There’s just something about a smile…something compelling, something holy. I ran across a blog the other day that was posting some of the really ridiculous pictures of Jesus that have been a part of the Christian experience — like bare-chested, sad, skinny white guys. And every few years another film studio puts out another “life of Christ” movie. Regardless of the particular slant of the movie, controversial or creative, sacred or sarcastic, it seems like most films share a common portrait of Jesus. He’s solemn, serious, and even severe. His face has this “I’ve been sucking all day on a kosher dill pickle” look, and his eyes are so sad.
That’s not the portrait that Mark paints. At least occasionally Mark paints Jesus with a smile. I mean come on. Do you really think that Jesus could have attracted scores of disciples and drew great crowds — without a smile. Without joy. Without spirit, spunk, wit and wisdom. Without laughter. Do you really think Jesus would have been such a popular party guest with all the people who lived in the margins of society if he was a woe-begone sad sack?
When Jesus healed Jairus’ 12 year old daughter, don’t you think he smiled? At least a smile, right. Or more likely, this Jesus who loved children, picked her up by the arms and did a helicopter, before giving her a huge carpenter style bear-hug and then letting her down. When Jesus quieted the storm, don’t you suppose he gave it a little bit of drama?
When he started with 5 loaves and 2 fish, then fed enough people to fill the Bryce Jordan center, and ended up with 12 baskets of leftovers — wasn’t there at least a few in the crowd who let out a victory whooop and started dancing in a circle with their family? And when they did…don’t you suppose Jesus let out a few loud howls of laughter? When the disciples had collected 12 baskets of leftovers…do you suppose they sat them down at the feet of a stoic, unemotional Jesus? The farmers and fisherman of that day…lived day to day, hand to mouth. Wouldn’t the sight of such abundant food leave them gasping for delight? Is it that difficult to imagine a laughter-loving food fight among the disciples and Jesus? Isn’t laughter and joy the appropriate response to amazing grace?
And have you ever noticed how joyful… generous people are? Lately it’s been difficult to keep that picture out of my mind — Jesus with a smile.
Perhaps you need to hang that picture on the walls of your mind — Jesus with a smile. Perhaps that screaming preacher you heard is wrong, he doesn’t hate you. Perhaps when he looks at you.. He smiles. Perhaps when he thinks about all you could become… He smiles. Perhaps when he thinks about the grace he’s going to pour out on you… He smiles.
Jesus with a smile that eclipses my sin. Jesus with a smile that reminds me that he not only loves me, he likes me. Jesus with a smile that foretells grace.
Let me turn it a half-turn…back to us. Go learn to smile like Jesus. Jesus once said that if we want to get into the Kingdom of Heaven we have to become like little children — smiles look so natural on the face of a child. Let people see Jesus in your smile, in your joy, in your hopeful optimism. Jesus with a smile.