Several years ago, I read a story in the Bible that cracked me up. I literally started laughing out loud.

I’d read it before, but one of the delightful things about the Bible (and many other stories) is that you see new things every time you read. You have more life experience and knowledge than the last time you read the story, which gives you fresh eyes on passages you may have read many times before.

For me, one of the things that has changed over the years is that I’ve developed a more robust sense of humor. I’ve always been a bit of a melancholy personality type, and like so many of us do, I projected my personality onto Jesus’ personality. I mean, the Bible never actually tells us that he laughed, so I just always thought of him as a very somber man. Honestly, I had a very two-dimensional view of him. With my deepened sense of humor, I was able to read this story with more depth.

Stories are glorious in that they tell us things between the lines. They aren’t always completely straightforward. And as I read this story, the text between the lines became much clearer. Jesus had a very strong playful streak!

So – what was the story that had me chuckling?

If you’re familiar with the Bible, you know it as The Road to Emmaus. You can find it in Luke 24.

It’s the day that Jesus rose from the dead, but almost no one has actually seen him yet. They’ve just heard tale of an angelic announcement: life returned to someone they loved after a grisly and horrifying death. What?? They can’t believe it, naturally.

As the story goes, a couple of guys who followed Jesus were walking from Jerusalem to a nearby village, Emmaus. They’re grieving, re-hashing all the awful pain of watching their leader be betrayed, unjustly accused, tortured, and crucified. Not only have they lost a friend and leader, they have lost a shining hope of redemption from oppression. And they’re puzzling over what to do with this strange story some of their friends told them, a story that Jesus has come back to life.

As they’re walking and talking, Jesus “came up and walked along with them.” My paraphrase is as follows:

“Hey guys, what’s up? What are y’all talking about?”

This is hilarious to me on several fronts. First, “they were kept from recognizing him.” So to them, this total stranger walks up and butts into their conversation. They seem to have no problem with that. In fact, they’re amazed that he doesn’t know the big news in Jerusalem. “Dude. Are you that out of the loop?? Everybody is talking about the things that just happened.”

Secondly, Jesus knows exactly what they’re talking about! He’s JESUS. His question is obviously asked with a rather mischievous twinkle in his eye.

“Oh? What things?” {More twinkle, I imagine. The face of innocence so that these friends can share their burden with him – an unnecessary burden indeed.}

Thirdly, Jesus just CONQUERED DEATH, SIN, THE FALL, AND THE CURSE. Seeing as how he’s still fully man (in addition to being fully God), I would imagine that he’s feeling pre.tty. good! Euphoric!! On top of the world!! He has freed the people he loves!

So. His companions give him a summary statement of who he himself is – well, their interpretation of who he is – and of what has happened over the last three days.

And his response is… “You guys don’t understand the half of it!” And then he, the stranger who doesn’t know what’s going on, outlines for them exactly who he is – and what has really happened over the last three days. And he does it from their own Scriptures, the very lifeblood of a devout Jew.

(By the way, I hope you picked up that he uses the Old Testament to “explain to them all the things concerning himself.” If you want to understand Jesus, read the Old Testament. If you want to fully understand the Old Testament, look to Jesus.)

So he’s telling them all these things as they walk along, and they are completely fascinated. And then they get to their destination, and “he acts like he’s going farther” (says the ESV).

Hahahahaha!!!! This cracks me up! He pretends he’s going somewhere else! I mean, his whole point in joining them on the road is to be with them (these precious people he just died for!), enjoy them, and reveal himself to them – first from the Scriptures, then in front of their very eyes.

(Another BTW – I really appreciate that Jesus chose to do this with a couple of otherwise anonymous disciples. Not two of the apostles, not two of the women the Gospels name multiple times, but just a couple of “normal” Christians.)

The actual conversation is left to our imaginations, but the scenario in my mind is hilarious.

The socially appropriate thing for these men to do is to invite him, this knowledgeable stranger they met on the road, to spend the night wherever they’re staying. Their culture has a strong code of hospitality. And the socially appropriate thing for him to do is defer for a moment, but eventually assent. This is the way I believe the conversation would have gone…

Jesus: “And then the prophet Malachi ends by saying the great day of the Lord is coming, the day of redemption. And it has in fact arrived! Oh, are we at your house? Well, it’s been nice chatting with you guys. I’ll head on from here.”

Cleopas (for the sake of naming one of them): “Oh no, no! You must come in and stay with us tonight! It’s getting dark, and it’s not safe for you to be traveling by yourself at night.”

J: “Oh no, I must keep going. I’ll be ok.”

C: “No, no, we insist! Have dinner with us and a good night’s sleep, and then you’ll be refreshed for the rest of your journey tomorrow. We won’t take no for an answer!”

J: “Well, ok. If you insist. Thank you.”

OK, that’s all conjecture, but that’s what imagination is for! So Jesus goes into the house with them, and they’re sitting down to supper, and “he took the bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to them” (the same words used to describe his actions at the Last Supper).

And with this very regular, mundane action, imbued with great symbolism as of a few days before this, their eyes are opened. They recognize him… and he vanishes. Poof!

I have to think he grinned before he disappeared.

Twinkle in the eye. That Jesus. He’s got a pretty funny sense of humor.