If you are like me, you will have at least one fond memory of tricking someone on April Fools’ Day. I cringe at my greatest ‘success’, but also have a gleeful smile. I am annually frustrated that the trickery only lasts until midday. All Fools’ Day goes back centuries and is commemorated all over the world.
Famously, in 1957, the BBC Panorama programme showed a Swiss farmer picking freshly grown spaghetti from trees, fooling thousands of its viewers. More than sixty years later, as Easter Sunday and April Fools’ Day coincide, it would be a tragic trick to imagine that Easter Sunday is merely about chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies.
To catch someone out with an April Fool is fun. But to be tricked is humbling. Nobody wants to be fooled, or even worse, be called foolish. Who wants to be belittled?
So it seems startling to read that Jesus, whose words and actions oozed love, should call two people with whom he was talking, ‘Foolish ones…’ (Luke 24:25). Jesus had previously warned against calling anyone a fool, so he must have been very serious in saying this. It’s not that this couple had been tricked, but simply that they were bewildered by reports that Jesus, who they knew had been crucified and buried, was risen from the dead. How could it be, they wondered, that Jesus could come alive after it was clear he was dead.
Jesus’ resurrection was not an invented fairy tale, nor a conjuring trick or mass hoax. Neither were the several hundreds of people who saw Jesus alive, after his death and burial, deluded. The foolishness was on behalf of those who knew the evidence that Jesus had risen, but refused to believe.
At the age of thirty, Jesus began his public work of miraculous healing and teaching. Thousands hung on his every word. He repeatedly said that he would be crucified, die, and three days later rise again. He had even likened people who hear him but don’t do what he was saying, to a foolish person building a house on sand. When storms come, the house will collapse.
It was when Jesus made it clear that he was God come to the world, and when people saw that he lived a sinless life, having powers that no mere mortal would have, some religious people hated him. They plotted to have him crucified, little realising that he had been born to die. It was while suffering on the cross that he carried on himself the sin of the world. He endured the penalty for our rebellion against God. Only when he had fully paid for all our wrong did Jesus die.
A real resurrection
But three days later, on that first Easter Sunday, Jesus burst out of death and the grave, showing, by many infallible proofs, that he was alive. He walked and talked with a couple who found this too difficult to believe. It was at this point Jesus said, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’
Jesus certainly didn’t want this couple to remain foolish. He explained that the Bible is all about him, and that his death and resurrection are God’s way to bring people back to himself. Sin can be forgiven and guilt removed because Jesus has died in our place. God can change a life because Jesus has risen. They were overwhelmed with their encounter with Jesus and ran to tell their friends about it.
A wise decision
Perhaps you have been April fooled. You can soon get over it and hope to be on your guard next year. Maybe though, your attitude to Jesus has been foolish in that you have never looked at the evidence that Jesus was crucified, died, and rose again. Or perhaps you feel it is just a nice notion on the level of ‘Elvis lives’. But the resurrection of Jesus is too serious to neglect. A destiny of heaven or hell depends on what we do with Jesus. Heaven is not a reward for doing good but is a gift, purchased by Jesus, and given to all who turn from their own ways and trust him as their Lord and Saviour. Hell is for those who choose to live without God in life, and so in eternity.
Today is the time to make the wisest decision and turn to God, asking him to forgive you for all your sin and foolishness and to ask Jesus to become your Lord and Saviour as you begin to follow him.