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I've always heard "God must have a sense of humor because he created X". Usually X is "the platypus" or "me".

Also, it should be evident that Jesus, being human, had a sense of humor. It's part of the human experience.

But, is there anywhere in the Bible where humor on the part of God is actually recorded? Furthermore, is there any doctrinal stance supported by extra-biblical (yet inspired) text that indicates God's sense of humor?

I'm interested in both humor from Jesus (as I don't know of any) as well as humor from the heavens (either God while Jesus was here on Earth or anything before or after that point).

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It would be a sin for me to reveal the very last line of Chesterton's Orthodoxy, so I strongly advise you to read it yourself –  Peter Turner Sep 23 '11 at 15:06
    
Would you like to accept an answer? –  Wikis Jan 2 '12 at 10:07
    
@Wikis I would love to accept an answer. And the first sentence in your answer is as close as I have come to finding one that was useful to me. But there is still not an answer that really answers my question, so I'm forced to leave all the answers unaccepted. –  Richard Jan 5 '12 at 12:11
    
What would you require in an answer to accept it? –  Wikis Jan 5 '12 at 12:49
    
What a great question. –  Jim G. Mar 6 '12 at 23:56

14 Answers 14

Sadly, there is no record of Jesus laughing. The closest is in Luke 10:21:

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit

I'd imagine that, when He was full of joy, at the very least He had a big smile on His face.

Update: apparently Jesus thinks laughing is a blessing; from Luke 6:21b:

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

(Two verses further, He even commends jumping for joy!)

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Don't forget Hebrews 12:2 , that says the reason Christ endured the Cross was for the joy set before him. :) –  2tim424 Sep 23 '11 at 19:46

From the Sermon on the mount:

Luke 6:41-42 (NASB)
41 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

If you try to visualize that, it's hard to argue that the hyperbole wasn't intended to be humorous. How is it possible to have a log in your eye and still see anything? You couldn't even turn your head without the log banging into something.

This example is a little more subtle:

Mark 12:35-37 (NASB)
35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit,

‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET.”’

37 David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.

Jesus presented the scribes with a riddle they couldn't answer, but why did Mark point out that the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him? It sounds to me like Jesus was making fun of the scribes. The scribes thought they had all the answers and they wanted everyone else to think that too, but they couldn't answer this question. The crowed had a good laugh at the scribe's expense.

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When I was a teen, I asked the current group leader this very question because I didn't want to follow a God that couldn't laugh. His answer was that he didn't think Jesus would have "wasted a breath of air on a joke." Yet, I can't help but go back to the very basic idea that since we are created in his image, he must enjoy things, and part of enjoyment is laughter. If God were "all business" I don't think the world would have color or character or much variety.

Or the platypus.

I was encouraged to expand my answer, so I googled this question and happened upon Jim Daly's, current president of Focus on the Family, blog. In it, he expressed:

Somebody recently pointed out to me that in classic Greek comedy, the play ends with the actors crying and the audience laughing. In contrast, in Shakespearean comedy, the play ends with both the actors and audience laughing.

The moral of the story?

In the classic Greek model, the audience is left to feel superior to the individuals on stage. Their laughter is a form of mockery. Yet in the English model, both actors and audience are relating to one another, seeing the same thing and finding the same humor in it. In this model, there is no smugness, only a shared sense of joy. Modern comedy all too often seems to revolve around trying to have fun by making fun.

That’s not the type of laughter Jesus shared with His disciples. I suspect He was only inclined to laugh with—not at—others. He didn’t put people down; He only lifted them up. [emphasis mine]

If we believe Jesus was who he said he was, and God is love, then it seems only logical that he would indeed want to encourage and lift us up. Laughter is a great way to do that.

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I think Jesus probably laughed, but the apostles had more important things to write about. :) –  Bingo Mar 6 '12 at 12:21
    
Could you expand this into a bit more of an answer? –  wax eagle Mar 8 '12 at 15:19
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@waxeagle What makes it incomplete? I gave my opinion? Are you hoping for scripture to back it up? –  Nick DeVore Mar 12 '12 at 18:44
    
@NickDeVore doesn't have to be scripture, just looking for an outside reference here. Scripture is great, a commentary would be solid. –  wax eagle Mar 12 '12 at 18:45

Psalm 37:12-13 The wicked plots against the righteous And gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, For He sees his day is coming.

And

Psalm 2:2-4 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying "Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!"

He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.

So God has a sense of humour explicitly revealed in the Old Testament, but one that I don't think most people are going to appreciate.

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nice one here. this was going to be my answer –  tunmise fashipe Aug 26 '12 at 2:10

Here's a passage that indicates that God (specifically Jesus) made and sustains humor:

For by [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.—Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)


Perhaps this is a bit of morbid humor on Jesus' part:

And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”—Luke 22:35-38 (ESV)

I'd call this famous sentence a pun on two separate axes:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.—Matthew 16:18 (ESV)

Besides the obvious Petros <4074>/petra <4073> pun, I think renaming Simon to "The Rock" is pretty funny given his often mercurial passions. Actually, Peter's interactions with Jesus often turn out to be comedic even if He is playing the straight man.

Jesus loved exaggeration:

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.—Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV)

This is followed by the parable of the unforgiving servant, which is a tall tale if you know that 10,000 talents is an impossibly large sum. It's also a reference to Esther, which can be read as humorous. Jonah can also be read as satire and many of the provocative actions of the prophets are slapstick if you think about it. Remarkably, God is directing the action in these stories.

I don't know if one could say that the Jewish people invented jokes, but the Hebrew Scriptures certainly contain more than their fair share. (And rabbinic commentaries have no problem adding to the humor.)


But I think our best evidence that Jesus enjoyed a good joke once in a while comes from a story told by Luke and Matthew. After He reassured John that He was the expected Messiah, Jesus told the crowds:

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;  
  we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”—Luke 7:31-35 (ESV)

I don't think Jesus was joking in this passage, but He contrasts Himself with John, who doesn't seem like he was a lot of fun to be around. To me, it doesn't seem like Jesus would have been invited to very many parties if He didn't know how to have a good time with friends. And that strongly implies that He had a sense of humor.

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the number of times Jesus told the disciples to forgive one another is not a case of "exaggeration" - it's an example of multiple perfection, and that there is NO limit to our forgiveness because there is no limit to God's –  warren Mar 9 '12 at 13:38
    
Assuming that Jesus is God and the Bible is inspired in a sense that the Bible is the word of God, it makes sense that God would have a sense of humor. Assuming that Jesus is not God and the Bible is not inspired and is fallible, the answer would be unknown. At least we know that the authors may have a sense of humor and like to dabble in wordplays and puns! –  Anonymous Aug 19 '13 at 14:57

This doesn't totally answer the question, since it doesn't show God's humor, necessarily, but it does show a humorous situation.

Balaam's donkey:

Numbers 22:26-30 (NWT)
26 Jehovah’s angel now passed by again and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn aside to the right or the left. 27 When the ass got to see Jehovah’s angel she now lay down under Ba´laam; so that Ba´laam’s anger blazed, and he kept beating the ass with his staff. 28 Finally Jehovah opened the mouth of the ass and she said to Ba´laam: “What have I done to you so that you have beaten me these three times?” 29 At this Ba´laam said to the ass: “It is because you have dealt ruthlessly with me. If only there were a sword in my hand, for now I should have killed you!” 30 Then the she-ass said to Ba´laam: “Am I not your she-ass that you have ridden upon all your life long until this day? Have I ever been used to do to you this way?” To which he said: “No!” 31 And Jehovah proceeded to uncover Ba´laam’s eyes, so that he saw Jehovah’s angel stationed in the road with his drawn sword in his hand. At once he bowed low and prostrated himself on his face.

Just thinking about God's thought process there, I can see humor in it. ("Hey, let's make his donkey talk back to him after he beats it.")

What I think is funny about it is that Balaam doesn't appear shocked by this, but simply responds to the donkey as if it had been speaking all along.

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+1 I've always found this story amusing. This may have been the best way to teach Ba'laam a lesson, but I'm sure He knew that we'd find this humorous. –  tjameson Sep 28 '11 at 2:59

I read a while ago (I think it was in the NIV Study Bible, sorry, can't find an online reference) that the Ostrich in Job 39 is an example of humour. First the text, then the explanation.

Job 39:13-18

The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork.

She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them.

She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain,

for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense.

Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider.

Here we read a comical description of the ostrich: flapping her wings "joyfully" but without any common sense ("wisdom") - she does stupid things; and yet she herself laughs at horse and rider (presumably by outrunning them). This in itself makes a series of comical images.

But then the source stated that at all the other times in this passage God asks Job questions. However, for the Ostrich, God just states the situation. It's almost as if it is too funny for God to pause and ask a question!

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I had this question myself once, long ago. The only time in the Bible I could find God laughing, was scoffing at rebellious figures in the Psalms for their nonsensical disobedience (only twice, and which is not really what you are after).

In addition, I could find no article in the New Bible Dictionary from IVP on "humour", "funny", "fun", "laugh" etc. The NBD guys are usually pretty thorough, and don't shy away from using evidence from other sources (apocrypha, archaeology, other historical and extra biblical sources). So I would, and have, taken that to mean that there is not much at all in the way of biblical or extra-biblical evidence for God's sense of humour on display.

The question of a doctrinal stance: I would take God's apparent lack of outward personal expressions of humour, and use it to reconsider what God is intending in to do in the world and with the Bible. I feel like most Christians would agree that one of the big meta narratives of the Bible is God graciously building a people for himself despite the problem of sin in the world. It could be argued that, this lack of humour is totally aligned with a God who finds nothing funny about the state of the world, and is totally serious when it comes to relating to his people in a right relationship, etc. I know it's not a knock-down bullet-proof doctrinal stance, but maybe just a guess at an explanation - How could a God so holy and righteous, in a world where sin is still present, be humorous? It's not all business - it's deadly serious!

Hope this is helpful.

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An example of God's humor is the instance in which the Israelites were using the Ark of the Covenant like a good-luck charm in taking it to battle, and the Philistines ended up capturing it and placing it in their temple before their idol of Dagon. They came into the temple the next day and found Dagon flat on his face before the ark. They set him back up. The next morning, there he was again, but this time he had his hands and head cut off as a symbol of his powerlessness before the God of the ark (1 Samuel 5:1-5). God’s putting Dagon in a position of submission to His ark is a comical picture.

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Jesus was incredibly cheeky with the parables he told. Of course they make very serious points, but often Jesus stretched them further than he needs to to make those points. The Good Samaritan is a good example of this - the notion that a Samaritan should trump a priest and Levite in his goodness would have raised a chuckle or two I'm sure from an audience that was largely under the thumb of the last two.

Similarly in the Prodigal Son, the fact that he ended up tending pigs (a very unclean animal in Judaism) and sleeping in the sty with them before returning home pretty much stretches the story as far as it could go.

I think there are probably lots of other cultural references that would have been shocking or amusing at the time but are lost on us today.

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I don't see the account of having to tend pigs as humorous, actually. This guy's gone off to another land (presumably where the culture is different and they don't respect the Law of Moses) and now that he's fallen on hard times, he's forced to do whatever it takes to survive, no matter how disgusting. It's an indication of just how far he's fallen. It's not humor; it's a rather dark and gritty piece of realism. Also, remember that just about everything Jesus said was familiar to his audience. He didn't necessarily invent the stories he told in his parables. They might not even be fictional. –  Mason Wheeler Sep 23 '11 at 15:18
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I don't personally find it funny either, but I do think there are some who would - there is such a thing as "dark humour". –  Waggers Sep 26 '11 at 7:55

I am surprised that no one talked about Abraham and the birth of Isaac.

Genesis 17:15-17

Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai; Sarah will be her name. I will bless her and will give you a son through her. I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations. Kings of countries will come from her!” Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”

Then, as he laughed, God told him to call his son Isaac.

Genesis 17:19

God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac.

It seems that Isaac means "laughter". It is possible that as both Abraham and Sara laughed when God told them about how he were going to bless them with a son, as if he couldn't do this regarding of their oldness, he decided to give him this name:

Genesis 18:9-14

Then they asked him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” He replied, “There, in the tent.” One of them said, “I will surely return to you when the season comes round again, and your wife Sarah will have a son!” (Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, not far behind him. Abraham and Sarah were old and advancing in years; Sarah had long since passed menopause.) So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “After I am worn out will I have pleasure, especially when my husband is old too?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child when I am old?’ Is anything impossible for the Lord? I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.”

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It is an example of laughter but not of God's sense of humour. –  Wikis Mar 9 '12 at 11:57
    
I would say that it depends on what you are calling "sense of humour", but maybe you are right and this is completely off topic –  GianT971 Mar 9 '12 at 12:43
    
All through the OT there are puns made on names, names that God gave to people. Some may say that a pun is the lowest form of humor, but I think they are funny, and they come from God. –  thursdaysgeek Oct 10 '12 at 20:16
    
Just saw this answer after answering this old thread. Yes I agree. Giving Sarah a child in her old age could be considered funny! –  Matt Jul 17 at 23:25

One of the best instances of Jesus having a sense of humor is found in Luke 13:

Luke 13:31-32 The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

Jesus called Herod a fox in jest, simultaneously communicating to the Pharisees that He was not afraid, for no harm could befall Him until His work was accomplished.

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Not sure if he meant that to be laughed at. –  Dan the Man Aug 10 '13 at 4:26

Scripture says he made us, and that we are made in his image.

I don't really need to delve into any further scripture. We laugh, so he must too. He is the creator of us and of emotion.

I will point one other scripture here though.

Gen 18:15 "And Sarah said God hath made me to laugh so that all that hear will laugh with me".

Despite her age, God gave her a child. She laughed. It would seem that God does have a sense of humour and the answer to this question is a resounding YES.

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What a great question! And it has a simple answer:

Genesis 1:27 - Man is created in God's image - and man loves humor!


Humor is actually an intellectual gift humans have, and there are many types of humor.

God's mind is far superior to ours, so the sense of humor between the angels and even him no doubt differ in nature.

We don't often laugh at the jokes our children make, but we laugh at the things they do. I suspect its the same with our heavenly father.

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While I agree with you, I think that you can't really apply man's attributes to God. Just because we're made in his image does not mean that he behaves and thinks like us. For example, we have a propensity to sin whereas God does not. A related thought: While humor is a good thing and all good things come from God, we can't equally say that just because it came from God, God must share in that good thing. Sexuality is an example of that. In general, applying man's attributes to God is not a good, logical path. –  Richard Jul 21 at 12:55
    
Yeah I guess your right. Still a fun subject though. –  1Up Jul 24 at 20:43

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