Apparently Christmas cracker jokes are bad for a reason. If they were genuinely funny some would laugh and some would not. Humour varies. They would in essence be divisive. Whereas bad jokes unite people in a chorus of groaning, wincing and knowing laughter
At the heart of Christmas there is a joke. The only people who find the baby are a bunch of dumb shepherds. The blonds of Jesus’s day. Folks would have cracked jokes about shepherds the way they joke about blonds now. ‘Never phone a shepherd when he’s doing the ironing,’ they would have said. ‘Three shepherds walked into a building, you’d have thought at least one of them would have seen it coming.’ Well, a bunch of shepherds rolled up to find a baby, and somehow, incredibly, they managed to find the right building. And they were the only ones. The butt of the joke. The story starts as it means to go on. Jesus is going to turn everything on its head. The rich the powerful, they will have to wait. Let the fools find Jesus first. Ahead of the wise and the pious. And I flinch as I type this – because I like to rank myself among the wise and the relatively rich.
We find the same principal at work at Easter. Surely the resurrected Jesus will appear to the people in power. Caiaphas. Pilate. Caesar. If he wants to make a big splash then it’s the obvious thing to do, prove yourself to the ruling elite and oppressive regime. The Sadducees and the Romans. But no. He’d rather appear to a bunch of women. Second class citizens (in that culture) who no one will believe. Not even those who had numbered themselves amongst Jesus’s mates. It’s all back to front. The picture is wrong. Appearing to women and shepherds will not prove much to the world. It may well appear naive. Surely Jesus isn’t going to rely on simple trust and the stories of ordinary people who can’t really prove their faith beyond all reasonable doubt in an age of technology and human achievement?