Well, Easter Sunday this year is on April’s Fools Day!! To the village atheist that must seem very appropriate. But it is. Jesus’s resurrection was a big surprise and not expected. The early disciples were caught out by it and it must have seen like God’s April fool.
All the way through the gospel accounts of the resurrection, there is an element of surprise and the feeling that someone (God?) was having them on. It was far more than any of Roald Dahl’s tales of the unexpected or any practical joke or surprise.
In fact the resurrection was totally unexpected.
First, the women went early on Easter Day to anoint the body and to there horror the tomb was open and the body gone. According to John Mary Magdalene thought it was a case of body snatching. They went an told the disciples who thought it was an idle tale (Luke) – or thought it an April’s fool.
Secondly, John and Peter ran to the tomb to see what happened. They found the tomb, but didn’t believe in the resurrection. That came later. The disciples returned home without believing. I wondered what they were muttering.
Thirdly, later that that day two disciples were walking to Emmaus, seven miles form Jerusalem(Luke 24). Suddenly a stranger came alongside and asked what they were chatting about. They told him that they were talking about Jesus and the crazy claims of the women that Jesus was raised. They didn’t fall for April’s Fools jokes. The stranger tried to explain to no avail, but the penny dropped when the stranger broke bread.
Fourthly, on the first Easter evening most of the disciples, but sans Judas and Thomas were having supper (John 20). Despite locked doors Jesus arrived to be with them and they realised it was no April’s Fool, but actually Jesus had risen, though this was against all they had believed despite Jesus’ many hints.
Fifthly, after Jesus went, dear old Doubting Thomas arrived. He was never one to fall for an April Fool’s, as he was a bit of a Richard Dawkins, always demanding the evidence. His response to his mates claim that Jesus had risen was, No way, until I see the marks of the nails and sword.” He went off thinking his mates had fallen for a great April Fool’s!
Sixthly, DT aka Doubting Thomas. Spent a week chuckling but the next Sunday (which wasn’t Sunday then) was with his mates having supper in the house in Jerusalem. Along came Jesus as before and convinced DT it was no April Fool. He realised he was wrong and said to Jesus “My Lord and My God”. If the Romans had heard him he’d been executed for sedition. We here little of him as he went off to India and founded a church there.
Seventhly, the religious teachers tried to give life (or death) to the April fool’s and said the disciples had nicked the body. As Matthew wrote that this story is still told and still is!!
Eighthly, Jesus met the disciples for breakfast. One the advice of a carpenter Peter caught 153 musht or tilapia and they had them for breakfast. Jesus then embarrassed Peter by reminding him how he denied him but encouraged him by saying “YOU follow me”. (and so we must.)
Ninthly, back in Jerusalem forty days after April Fool’s Day (Matt28) Jesus told them to go all over the world and make followers of Jesus. They did, but didn’t get as far as your home at that time.
Tenthly, We are still at it telling everybody it was no April’s Fool, but some don’t care, even as they gobble their pseudo-chocolate Easter Eggs
So for us, even though it may seem God did an April Fool on us, it is for real and Jesus really rose from the dead. Everything else is an April Fool.
As Paul wrote, “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom.”
To many the Resurrection of Jesus is a joke whether for April or not, but to Christians it makes sense and gives hope
P.S. I dont think claiming that Jesus rose with a physical body is tenable and to say it was spiritual or ethereal rejects the New Testament. Far better to follow Tom Wright and say the body is transphysical, but he was only restating ancient beliefs