ISAAC

Is humor worldly and unchristian? The Preacher “said of laughter, It is mad; and of mirth, What doeth it?” There are not many jokes in the Bible. A merry heart may be good medicine, as psychosomatic therapists continue to assure us; but after a sober look at our human predicament we may turn to a double dose of drugs instead.

The sneers, snickers, giggles, guffaws, and belly laughs we hear about us are not reassuring. Laughter seems lewd, or mocking, or hollow—more hellish than heavenly. We hear echoes of the jeering on Golgotha. Shrill laughter, taut with fear and hatred, greeted the jokes at the foot of the Cross. They ridiculed the absurdity of this man who made himself equal with God, this crucified Messiah.

Yet they were the fools. In the irony of divine judgment their wicked jests preached the Gospel: “He saved others; himself he cannot save!” These rulers who set themselves against the Lord’s Anointed became the objects of the dreadful laughter of God’s derision. Satan became a laughingstock at Calvary, for his triumph there was his destruction.

Ever since that moment the foolishness of the Cross has been the power of God to salvation. Men still laugh at the Cross and scoff at “butcher shop theology,” but heaven’s laugh is last.

The irony of sin’s complete frustration, dark with God’s wrath, is not heaven’s greatest triumph over sinful folly. There is also the ineffable humor of grace; the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. Here is unimaginable absurdity; mighty angels are hilarious because old John Smith is crying. All of grace is like that—incongruous, unthinkable, amazing. The son of the promise is Isaac—laughter! Abraham laughed that he should be a father; Sarah laughed that she should bear a son—how ...

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