Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth (Matthew 9:24).

The majestic calm of these words is pregnant with the coming laughter of God. Spoken to an unsympathetic crowd wallowing in gloom, the Master’s words sound as though he is deliberately exposing himself to ridicule. Actually they are carefully chosen by One who, knowing the end from the beginning, is preparing the way for his enemies to see that the joke is really on them. The story contains in dramatic form the Advent truth of Psalm 2: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” at his enemies’ puny efforts to wreck his advancing Kingdom. History will culminate in God’s turning the wrath of man to His praise.

From the record of Scripture, Christ is never known to have laughed aloud, but a great deal that he did and said is imbued with transposed laughter as he deals in his unique saving way with the inadequacies of his friends and the enmity of his adversaries. Thus he helps a sorrowing father and afflicted woman to an experience of salvation beyond all expectation, and enables unbelieving crowds to see the reversal of “normal,” “incurable” evils. He tackles the forces that oppose him derisively by conquering them redemptively. So he presages the fulfillment of the Psalmist’s preview of God’s laughing best because he laughs last.

The story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter with its parenthetic story of the woman in the crowd adumbrates aspects of the divine laughter in the course and at the conclusion of history. The parenthesis illustrates the hidden divine laughter in the overruling of adverse circumstances—delay, and the inadequacies of the human equation—so that they serve the purposes of His Kingdom. The main story, the raising of the dead girl, illustrates ...

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