...And so idolatry is not the way back to paradise, and neither is worldly success and neither even is biblical religion. All those ways are ridiculous. Here is the way back to paradise - it's the LORD Jesus Himself.And this is the very deepest irony of the bible - the very deepest irony of the universe. Jesus Himself is the way back to God.
Every other way to God assumes that humanity has to work salvation before a silent, watching, helpless god. And when you think that you tie yourself up in ridiculous knots and the bible laughs at you. But Jesus shockingly shifts our perspective. In Jesus it is God who works salvation before a silent, watching, helpless humanity. This is the ultimate shocking shift of perspective - we don't work our way to Him. He comes to us. It's not about us performing for Him. He performs FOR US. In our place. On our behalf. The LORD lives the life we should live. And then He dies the death we should die.
Jesus so enters into OUR predicament, He even takes on our suffering, our curse, our judgement, our death.
Think about the cross for a second. It is THE most serious thing ever and it is comedic. Thoroughly comedic.
There is Jesus, the Man who claimed to be God, nailed to a piece of wood. The Jewish authorities considered Him a blasphemer. The Romans executed Him as a common criminal. His friends and followers have abandoned Him. Even God His Father has abandoned Him on the cross. All is darkness as this Man in the prime of His life is cut off. And you know what His last words were? "I did it!" "I did it!" You could translate Jesus' last words as "Finished! Paid! Completed! Done!" Jesus' last words, dying a godforsaken death, were "I did it!"
What did He do? How does the cross accomplish anything? Friends, don't you get it? You can't climb into heaven to be with Him - and you only look ridiculous when you try. You don't climb up to heaven. He climbed down to be with you. He came and met us where we are - in the depths of darkness and wickedness and curse. So the LORD who cries out "I did it!" in the depths of our tragedy - He is the LORD who's done EVERYTHING to bring you into His presence. He's gone to hell and back to work your salvation. And He offers it to you right now - IN all your darkness. IN all your ridiculous idolatry, IN all your trying to make a success of yourself, IN all your attempts to be very religious. IN all your laughable stupidity and wilful evil - Jesus says "HERE, I've done it. I'VE done it." Will you stop your striving and receive it? Will you just get it? Don't you get it?
When Jesus rose three days later it was the ultimate shock, the ultimate Custard Pie in the face of humanity's greatest enemy. Death was dethroned. Which means Christians can now taunt death - where's your victory grave, where's your sting death? Jesus death swallowed up death.
It's the ultimate irony. Jesus wins us heaven, by going to hell. He kills death, by dying. He judges evil, by being judged. He gains victory through total surrender. He enters our tragedy - and through the most tragic event of all, brings a comedy. Isn't that ironic?! It's the deepest of all ironies. But when you get it, you'll have a shocking shift in perception. You'll see Jesus differently, yourself differently, life, death and eternity differently. It will be the most happy realization. It's what Christians call "faith", but really it just means getting the joke. Getting this central joke that unlocks all reality - How can Jesus the LORD die but in doing so shout out "I did it!"?
Do you get it? Do you get what Jesus did? If you don't get it, don't stop pestering every Christian you know until you get it. Don't stop coming to church, keep coming. Pick up a bible and read Jesus' life stories, pray that God would help you to get it. Because when you do, you'll rejoice, the angels in heaven will rejoice - there will be laughter all round when you get it.
If you don't get it - every laugh you'll ever have will ultimately be hollow.
You know my big problem with "The Life of Brian". It's not that it satirizes Christians - Jesus was a lot harsher to the religious of His own day. It's not even that it satirizes the Christian story - I don't expect non-Christians to reverence what we reverence. Here's my problem with "The Life of Brian" - the ending.
You see it's actually not a comedy - not in the classical sense. Actually, technically, the film is a tragedy. It ends with the hero crucified and there's no triumph, there's no "I did it!" - there's only failure and death in the end. And all they can do is whistle a wry little ditty as they choke to death on the cross. "Life is quite absurd and death's the final word." Now it's a fine film. A funny film. But in the end it's gallows humour. In the end, it's just a tragedy. The problem with the Life of Brian is not that it is a comedy. The problem is it's not a comedy. Without the victory of Jesus, without the resurrection of Jesus, the Life of Brian is just one more tragedy sprinkled with gallows humour. And if you don't get the Good News of Jesus, you may laugh, you may laugh loud - but you won't laugh long. If death's the final word then all your humour will be gallows humour. Only Christ can give you true comedy, joyful comedy, lasting comedy.
Comedy is serious. Christianity is comedic.