Culture At Large

Easter Fool’s Day

Branson Parler

This year the calendar just happens to sync up so that Easter and April Fool’s Day fall on the same day. At first glance, it might seem like these two days have nothing to do with each other. After all, one is the apex of the Christian calendar, celebrating Christ’s resurrection, and the other isn’t even a legitimate holiday, but a folk holiday of sorts commemorated primarily by annoying pranks. But the convergence of these days this year has reminded me of the way in which Easter reveals the double-edged foolishness of Jesus: he’s both the ultimate fool and the ultimate prankster.

On the one hand, Jesus is the ultimate fool. Many Christians are so saturated with Christian imagery that it can be easy to forget just how scandalous and weak the cross is. We’ve taken an instrument of torture and shame and used it so much, that we tend to think of the way of the cross and resurrection as just “natural” or obvious. But it’s not! Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that the message of cross is foolishness to those who don’t have eyes to see what God is doing. We have to acknowledge that there’s a foolishness and scandal in the path of cross.

What’s more, even the resurrection has a sense of foolishness about it. Jesus reveals himself first of all to women—who in those days were not thought to be reliable witnesses—and then his disciples. If it would have been me, I’d have marched directly into the Temple or Pilate’s court with a kind of made-for-television ultimate reveal that would shock and awe everyone with the truth. But Jesus doesn’t. And we can’t forget that the power of the resurrection is linked to the power of the cross—it is death that flows into life; it is complete self-giving that flows into restoration. The resurrection doesn’t negate the need for the foolishness of the cross; rather, it affirms the need for the foolishness of the cross, both in Jesus’ life and in ours.

Jesus is both the ultimate fool and the ultimate prankster.

But Jesus isn’t just a fool who suffers the pain of the cross. Easter Fool’s Day also reminds us that Jesus is the ultimate jokester. One theologian who plays up this dimension of God’s rescue plan is Gregory of Nyssa. He highlights that Satan and death hold humanity captive. We fell into sin through following the Deceiver, but in Jesus, we see that God has another trick up his sleeve. In history’s ultimate prank, Jesus offers himself up to death and the devil in exchange for sinful humanity and, like a “ravenous fish,” they take the bait. But Jesus has the last laugh, for “the hook” of his Deity was “gulped down along with the bait of flesh,” introducing unending light into the dark house of death and storming over death’s gates with the power of eternal life.

So this Sunday, be aware that the joy of Easter is tinged with notes of hilarity. Like any good practical joke, the complexity and planning only adds to the laughter when it actually goes off as planned. So this Easter, let yourself laugh in light of a prank planned since the foundation of the world. Let yourself rejoice in a joke gone right, a crucified fool who ultimately made a fool of death and the devil. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Topics: Culture At Large