The Laughable Gospel

BY DANIEL EMERY PRICE

“It’s funny because it’s true.” —Homer Simpson

The Bible is full of ridiculous stories. Laughable stories.

There, I said it.

A Red Sea parting, a giant fish swallowing a man, a talking donkey, and the list goes on and on.

It’s all a bit ridiculous.

And here’s the crazy thing, Jesus Himself says everything in those Scriptures is all about Him (John 5:39). All of these seemingly absurd stories are about Jesus and the Gospel he brings. The Apostle Paul even unashamedly calls the Gospel, “foolishness and folly” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

There are two instances in the Bible that quickly come to mind when I think about the grace and promises of God being laughable.

In Genesis 17–18, we read about how God promised to give Abraham and Sarah a child when they were nearly 100 years old. This child would be the beginning of the line that would bring about Jesus, who would take away the sins of the world.

So what did Abraham and Sarah do?

They laughed.

Abraham literally falls to the ground laughing.

This is good news. This is Gospel to them, and they are laughing at it. Laughing at the promise of God.

Did all that laughter stop God from keeping His promise? Did God get angry, pick up His promise and go home?

No—because God KNOWS it’s laughable.

Abraham and Sarah would have a son, and through that son, the Son of God would enter the world. And He too would say some pretty laughable things.

In the Gospel According to Matthew, a man comes to Jesus and tells Him his daughter has died. Jesus goes to the man’s house and finds a crowd mourning, and He tells them, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping” (Matthew 9:24).

What was the response to this good word from the mouth of God?

They laughed.

Did that laughter reverse the good news Jesus had just spoken?

Nope. He took the man’s daughter by the hand, and she rose from her bed.

Many times I have shared the good news that the God who created all things has made Himself one of us to save us all from death, hell, and ourselves. The Gospel of free forgiveness on account of God’s bloody death on a cross in our place. The liberating message that grace is big enough to cover everything you’ve done and everything you’ll do—no matter who you are. All because of this one God-sized promise to come through an old barren couple thousands of years ago. And more times than not, the response I get is a grin, a chuckle, or just straight up laughter. And why not? It’s laughable and ridiculous, and it’s true.

As Christians, we have hope that seems absurd. It’s what Paul calls “hoping against hope” (Romans 4:18). But he also says, “this hope will not put us to shame” (Romans 5:5). In other words, as foolish as this Gospel and this hope may seem, God will deliver on His promise. His preposterously wonderful promise.

There are times when I think about the Gospel and redemptive history throughout the Bible, and a smile spreads across my face. I hope one cracks your lips as well. It’s okay. Foolish and amazing grace put it there. This crazy message is the one we’ve been given to show a desperate world the laughable love of God.

So let’s go and get laughed at. As Robert Capon once said, “Why would I stop preaching the Gospel? It’s hilarious.”
 

As the son of a Pastor, Daniel Emery Price was raised in church and various kinds of Christian ministry in a small town in rural Arkansas. He began writing and performing music in his teen years and was heavily involved in worship ministry before moving to Seattle in his early twenties to pursue a career in music. He later moved to Phoenix and returned to leading worship and took a leadership position in youth/collegiate ministry, before moving back to Arkansas where he helped plant Trinity Church NWAin 2009, and he now serves as Pastor. Daniel lives in Northwest Arkansas with his wife Jessica and their daughter Anna. He is a regular guest on theological radio shows, podcasts, and is a conference speaker. Daniel is a Contributor to Christ Hold Fast and a co-host of the weekly podcasts, 40 Minutes in the Old Testament and 30 Minutes in the New Testament. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Scandalous Stories: A Sort of Commentary on Parables.

Twitter @DanielEmeryPrice