It’s the Way You Tell ’em

How d’you make Lady Gaga cry?
Poke her face.

A man goes to the doctor and says, ‘I feel like Tom Jones.’
Doctor: ‘It’s not unusual.’

How does Bob Marley like his doughnuts?
Wi’ jam in.

Now you may or may not get some of the above jokes, that could well depend on your cultural experience. And your age! I have often been involved in discussions about why the Bible does not have more humour. The simple answer is – it does. There are loads of funny comments. But like the jokes above, they rely on experience and culture.

For example, one day Jesus said to a bunch of folks, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.’ And his audience may well have laughed. It’s a coded message in all kinds of ways, but the humour is tied up with the references to Herod and the Romans. Herod’s nickname was The Fox and the Romans were often known as eagles, vultures or ‘birds of the air’. And both were disliked. So any chance to laugh at their expense was welcome. So Jesus using these nicknames in public would be a little like hearing the Queen refer to Mrs Beckham as Posh Spice, or Paul Gascoine as Gazza in her Christmas speech, and it would be all the more humorous for being unexpected.

Herod has his whacking great palace, with all the trimmings, and the Romans have their armour and horses, weaponry and garrisons. The son of man – another coded reference – does not have these things. He may be a powerful leader but he does not appear that way. The ‘son of man’ is a reference to some verses in the book of Daniel (chapter 7 verses 13 & 14),  describing a figure of justice who will come from heaven to settle matters. The folks would have known that well – they were looking, waiting, praying desperately for this son of man to turn up and oust The Fox and the birds of the air. So when Jesus uses these terms there would have been laughter and knowing looks. And perhaps some of the crowd would have made the connection and started to see Jesus as this mysterious son of man.

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