Easter this year, not only falls on the day we turn our clocks back one hour to end daylight saving, but it is also April Fool’s Day. I find that very interesting.
The changing of the clocks often causes some people a little confusion and consternation. Some April Fool’s day jokes can also cause confusion and consternation. One of the most startling ones I can remember is when Dr. Hugh Wirth, the well-known Vet on the Saturday morning talk back ABC radio show, informed listeners that new legislation required that cows pastured in fields near public roads, would have to wear a type of “nappy”, to control the amount of waste in the fields.
To my surprise, lots of people rang in very indignantly, complaining about how unreasonable this was, and how cruel to the cows!
To the close friends and followers of Jesus, following his dreadful death by crucifixion, the discovery on the third morning that his tomb was empty, must have caused just as much confusion and consternation. If this was a joke, it was certainly not funny!
In fact, the Christian belief in the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from death, has often been called foolish. The very idea of Christianity was considered foolish at first, by all who encountered it. To claim that Jesus was the Christ – the anointed Messiah of prophecy – was both blasphemous to the Jews and dangerous bait to the Romans, who considered their emperor to be the most powerful man in the world, and a god.
On top of that, this son of a carpenter from Nazareth was crucified by the Romans. This sort of death was the most shameful possible – the punishment for slaves who murdered their masters; calculated to provide the most pain as well as the most shame.
Then, of course, the greatest foolishness of all was to claim that Jesus had been dead, then buried, but on the third day, his tomb was found to be empty, and the news went around that he was alive! No wonder the rumour was circulated that his body was stolen away by his followers.
Yet…. In this year – 2018 – here we are! We still celebrate that great mystery. Like the women in Mark’s gospel, I think I would feel fear and awe. They must have been in the very early stages of grief and shock, following the death of their friend – and now they were confronted by the emptiness of his tomb! How would they have the courage to tell the good news….at first?
We are here to tell the tale – a long tale of foolishness and struggle. Yet the Christian people of all those intervening centuries, have endured hardship, persecution, and often death itself, to defend the truth of that tale. The fact is, that something happened. It is only a real experience of relationship with the living Christ, which can make us believe.
Christ is Risen! Happy Easter!