The great twentieth century philosopher William Joel once said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” I must agree. And in so much as I understand the life Jesus lived, it was his preferred choice as well.
Based on my understanding of scripture, the Bible is very clear that joy and fellowship with God was the way human living was meant to be. Even a cursory glance at the creation story in Genesis reveals a relationship between Adam and God that was intimate and personable. Daily, the two of them walked the garden of Eden as Adam named the animals one by one. I can not help but wonder if Adam looked at God a time or two and pointed at critters like the duck-billed platypus or the naked mole rat and said, “Really?”
Adam’s relationship with God was only disrupted by the insertion of sin. This new element of Man’s humanity shattered the abundant life Adam shared with God, and immediately the fun and fellowship was gone.
By the time Jesus enters the human timeline, the friendship Adam shared with God was barely a mention in the documented history of the Jewish people. However, it was a history that Jesus had not forgotten, because he was there, in the garden he created and shared with Adam. Jesus undoubtedly remembered the quiet walks in the coolness of the garden with Adam and the joy, and quite likely even laughter the two of them shared.
It is not difficult to imagine such a close, intimate relationship because it is the same close, intimate relationship Jesus shared with those who followed him before his crucifixion. Jesus was not shy about inviting himself into people’s lives, which almost always led to a time of fellowship in someone's home. The place where they would fellowship would be at the table where there would almost always be food, wine, and deep conversation.
And these weren’t always poor humble commoners. Jesus often found himself in the homes of tax collectors like Levi (also called Matthew) and Zacchaeus who both, no doubt, had enough money to throw a good-sized party. We know this kind of fellowship was not uncommon for Jesus, because he earned the reputation of a drunkard and a winebibber. You don’t earn such a reputation if you’re not out having a good time.
Just like the relationship Adam shared with God in the Garden of Eden, so too was the relationship Jesus shared with his Father while he was here on earth. The intimate, personal fellowship Jesus shared with his followers is a picture of the way mankind was meant to live from the beginning of time, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors all fellowshipping in the presence of God.
This is a picture of the church for whom Jesus died so that those who believe in him would have an abundant, joyful, and never ending life. This life is the life God intended for all mankind from the beginning of time. It is a life filled with laughter, cutting up, carrying on and having fun in the Kingdom of God. It is a life we’ve forgotten because we are so caught up with living in this world. However, it is not a life Jesus has forgotten. It’s a life he wants for all of us, a life where we can laugh with the sinners, because he died for the saints.