"So Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab. Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road.
"Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck her again.
"Then the Angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff.
"Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?' And Balaam said to the donkey, 'Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!' So the donkey said to Balaam, 'Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?' " (Numbers 22:21-30, NKJV)
One of the funniest parts of this story is that Balaam shows no surprise that he is suddenly able to hold a conversation with a donkey! The Psalms tell us God is certainly able to laugh "But You, O Lord, shall laugh at them" (Psalm 59:8)
Jesus uses sarcasm
Early in his ministry Jesus called Philip to be one of his disciples. Philip then tells his friend Nathanael that he has found the person spoken about in the law and the prophets. Nathanael's sarcastic reply is:
"And Nathanael said to him, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth (where Jesus grew up)? '" (John 1:46)
Philip get his friend to travel with him to see Jesus. As Jesus sees Nathanael coming his says:
"'Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!'" (verse 47)
Jesus, of course, knew what Nathanael said about him (verse 48). The slight sarcasm comes from the fact that the father of the Israelites (and ancestor of Nathanael) was Jacob. Jacob's name means "full of guile" or "deceiver." With a touch of sarcasm Jesus is saying, "Well, I declare, we've found the first guile-less son of Jacob!"
Jesus uses irony
Near the city of Caesarea Philippi Jesus asks his disciples what do people say about him. After getting several responses he asks THEM who do they think he is. Peter then makes a bold reply that only God the Father could have inspired.
"He (Jesus) said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter (a rock) . . .'" (Matthew 16:15-18)
Just a short time after Peter is nicknamed the "rock" he attempts to correct Jesus! The response he got was swift.
"But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, SATAN! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men'" (Verse 23).
Peter's behavior was not exactly what you would expect from a "rock" of faith! Some time after this event it was Peter who, after Jesus' arrest, denied him three times after he boldly proclaimed that even if all the other disciples leave him he would not (Matthew 26:33, 35). Nevertheless, with God's help, he eventually did live up to the new name given to him by Jesus.
A playful challenge
Picture the setting for Jesus' quick conversation with a Syro-phoenician woman who interrupted his meal. Jesus blends ethnic insight and a playful challenge to this Gentile kneeling at his feet who asks him for something. The woman, instead of giving up after she was initially denied, responds with a wry answer that causes her request to be granted.
"For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him (Jesus), and she came and fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth (a Gentile or non-Israelite), and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
"But Jesus said to her, 'Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.'
"And she answered and said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.'
"Then He said to her, 'For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.'" (Mark 7:25-29)
Jesus must have smiled when he granted her request.
Good, clean humor celebrates the goodness of God. It is the key component to joy, one of the primary attributes of God's spirit within a person (Galatians 5:22-23). The Christian walk should be a joyful one. In closing, the apostle Paul told the church at Philippi what they could do to enhance their life as a believer.
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
We could also add "whatever things are humorous" to Paul's list.