The Easter fool
This year, the most important event in the Christian calendar – the resurrection of Jesus – falls on 1st April
My father was a great one for practical jokes. He especially loved 1st April – April Fool’s Day. We children needed to be particularly vigilant that day, on alert for any potential ‘gotcha’ moments. I continued the tradition in my early years of radio news. One year we ran a news story over the morning of 1st April confirming that dolphins had indeed been used as spies for the Allies during WWII. The following year was even better…the AFL season was having to be delayed due to some kind of treatment the groundskeepers had used on the hallowed turf of the MCG, which had an adverse effect on players.
Does that make Christians April fools for believing what could be seen as the greatest con perpetuated on humanity?
In this era of fake news, April Fool’s Day has lost its street cred. When we are bombarded with lies and misinformation on a daily basis, a dedicated day (or half day really, as the joke was on you if you continued it past midday) which gives permission to make a fool of another, seems pretty lame.
This year the most important event in the Christian calendar – the resurrection of Jesus – happens to fall on 1st April. Does that make Christians April fools for believing what could be seen as the greatest con perpetuated on humanity?
That is not a new thought. The Apostle Paul repeatedly talked about foolishness in his first letter to the Corinthians: “For the message of the cross is foolishness …”; “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached …”; “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.” (1 Cor 1:18-25).
There is something fitting about Easter Day, the day we joyously proclaim “Christ is risen” falling on the day of fools. If you or I can, for a moment, step into the shoes of a person without faith, we can perhaps understand how many in our society are willing to discard the God of creation as a fairy tale – as it has many of its hallmarks.
A virgin birth, revealed to wise prophets who followed a star. A ruler threatened by a helpless human baby decrees that all boys under the age of two be killed. A local carpenter who grows up to be the Messiah, upsets the religious leadership and tells stories to make his point. He even feeds five thousand men (without counting the women and children also present) with five loaves and two fishes. I mean to say, this really is a morality tale of some kind surely!
Without the resurrection, this faith is delusional.
This son of God, Jesus, is celebrated with palm leaves and words of welcome and affirmation, only to have these same people turn upon him and seek his death by crucifixion a week later. The mob mentality worked then as it does now, the Roman leader succumbed, and Jesus was nailed to a cross.
Two devoted women go to the tomb two days after Jesus’ death only to find the stone rolled away revealing an open tomb. How is this possible? He speaks to them, not as a ghost, but as a flesh and blood human being with visible wounds.
Are Christians foolish? Have we been deluded through the centuries and the atheists have the last laugh?
Perhaps … but Paul named this foolishness as coming from God, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).
Without the resurrection, this faith is delusional. Jesus is not the Christ, he is just another person, who might have been wise and a great teacher and miracle worker, but no different to you and me. But the eternal hope of Easter is what sustains me each and every day … and if my non believing friends and colleagues think that I am foolish I can live with that, because I know deep in my soul that Christ is risen indeed.