Don’t Forget the Lyrics – Billy Joel Edition (and that time Jesus laughed with the sinners)


Are you ready to play?

Remember the TV game show “Don’t forget the Lyrics”? Contestants were given parts of a song, and they had to complete the rest of the lyrics. I loved that show and always thought I would like to be a contestant, that is until I actually tried remembering the words to the songs I thought I knew really well!  In this sermon intro post, we’re going to play a version of that game and see how much you can remember!

This is especially for those of you, like myself, who are children of the 70s and 80s and know more than your fair share of Billy Joel songs. So let’s see how much you know!  Answers will be at the bottom of the post. And no using the internet for help!!!

Here is our Level One song, the easiest because most people consider it Billy Joel’s signature classic.

“Sing us a song, you’re the piano man, ____________________________ .  Well we’re all in the mood for a melody, _______________________________ .”

Bonus Points: Name the song and the year it was released!

How did you do?  Easy one, huh?

Well, let’s fast-forward a few years and move on to Level Two! This is another one of Billy Joel’s greatest hits.  See if you can fill in the lyrics:

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners, ___________________________; sinners are much more fun. ___________________________ .”

Bonus Points: Again, name the song and the year it was released!

That might have been a little tougher, but Level Three gets intense.  Here’s a clue: I loved hearing this song as a teenager riding the bus to school because the song challenged me to figure out what in the world he was saying, as the lyrics assaulted you rapid-fire. See how you do:

“Begin, Reagan, Palestine,” ______________________.  “Ayatollah’s in Iran,” _____________________ .”

Bonus Points: Song name and year?

Now it’s time to tally up your points!  Give yourself two points for each of the lyrics blanks you got correct, one point for each song name and three points for each year of release!  How did you do?  I’d love to hear.

Billy Joel has a ton of famous songs. Allentown, Pressure, Uptown Girl, so many great ones!  But it is the Level Two song above that relates to the story about Jesus that we are going to look at on Sunday.

Did you get those lines? I often thought about Jesus when I heard these lyrics. Here they are again: “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, sinners are much more fun.”

Before we go too far, you might be thinking “Joel, I know that song, and I know those lyrics, and I always thought they were sacrilegious! Isn’t Billy Joel communicating an attitude that is opposite of Jesus?  Why did you think about Jesus when you heard these lyrics?”

If you’re thinking that, good question. I hear you. When I first heard the song, the catchy tune made me like the song, but as a follower of Jesus, the lyrics made me squirm. He’d rather laugh with the sinners?  Mostly I thought of Jesus as a good guy who died young.  But take a deeper look.  Yeah, Billy Joel is saying that a partying life, a reckless life, is what he would prefer. And furthermore he is saying that church people, these saints, are too serious and sad. Live it up, he’s saying. Party! Laugh, have fun! You might even live longer if you loosen up.

In response to that, we would be right to warn people about too much partying and to stop a sinful lifestyle. Of course, as disciples of Jesus, we are people called to holiness following the way of Jesus.

So why do I bring this up? Well, we’re about to hear a passage where Jesus laughs it up big-time with the sinners. And the crying saints are the party-poopers standing on the outside fussing about it.

Want to see what I mean?  Get ready for tomorrow by reading Luke 5:27-39.  Jesus just might surprise you.


Level One:  Piano Man, 1973

“Sing us a song, you’re the piano man, (Sing us a song tonight) Well we’re all in the mood for a melody (And you’ve got us feeling alright.)”

Level Two: Only the Good Die Young, 1977

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners (than cry with the saints), sinners are much more fun. (Only the good die young.)”

Level Three: We Didn’t Start The Fire, 1989

“Begin, Reagan, Palestine, (terror on the airlines.) Ayatollah’s in Iran, (Russians in Afghanistan.)”

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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