If you haven't heard the news, you've probably been living under a rock - Easter is falling on April 1st this year; more commonly known as April Fools Day. The last time April Fools and Easter collided with each other and shared a day was in 1956, and it won't happen again until 2029. Although the actual history of how April Fools Day came to be is unclear, it has become a widely celebrated day - mostly in Western and European countries. A day where people pull practical jokes and pranks on friends and family, and then go, "April Fools, just kidding!".
Enjoy it while you can, folks. I know I will. I personally can't think of a better day for Easter to land on. Two of my favorite days rolled into one day. I can celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, bite off the head of a chocolate bunny AND pull pranks on my siblings at the same time. Maybe I'll send them on an egg hunt ... to find no eggs (shh!). Or, perhaps I'll just replace all their chocolate, and put vegetables in their baskets instead. Yes, as you can tell I already have a few pranks up my sleeve.
You can probably assume that a large number of preachers are going to be using something to the effect of, "It's no April Fool's joke. Jesus paid it all", or how about, "Don't be fooled! Jesus is alive." in their sermons this Sunday. Although, I am hoping that given how much time they've had to prepare, they can come up with something more original than, "April Fools!" in their sermon.
In John 20, Mary Magdalene visits the tomb to see the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. She then runs to tell the disciples the news that the body of Jesus has been removed. In verses 15-16, we see Mary Magdalene having a conversation with Jesus, after she has wept outside of the tomb.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Even Mary thought that Jesus was dead and that his body had been removed and had been placed elsewhere.
This year on Easter we are reminded that Jesus played the ultimate prank on Satan. (God has a sense of humor, too). The devil thought that he had won when Jesus was crucified and his body buried in the tomb. Can you imagine the look on the devils face when he found out that Jesus was risen and not dead?
Why does this matter?
John 3:16 tells us, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus was faced with and overcame every horrible thing in this world, even death on the cross. He died on the cross for our sins. Simply put, a sin is anything that separates us from God. It is missing the mark, or God's mark. Anything from not obeying your parents, getting drunk, hating someone, murder, etc.
We are all sinners. Nobody is better than someone else, we all mess up and fall short of the glory of God. Because the Resurrection is real and not just another practical joke, we can be assured that our hope is found in Jesus Christ. His death on the cross means that we are no longer defined by our shame or sin. We are no longer defined by our fears or guilt. We have been redeemed by his grace. We are no longer chained and slaves to our sins and addictions. We are free in Christ.
As you celebrate the Resurrection this Sunday, rest assured that it is no practical joke - . Jesus is indeed risen. Our hope is found in Christ.