One of the unique things about April is the way it starts. It starts with the unofficial holiday called “April Fools Day”. Did you experience any pranks this year? April Fools Day is the day for pranks and trying to fool people into believing something that isn’t real. Last week my wife shared a link with me on Facebook of the top pranks that parents could pull on their kids. There were some pretty funny ones on the list. We might have to save some of those for when we have kids that are old enough to enjoy them.
Some of my favorite April Fools Day jokes over the past few years have actually come from Google. Seems like a weird place to find pranks, but Google always seems to release a few things that range from the “almost too good to be true” to “absolutely unbelievable” and for a while people regularly fell for these pranks. I think I like them because I’m sort of a technology nerd at heart.
One prank that Google pulled a few years ago was called “The YouTube Collection”. This was their “brand new” service that was going to be similar to Netflix, but for YouTube videos. The premise was that they would send you DVDs with various YouTube videos on them and then you could comment on the videos via regular mail that you would send back to them. Apparently they would also send you other people’s comments that they were making on the same videos.
I know, you probably think this sounds ridiculous, but I am sure there were some people who read it and thought, “Oh that is a great idea, let me fill out the sign up form!”
Why am I talking about April Fools Day? It isn’t a church holiday, so it may be weird to be reading about it in the church column. Well, I bring it up because we’re rapidly approaching one of the most important days in the church. Next week Christians all over the world will be celebrating Easter. Now Easter isn’t just a day to go hunting for eggs, gorge on candy, and have a special family dinner. All of those things are fun, but Easter is the day that Christians celebrate Jesus rising from the dead and fulfilling the mission that brought him to earth.
Now some people think that it is crazy that there could be a man named Jesus who was the Son of God. A man who lived, who loved people, who healed diseases, who was tortured, killed, and then rose from the dead. It’s easy to think that this was just one big April Fools Day joke made up by a bunch of people thousands of years ago. I mean people don’t just rise from the dead every day. In fact, I guarantee that all of the people that you personally know who have died are still dead.
So why do Christians celebrate such a hard to believe event? There are many reasons, but one of my favorite comes from a guy named Paul who lived around the time of Jesus. In one of the letters that Paul wrote he said that after Jesus rose from the dead he appeared to over 500 people, many of whom were still around for the recipient of the letter to go and check with to corroborate the story.
Paul then goes on to hit this claim about Jesus not rising from the dead head on, he says, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
He says that if Jesus didn’t actually rise from the dead, then our preaching is worthless, our faith is in vain, we’re misrepresenting God, that we have no salvation from our sins, and we have no hope. He even says that we should be pitied for being so foolish.
The next part of his letter says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead”. You see, this isn’t an April Fools Day joke. Jesus did die and he did rise from the dead and he did it for you because he loves you. Because of Jesus’s resurrection on Easter we have forgiveness, new life, and amazing love. It’s pretty awesome if you ask me.