Monday, July 25, 2016

Jesus' Smile

from: http://www.
When we visited Tokyo last month, we visited the Tokyo National Museum,  a special exhibit was “Smiling in Contemplation: Two Buddhas from Japan and Korea” (June 21-July 10). The exhibit commemorated the 50th anniversary of the normalization of relations between Japan and Korea. The two statues are national treasures of each county, and each depicted the Buddha in pensive though smiling contemplation. Like many statues of Shakyamuni Buddha or of bodhisattvas, the statues' quiet smiles taught the viewer something about peace and enlightenment. (See, for instance,

Did Jesus smile and laugh? We’ve only instances of Jesus’ laughter (and his smiling) in non-canonical writings like the Gospel of Philip and the Apocryphon of John. In such writings, his laughter and smiles are ironic and knowing.[1] Some paintings, like the famous Head of Christ by Warner Sallman, depicted Jesus as serene and smiling. But the many paintings and icons of Christ Pantocrator linger in mind---my mind, at least---that following Jesus is serious business; your eternal destiny is at stake! And one might argue that the suffering of Jesus for our salvation---the work of atonement---takes precedence over his happiness.

But that would be limiting; didn’t Jesus have a broad, full (though short) life filled with all the emotions we experience? Certainly Jesus loved, and one needs psychological security and depth to be able to love as he did. Joy and laughter, too, require a sense of security. Not only that, but Jesus wanted his followers to be filled with joy (John 15:11)----joy, not fear (repeat that several times).

So think of Jesus' as smiling, filled with love, wanting you to feel the relief of God's kindness.


1. Ricky Alan Mayotte, The Complete Jesus (South Royalton, VT: Steerforth Press, 1997), 149-150.

No comments:

Post a Comment