I’m sure you have noticed that today, Easter, is also April Fool Day. Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Because of the different dates for the full moon, Easter can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25. The most common Sunday for Easter is the first or second Sunday of April. Consequently, Easter falls on April 1 about four times each century.
I always celebrate Easter and I never celebrate April Fool. But you should know that the first Easter had its own April Fool prank. Matthew 28 has this story after the women came to the tomb and found it empty:
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
The chief priests, elders, and soldiers told the story that Jesus’ disciples had come and stolen away his body. The April Fool prank is that Jesus did not rise from the dead. Instead, his body was stolen.
The story of the resurrection is so amazing that sometimes we think it is a hoax, like the famous April Fool spaghetti harvest hoax. But the real hoax is perpetrated by those who say the resurrection did not happen. People of faith may not understand entirely the miracle of Christ’s resurrection, but they know Jesus arose. On Easter Sunday we gather to affirm our faith in the one whose love conquered fear and death. His resurrection defeated the powers of darkness. The ones who do not believe in the resurrection, who cling to the darkness, are the real April fools.
Our risen Lord is not a hoax. He is alive, he is real, and he comes with the promise of resurrection and eternal life for each of us.