We don’t usually think of Easter as a funny event. However, the resurrection of Jesus is one of the truly ironic, and hence funny events in human history (J. R. R. Tolkien called it a Eucatastrophe).
The early church understood this well, most notably in the way Augustine described the cross as God’s mousetrap to catch Satan:
“The cross of the Lord was the devil’s mousetrap; the bait by which he was caught was the Lord’s death”
In light of this metaphor, the early Greek Orthodox church developed a custom where:
“On the day after Easter, clergy and laity would gather in the sanctuary to tell stories, jokes, and anecdotes. The reason given was that this was the most fitting way of celebrating the big joke that God had pulled on Satan in the resurrection. … In the early church, the ‘big joke’ was also expressed humorously by representing Jesus as the bait in the mousetrap with which Satan was caught.” (God Created Laughter, 25)
The theme of Christ as the bait to catch Satan is expressed in the painting below. The painting shows Joseph, who is a carpenter, and who has constructed a mouse trap symbolizing Christ’s trapping and defeat of the devil.
- Wow Moments: Eucatastrophe and The Humor of Christ by Elton Trueblood (joshchalmers.wordpress.com)
- Wow Moments – The Humor of Jesus (Henri Cormier) (joshchalmers.wordpress.com)