Jesus' Sense of Humor

By: Brian Robertson

"If they say to you, 'Look, the kingdom of heaven is in the sky' then the birds will get there before you. If they say 'It's in the sea' then the fishes will get there first! The kingdom of heaven is within you and outside you, spread across the land..."

-Jesus, Gospel of Thomas


Anyone who suspects Jesus didn't have a sense of humor should pay attention to this verse, attributed to him. And why wouldn't have said it? He's playing off a verse found in Deuteronomy 30:11 we find:

For this law that I enjoin on you today is not beyond your strength nor beyond your reach. It is not in heaven, so that you need to wonder, "Who will go up to heaven and bring it down to us, so that we may hear it and keep it?" Nor is it beyond the seas, so that you need to wonder, "Who will cross the seas for us and bring it back to us, so that we may hear and keep it?" No, the Word is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance.

How could it be any more clear? Jesus says that those who say the kingdom of heaven is in the sky - those who take the letter of the law and squeeze the life out of - will be sorely disappointed because the birds will get their first. Those who think it is in the sea, perhaps in some dark place where we must retreat in order to find it, are also sadly mistaken. The kingdom-consciousness is not measured in miles, but in heartbeats, for it's right there, inside.

Jesus' message goes unheard when people insist that the main part of Christianity is for one to be saved and then to wait until a future time when the Kingdom of Heaven is lowered down from the sky like theater scenery. Anyone can say, "Lord, Lord", that takes no effort or talent whatsoever. But for the Christian mystic, the kingdom unfolds within us and is made manifest by our love, by our actions.

There is a classic debate over whether good works or faith can save a person. It is not the love of knowledge that saves us, but rather the knowledge of love. With it we are saved, yes, saved from separation from God by our own egos and demands, but our lack of the ability to let go and let God -- this century's translation of "Thy will be done."

Try this -- find a quiet place within your own home where you won't be disturbed. Then sit, quietly, and allow yourself to simply be there a moment. Let concerns and frustrations and doubts become like the sound of water running over rocks -- you note them but let them flow on. As you breathe in, think "Let Go." As you breathe out, think "Let God."

Then, as you can, let even that grow silent. It doesn't mean you are passive, doing nothing. You are waiting -- waiting with expectation, with hopeful expectation for God's presence, God's love. When you find you're growing passive or thoughts arise, return to thinking "Let Go" and "Let God." Do you see? You are letting go of the day to day world, the thoughts and fears that bind you. Then, you are letting God's energies reach you, you are open to that loving presence.

When you feel those first stirrings, the mind may race .. calm it. The peace, the intermingling with God's energy, tells you that you don't have to go to a monastery in the desert, a mountain in India. You don't have to cross oceans or fly through the sky to get to your destination.

It's there. And when you experience that and arise from your chair or cushion, remember that the first person you see is Christ. The first person your concern touches is infused with that astonishing Presence in their heart, too. They may not see it. They will. For now, through grace, it's enough that you do.