Investigating the Bible: Scriptures abound with moments of joy, humor



Some may think it sacrilegious to suggest the Bible could include humor. It deals in serious matters of eternal life and death. Comedy in our culture is often frivolous and vulgar. However, the Bible honestly portrays humans who sometimes were witty. We miss the funny moments because ancient stories are familiar and from the Bible’s lean writing style — no descriptions of laughing crowds. Here are some examples:

Elijah was a mighty prophet of God. He challenged the priests of the pagan god Baal to a contest: Sacrifice a bull, put it on a wood, and call upon your god to light the fire. So the priests did that, crying out in the morning to their god and throughout the day. “At noon Elijah began mocking them. ‘You’ll have to shout louder than that,’ he scoffed, ‘to catch the attention of your god! Perhaps he is… out sitting on a toilet, or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be awakened.’” (1 Kings 18:27, The Living Bible). They never succeeded. Finally Elijah prayed and his altar, even after being drenched with water three times, was consumed in a blaze of fire from God!

Parents brought children to Jesus so he could bless them. For the practical disciples, this was a wasteful distraction. “But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14, English Standard Version, used in the following). The innocence of children delights us. A seven year old boy was in a church service with his parents and asked about a white flag on the podium. It was embroidered with golden stars. His father whispered, “That’s a reminder of all those who have died in the service. The youngster thought a moment and asked in a loud whisper, “Daddy, did they die in the 9 or the 11 o’clock service?”

It was chaotic when the followers of Jesus were first filled with the Holy Spirit. They all began speaking simultaneously in the languages of different nations. Men witnessing this mocked and said they were filled with wine. Peter, who assuredly never got drunk in church meetings, used sly humor, saying “…these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour the day (9 a.m.).” (Acts 2:15).

While wearing shackles, the apostle Paul made an eloquent appeal for the gospel to the Roman king Agrippa, who indicated he was almost convinced to become a Christian. Paul then made a joke: “…I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am — except for these chains.” (Acts 26:29).

Joy is at the top of a spectrum of humor. Laughter and tears mix at the unveiling of wonderful news, like when tests show cancer is gone or a missing child is found safe. The Bible abounds in joyful stories. Adam and Eve lived in happy bliss in the garden of Eden. The angels declared “joy to the world” at the birth of Jesus. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, Peter and John healed a man lame from birth. Happily leaping up, “…he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them walking and leaping and praising God.” (Acts 3:8). The book of Revelation tells us that ultimately “(God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, ESV).

C.S. Lewis converted to Christianity at age 31. He titled the memoir of his struggle with God, “Surprised by Joy.” This is what Jesus desired for all: “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11).

David Carlson Pastor (yes, that is his last name but not his profession) is an Oregon, Polk County resident and graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary.



1. “Frivolous and Vulgar”: “Judgment is mine, sayeth the Lord.”
2. The story (above) about Elijah is allegory. It’s two boys playing the neener-neener game - my religion (Christianity) is better than yours (Mithra, bull worship).
3. People who speak in tongues is humor? There was a great awakening in the late 1950s, including in the U.S., and there’s one going on now, not in the U.S. This is a real phenom and nothing to joke about.
4. Paul in shackels … the existence of Paul is in question lately. Consider: Paul and Josephus lived in Rome at the same time, yet Josephus never mentions Paul once in his multi-volume set History of the Jews, even though Paul was “known throughout the land”. Perhaps because forgeries were so common then and because desperate people needed hope that Paul was invented? We’ll never know the truth. However, 13 letters are attributed to Paul in the NT. Out of the 13, 95% of all scholars agree he absolutely did not write 3 of them; 65% of all scholars agree he most likely did not write another 3; some believe he did not write another one. That leaves 6 or 7 letters that he may have written, if they weren’t forgeries.
5. Adam and Eve are allegories.
6. Angels singing joy to the world is someone’s embellishment; someone got carried away with the idea of a savior come to Earth to save the Jews.
7. Peter and Paul did not heal the man; it was quantum physics pure and simple. Why do you think Jesus (allegedly) said that things He did and more we can do? He also said to follow Him; so where are your and your parishioners’ healings? Gandhi said, “I never met a Christian.” Hmmm…..
8. You are wearysome in your ignorance!

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