There is a verse in Proverbs that has always stuck out to me when friends played jokes and pranked each other. Every year on April 1st it is almost always a guarantee that somebody’s feelings are going to get hurt somehow at sometime during that day. As I watched the mayhem that followed as friends tried to smooth over hurt feelings, Proverbs 26:18-19 would come to mind.
Proverbs 26:18-19 (NIV) Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”
I have heard it being taught from pulpits that Jesus was a fun guy. They even go so far as to say that Jesus was just one of they guys and must have played pranks on his disciples.
That is a fun picture of Jesus and it even helps sell Jesus like the “My Homeboy” t-shirts. It also helps make the idea of Jesus as Judge a little more tolerable. We can always say to Him in the court of Heaven, “Oh that sin, it wasn’t really sin. I was just joking around, I didn’t mean anything serious!”
But the image of Jesus a jokester, as a man who ‘deceives his neighbor and says ‘I was only joking,’ is not true of his nature, and it was not how Jesus acted towards his disciples in Scripture. To say that Jesus acted in such a way is to malign his character and goes against what is written in the Bible.
Hebrews 6:18 (NIV) God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO LIE, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.
Titus 1:2 (NIV) a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which GOD, WHO DOES NOT LIE, promised before the beginning of time,
The truth is that teaching that Jesus is a prankster is a false teaching about who God is. It causes one to ask the question, “Can I trust a God that may be pulling a prank on me?” It lowers a perfect Creator to the level of a sinful and imperfect false god from Olympus.
Matthew 24:24 (NIV) For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect- if that were possible.
It is not the nature of the Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit to deceive or pull pranks for his amusement. Hebrews says it is ‘impossible for God to lie.’ To lie is the nature of the “False Christ,” or to say more clearly, the Anti-Christ. To say Jesus did lie, even just as a fun prank, is to attribute the character traits of Satan to Jesus.
John 8:44 (NIV) You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Was Jesus fun to be around? I would say yes. It was a joy to be in His presence, but He never lied or deceived anyone, even just as a joke.
Did his disciples prank each other? The Bible is silent on that account, but the Bible is very clear that Jesus never deceived anyone as a joke.
So what can we take from the real “prankless” Jesus? How about love your neighbor just as you want to be loved. So I would say, bless you neighbor, friends, and family and don’t prank them. Blessing them may just freak them out even more than the best April Fools prank, and then you may be a little more like Jesus.