Laughter is the result of living in the midst 10941181_sof God’s great works . . . The joy comes because God knows how to wipe away tears, and, in his resurrection work, create the smile of new life.  Joy is what God gives, not what we work up. Laughter is the delight that things are working together for good to those who love God . . . (Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, 100.)

Imagine a scene in the new heavens and the new earth. Jesus is chatting with some of His disciples, drinking the best cappuccino in heaven and earth.

Disciple 1: “And did you remember the time you asked us to row over to the other side of the lake?” (Luke 8:22-25)
Disciple 2:”Yea and that terrible storm came? We thought we were going to die!”
(Some laughter.)
Disciple 1: “And you were deep in sleep at one end of the boat. How did you do that? The boat was heaving so badly!”
Disciple 3: “And when we thought we were going to die, we woke you up, well, basically to tell you that we were going to die.”
Disciple 1: “Boy didn’t we feel stupid when you got up and scolded the storm.”
Disciple 3: “And it stopped. Yea, we really felt stupid.”
Disciple 2: “And a little bit scared. We weren’t quite clear then that you were . . . God.”
(Lot of joyful laughter.)

I think there will be many such scenes in heaven. And I think the loudest laughter will come from Cleopas and his Emmaus Road friend (his wife?) when they recount their encounter with Jesus after His resurrection (Luke 24:13-21a NET).

Now that very day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. While they were talking and debating these things, Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them (but their eyes were kept from recognizing him). Then he said to them, “What are these matters you are discussing so intently as you walk along?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have happened there in these days?” He said to them, “What things?” “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied, “a man who, with his powerful deeds and words, proved to be a prophet before God and all the people; and how our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.

This must be one of the funniest passages in Scripture. Cleopas and his companion were very sad and disturbed. They thought that the Messiah had let them down. They had placed their hope in Jesus, believing that He was the Messiah. But instead of redeeming Israel, Jesus couldn’t even redeem Himself, or so they thought. Jesus had been captured, tortured, and killed. And now the two disciples had lost even their hope.

The reader of the passage should be ROFL (rolling on floor laughing). The Jesus whom the disciples thought had died was the one walking with them. But the two disciples didn’t recognise Him. They didn’t have the full picture.

Imagine Jesus sharing a conversation with Cleopas and the other disciple over the best cappuccino in heaven and earth.

Cleopas: “We thought you had died. I mean no one comes back from the dead do they?”
Other disciple: “But it was really a bad time for us. We were both sad and angry and who knows what, at the same time.”
Cleopas: “We were sad because nobody should die the way you did.”
Other disciple: “And you were innocent!”
Cleopas: “We were also sad because our hopes had been crushed. And we were angry that our religious leaders had betrayed you.”
Other disciple: “And I guess we were also angry with you because we thought you had let us down. We thought you had deserted us.”
Cleopas: “And all the time you were walking with us!”
Other disciple: “Yea and nobody on heaven and earth will ever let us forget that we were the ‘blur’ (local slang: confused) ones who complained about Jesus’ failure to Jesus Himself!”
(Loud joyful laughter.)

I suspect there will be many such scenes in heaven. I am sure I will be personally involved in many of them. Sitting down with Jesus with the best cappuccino in heaven and earth, we will look back at my life, at the moments when I was angry, or sad, or in despair, thinking, if only to myself, that God had failed me or that He had deserted me, and now with heavenly hindsight, realising He was with me all the time (Romans 8:38-39) and that he was working our His purposes for good even though I did not know it then (Romans 8:28). There will be a lot of laughter in heaven.

The Bible tells us that “When the Lord restored the well-being of Zion, we thought we were dreaming. At that time we laughed loudly and shouted for joy (Psalm 126:1-2a NET)” and that “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh (Luke 6:21b NET).”

We live in a broken world were there is much pain. But we are promised that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love, and that He works all things out for good. This may not always be evident. But one day it will be. There will be much laughter in heaven. And maybe, in knowing that, we can begin to laugh now, as we journey though this vale of tears.