The Day of Greatest Joy
Over the last 304 years, Easter Sunday has fallen on April 1 eleven times: 1714, 1725, 1736, 1804, 1866, 1877, 1888, 1923, 1934, 1945, and 1956. Now, in 2018, the world experiences again the conjunction of Easter and April Fools’ Day.
For those who follow Jesus, who name him as their Savior and Lord, Easter is the day of greatest joy. It is the jubilant celebration of God’s triumph over death, the raising of Jesus from death to life, and the great promise that those who trust in Jesus will experience the same.
For many others, Easter is the day that most clearly exposes the foolishness of Christians. How appropriate, they might say, when Easter falls on April Fools’ Day, because Easter seems to them like such a cruel prank – encouraging people to believe in the resurrection of the dead.
What can we say to this?
First, let’s admit that the resurrection of the dead is an enormous claim. It requires a belief that transcends the rational world that our senses ordinarily apprehend. In loving patience for those who do not believe, let us concede how astonishing the resurrection is. The hobbit Sam Gamgee wonderfully expresses this astonishment to Gandalf: “Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”
Second, let’s admit what is at stake. If they are right that there is no resurrection, then we are pathetic, even fools. The Apostle Paul freely admits this: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19, NIV).
Third, let’s admit that we do embrace foolishness, but it is the foolishness of God about which the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Here is our Easter faith. Inspired by the Holy Spirit:
- We believe that Jesus has overcome sin by taking the sin of the world upon himself.
- We believe that Jesus has defeated death by dying.
- We believe that Jesus was buried, and that on the third day God raised him in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4).
- We believe what the prophet Isaiah testifies of God: “Behold, I am doing a newthing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).
Lord, in your mercy, give sight to all who do not perceive. Lead us all to embrace humbly and joyfully the foolishness of God.
by David Lenz