Easter Fool’s Day
The Resurrection of Our Lord
April 1, 2018
Is it ironic that April Fool’s Day is today or is it perfect timing? For centuries people around the world have kept up the custom of setting aside a day to play practical jokes on others. People love to prey on the gullibility of others. And people will fall for all sorts of things that aren’t true or nonsensical.
Which brings us to today, the day Christians celebrate as Easter. Many people would say that this is the perfect day for us to celebrate Easter as it is the height of foolishness to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
But we’ll get back to that.
What first must have seemed not something so light as an April Fool’s joke but rather a cruel twist of their hopes and dreams, was what some of the people felt who were witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday. Some of those who saw Jesus being crucified were there just to see the show. The Roman Empire commonly crucified criminals. Some of those there were celebrating. The religious leaders finally achieved their goal of getting rid of Jesus. They jeered Him. Some of the people there joined in.
But the followers of Jesus who were there were devastated. They had been with Jesus in His ministry. They had helped Him in His temporal needs. They had put their hope in Him.
And now He was hanging on a cross and was about to die. He would no longer be with them. He would no longer be the Savior they had thought He would be. They watched Him die along with their hopes. They despaired that their Lord was being taken away from them in such a cruel and unjust way.
Some of the women stayed to see Him taken down from the cross. They went to the tomb where He was buried. They wanted to provide a proper burial but it was close to the beginning of the Sabbath day, which would begin soon, at sundown. There was no time to buy burial perfumes so they went home in shock and sadness. As we hear in the Gospel reading for today, the next day after the Sabbath was over, they bought their perfumes and early in the morning on Sunday they went to the tomb to give Jesus a proper burial.
While they were going they realized that the huge stone was still covering the entrance of the tomb. Who would roll it away for them? But when they got there they saw that it had already been rolled away. This was their first surprise. The second one caught them off guard and even frightened them. A heavenly visitor was inside the tomb. The angel spoke to them in the way that angels often do when they appear to people. He told the women to not be afraid.
And here is where we see that either this is the greatest April Fool’s joke ever, or what the angel said was true. And if true, it was the single-most important event that ever took place. What did the angel say to the woman at the tomb? You are seeking Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. To those who like the woman and all of Jesus’ other followers who put our trust in Him, His death is actually the accomplishing of salvation.
This is proclaimed by the apostle Paul in First Corinthians when he says, We preach Christ crucified. When he says in our Epistle reading today that Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed, he is pointing to the one person in all of history whose death actually defeats death. Because His death was the sacrifice for everyone and all of our sin.
To the world this is one big April Fool’s joke. How could a human being be God? How can someone rise from the dead? We can’t prove that Jesus is God. But the angel at the tomb did not set out to prove to the women that the one they were looking for was God. He simply said, “He has been raised. He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.”
That’s it. That’s what we are given. The one who was crucified has now been raised. If that makes us Easter fools then at least we are going by the word of the angel rather than the word of human beings.
Many people would like proof that Jesus rose from the dead. Only then would they believe. But everyone holds to something. Whether you maintain you die and that’s it or you believe in a religion other than Christianity, that is what you hold to. Eventually you will find out the truth of what you hold to.
When Paul said that we preach Christ crucified he also said that that is foolishness to the world. So Easter Fool’s Day might not be the worst name for this day we celebrate as Christians. Despite what the world thinks, the Resurrection of Our Lord is the celebration of the victory over death.
The angel said to the women that the Jesus they sought who had been crucified was no longer in His grave because He was now alive. He told the women to go tell Jesus’ disciples that He would go before them to Galilee and they would see Him there, just as He said.
The angel doesn’t need to prove anything to them. He doesn’t need to say anything to them that he thinks might convince them. He tells them what Jesus had already said. Jesus had already declared in His ministry that He would suffer and die and rise. But they didn’t believe Him. They were distraught when it came about that He suffered and died.
But Jesus doesn’t give up on those who gave up on Him. He came back alive to bring to them the forgiveness He won on the cross. He rose so that we do not have to fear death. So that we can know that there is in fact something after death. And that is eternal life.
Eternal life is without sorrow or pain or sin or death. Christ brings you into this eternal life in Baptism. He unites you to His death and resurrection through your Baptism, as it says in Romans 6.
If the world considers you a fool for believing in Jesus, then you are in good company. Because those who doubted Him after He died believed all the more after He rose. And they proclaimed Christ and Him crucified. They proclaimed Jesus who was raised from the dead. He is proclaimed still. And He forgives still, just as He said. Amen.