 11:18

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you uncomfortable with a Jesus who is “fun?” If so, can you say why?
  • Have you perhaps created a Jesus in your own image? …serious? …intense? …confrontational? …humorless?
  • It’s interesting to me that a woman says “we often laugh ourselves sick.”  Statistically men have fewer friends than women, and die younger. Men, in the future, will you regret not “lightening up” more – being so serious so much of the time?

Abba, help me not to take myself, or my life, so seriously.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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