The Joke of the Resurrection

 

This year Easter Sunday falls on April 1, April Fools’ Day. No doubt all the church sign people will have a heyday: “He is Risen: It’s No Joke!” (you heard it here first). Unbelievers will likely mock Christ on these grounds, as though the resurrection is an April fool’s joke. They are right, of course. The resurrection is a joke, but the joke’s on them.

On the evening of Good Friday, the entirety of Holy Saturday, and the early morning of Easter Sunday, Jesus was dead. It looked like death was triumphant, like Satan had won and sin was alive and well. Then did the world rejoice, while Christ’s disciples mourned (John 16:20). But early on that Sunday morning two thousand years ago, Jesus fooled his enemies by rising from the dead, triumphant over sin, death, and hell. He made his enemies think they had the upper hand, but then he came back to life again and showed that they were defeated through the very thing by which they supposed they had triumphed—his own death. The Divine Son took on flesh and blood that “through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14–15).

His disciples’ sorrow was then turned to joy (John 16:22). When Jesus appeared to the disciples, they had trouble believing it; they thought it was too good to be true. They “disbelieved for joy” (Luke 24:41). The disciples became like barren Sarah, who laughed when she heard that she would bear a child in her old age. The church laughed because God had done the impossible, and she has been laughing ever since, for the joke never grows old.

When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion,

We were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

And our tongue with singing.

Then they said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us,

And we are glad.

(Psalm 126:1–3)

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