Summary: Sermon for an Easter Sunrise Service on April Fool's Day
As most of you probably know, today is not only Easter, but it is also April Fool’s day. Although that occurs more often than you might think, the last time this occurred was back in 1956. The next occurrence will be 11 years from now in 2029.
So it’s certainly possible that some of you have already been the victim of an April Fool’s prank. Over the years, there have been some really ingenious hoaxes carried out on April Fool’s Day:
• Probably the most famous was the one carried out by BBC TV in 1957 where they ran a segment showing the Swiss spaghetti harvest, which was experiencing a bumper crop due to mild weather and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil. Apparently hundreds of people called the TV station to find out where they could observe the harvest in person or where they might be able to purchase their own spaghetti tree.
• In 1996, Taco Bell took out newspaper articles claiming that it had purchased the Liberty Bell in an effort to help reduce the national debt. Even some senators got taken in by that hoax and the National Park Service had to hold a press conference to deny the news.
• In 2015, Cottonelle used Twitter to announce that it was introducing left-handed toilet paper.
I’ve seen a lot of suggestions about how to play tricks on people this year since Easter falls on April Fool’s Day. One of the most common that I’ve seen involves wrapping grapes in foil to make them look like mini chocolate eggs. And I even saw someone suggest holding an Easter Egg hunt without any eggs. I promise that we won’t do that to your kids this morning. We have plenty of filled eggs for them to find.
Now if you’ve ever fallen prey to those kinds of April Fool’s tricks or even if you get tricked by someone today, you may feel a bit foolish for a while, but you will probably recover just fine and you’re not going to experience any lasting harm.
But there is another kind of foolishness that I’d like to talk to you about for a few minutes that is far more serious because it has both present and eternal consequences which are permanent. And not surprisingly it’s a kind of foolishness that is not new. In fact, we know that it has been around for nearly 2,000 years at a minimum, since the apostle Paul wrote about it in a letter to the church in Corinth about 20 years after the resurrection of Jesus.
This morning I’m going to read just a paragraph from that letter and use it to make a few comments about this foolishness. I’ve included that passage in the insert in your bulletin if you want to follow along as I read. And there is also some space there to take any notes if you would like.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
(1 Corinthians 1:18–25 ESV)
Paul can get a bit wordy at times, so let me see if I can’t help you get to the bottom line here. Here is Paul’s main point:
It is foolish not to follow God’s ways
even when they seem foolish to me
And that is particularly true when it comes to the cross.
Things really haven’t changed a lot in nearly 2,000 years. Today, the majority of the world still considers the idea that the way we are made right with God is through the death of Jesus on a cross to be foolishness.
There were two main reasons that the people of Paul’s day considered the word of the cross to be foolishness and those are still the two main reasons that people consider it to be foolish today.
For the Jews, the cross was a stumbling block because it meant that Jesus was not the kind of Savior that they were expecting. In their thinking the Messiah was going to be a strong warrior who would liberate the people from their Roman oppressors, not succumb to them. He would triumph over God’s enemies, not be crucified by them.