The April Fool

The April Fool
John 20:1-18
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Happy April Fools’ Day. Not only is it my birthday but it seems like something else huge is happening in the church today, Oh yeah Happy Easter. He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed! Very good now end of sermon. Ok, ok I will try and give you a little more to think about today. Easter and April fools’ day really do not happen all that often together. It’s actually been 62 years since Easter and April Fools’ day coincided. That’s because the date for Easter is set based on the lunar calendar. According to the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. Easter is going to come again on April Fools’ in 2029 and 2040 but then skip all the way to 2108 another 62 years.
But since it is Easter and April Fools’ day we need to have a little fun with it don’t you think? I love the ideas that have been popping up on social media. Grapes in place of chocolate candies in tin foil and cake balls dipped in chocolate replaced by Brussel sprouts. And the always great caramel dipped apple replaced by an onion, but nothing can compare to the Swiss spaghetti harvest in 1957. The BBC showed farmers harvesting spaghetti in the fields and people actually called the station wanting to go and help with the harvest if they could have some of the spaghetti. People also wanted to know how to get some of the spaghetti plants so that they could grow their own. That was one of the greatest April Fools’ pranks ever. There has to be a Bob Everett joke in there somewhere.
Yet before we do go down that rabbit hole we have to remember that today is Easter and one of the most important holy days in the Christian year—I think it is numero uno but some may argue. Yet with it being April Fool’s day I wonder who was the biggest April fool in the Easter story? There are a ton of candidates that come to mind.
Is the April fool Ponitus Pilate? He is the one who kowtowed to the religious Sanhedrin and believed them when they said that if Jesus was not dealt with he would look really bad before the Roman government. So, he washed his hands of the whole affair and allowed the execution to take place. Then, it’s Easter and Jesus is Risen! Sorry Pilate April fools!
Perhaps the Disciples are the April fools? I’m sure most of the disciples felt that Jesus made them look like a fool. They had given up careers and families to follow him. Yes, they had seen some really cool miracles and he seemed to be a pretty good preacher but when they saw him being led off to his death they ran away and went back to their old lives. They wanted nothing more than to be known as someone who hung out with that criminal. And now it’s Easter morning and Jesus is risen! April fools!
Maybe the April Fool is Annas, the high priest, the one who is like Palpatine from Star Wars. He is always lurking in the shadows and getting others to do his bidding for him. He has placed a mole in Jesus’ inner circle known as Judas. He pulls strings and makes sure Jesus is dead and buried quickly before many know what they have done and get Pilate to look like the real executioner. But wait it is Easter morning and He is Risen! April Fools!
How about Peter he would make a good fool the one always having to be heard and be first. He starts out so happy to leave his fishing business and his father by the boat. He is there for all the really cool stuff like walking on water and the transfiguration. He even declares that Jesus is the Messiah. But then when the soldiers show up he lops off an ear, and then when things get the most intense he denies his relationship with Jesus. He runs away in tears and then it is Easter morning and Jesus is Risen! April fools.
Maybe we who are sitting here today are the April fools? Surely the world thinks that we are. Some in the world think that we are bonkers to believe that someone can be raised from the dead and that we refuse to face our own mortality and use Jesus as a crutch. Even though most of the world believes in a higher power they really are uncertain about the resurrection thing being real. Maybe you as well sitting there are here for the Easter egg hunt or the brunch to follow.
But maybe instead of April Fools we are Easter fools. We claim to believe but behave as we don’t. We affirm a belief in the resurrection of Christ. We declare that he is Risen! But we live as though Jesus were still in the tomb, cold and decaying. We affirm our beliefs with our lips but do not confess Jesus as Lord with our lives. And now friends it’s Easter morning and He is Risen! April Fools!
No, the biggest April fool is not Pilate or Annas, the other disciples or even Peter and it is not any of us. The greatest April fool is Jesus Christ himself! He is the fool of Easter. He is the greatest trickster that ever lived. He is the one who called the devil’s bluff and now has the keys of death and Hades in his hand.
During his ministry he acted in foolish ways eating with outcasts and sinners, going to the tax collectors house and talking to Samaritan women. He choose weakness instead of strength, vulnerability instead of aggressiveness, truth instead of practicality, and honesty instead of influence. He argued with the religious authorities of the day and even seemed to seek out trouble for the proclamation of the Kingdom when he could have just walked away. It was like he was seeking their ire and then they finally had enough and he was condemned. But death could not hold him, the grave could not contain him.
On Easter Fools’ Day is recorded for us in several places in the New Testament, “God made foolish the wisdom of the world” (1 Corinthians 1:20). Jesus was God’s Fool, “a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks,” whereby God reconciled the world to himself (1 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:18).
Today, Jesus is alive! — he who “for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). It was Jesus who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
Pretty foolish, it would seem. But this is not the end of the story.
“Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, … and every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
On this Easter Fools’ Sunday, perhaps this is what we have an opportunity to do: As fools for Christ, as God’s fools, we might consider in humble reverence reaffirming our allegiance to the one who pulled off the greatest jest in history.
Will you pray with me: “Lord Jesus, many people might not think it’s the smartest thing in the world to follow you. In fact, they may think we are crazy, and that you yourself were something of a lunatic. But we have just enough foolish faith to believe that you pulled it off, that you conquered death and brought life and light to the darkened world. So we recommit our life to you — to be your fool, as it were, to live for you, and to seek support in that company of fools we call the church. Amen.”

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