Does this sound like the punch line of a joke?
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” – John 21:22
It may not be a joke directly, but I still laughed aloud when I reread this verse this week. In fact, our Daily Devotional Team laughed quite a bit as we read this chapter in the book of John. We decided to point out the subtle humor in this chapter and acknowledge the value of humor in the scriptures.
The scriptures are masterfully written. The longer you spend studying them, the more nuanced, delighting, challenging, and even humor you notice in them. As you learn about ancient Jewish culture, figures of speech in Greek and Hebrew, and the various characters found in the text, you also begin to appreciate the depth of these texts.
I challenge you to make the scriptures a part of your lifelong study program. Thank God for giving us such a beautiful gift to begin to learn who he is and how humans are. With that said, I’ll point out a few funny observations we notice in John 21
The punch line of the text I quoted above is that Jesus keeps asking Peter to “Follow Me.” Then the text tells us that there is a disciple following Jesus even as he and Peter are trying to have a conversation. The moral of the story is that Peter should be doing what this disciple is modeling. The punch line is that John is the one both writing this text and offering himself as an example that Peter should follow. The humor is increased because John makes editorial notes throughout his gospel.
We also enjoyed John’s commentary that he noticed Jesus before all the other disciples. We appreciated John’s closing lines in the chapter. It is as if John’s hand is cramping, so he casually tells us that Jesus did and taught lots of things.
Again, these slightly comical observations are subtle, sometimes tertiary to the point of the passage, but they also bring us joy. It’s a blessing to have such masterfully crafted scriptures with life’s natural humor, and character quirks included. This is just an invitation to continue to learn and enjoy these texts.