by Tyler Arnold
Practical jokes are never in short supply on the first day of April. Throughout the years, many have gone to great lengths to pull off elaborate hoaxes. Even the media has gotten in on the action. Radio stations report on fabricated stories. Newspaper and magazine editors run fictitious articles. Back in 1985 Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.
Yet while silliness and trickery are never in short supply on April Fools’ Day, this year on April 1, Christians will celebrate the wonderful TRUTH of the resurrection of our Savior Jesus.
“No FOOLIN’” … Jesus really was relegated for execution on a cross by His own people.
“No FOOLIN’” … Jesus was nailed to the accursed tree, died, and was placed in a borrowed tomb.
“No FOOLIN’” … He descended into hell with victory already in hand for you.
“No FOOLIN’” … Jesus knew what He was in for — the shedding of His innocent blood for the sins of the world.
Jesus is no April fool, and with His blessed resurrection, we can be confident that there is no teasing or trickery when it comes to the Savior’s loving work.
There’s “No FOOLIN’” us. Though the Gospel we preach may be “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23), God’s beloved children are no fools. We know what happened to our Savior. We know what needed to happen for the sake of the world. The world and its documentary filmmakers may keep trying to pass off the resurrection as a hoax — the most elaborate April Fool’s Day prank of all time — but we know better.
In many of our congregations during this blessed Easter Season, we will sing the popular Lutheran Easter hymn “He’s Risen, He’s Risen” (LSB 480). Both the text and the melody were written by the Rev. Dr. C.F.W. Walther, founder and first president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, so it has a special connection to our church body. Pay special attention this year to stanzas two and three of this rousing hymn, and remember as you sing that Easter Sunday declares Satan to be an absolute and eternal fool:
The foe was triumphant when on Calvary
The Lord of creation was nailed to the tree.
In Satan’s domain did the hosts shout and jeer,
For Jesus was slain, whom the evil ones fear.
But short was their triumph, the Savior arose,
And death, hell and Satan He vanquished, His foes.
“The fools” on resurrection morning turned out to be Satan and the foes of Jesus. Indeed, amid all the gladness and celebration at Easter, there was still “No FOOLIN’.” Jesus rose from the grave to show us that He has vanquished evil and brought new life through death. As Scripture bears witness to, and as Dr. Walther writes, “short was their triumph.” We know that when our Lord announced on Good Friday “It is finished,” He was speaking about more — infinitely more — than His suffering and imminent death. He was also sending a clear message into the corridors of hell: “Satan, ‘It is finished’! Satan, YOU ARE FINISHED!”
There are times in our lives when it might appear that Satan has triumphed and we have lost. But what Dr. Walther wrote concerning the seeming victory of hell may also be said by us whenever and wherever Satan seems to be victorious in our lives: “But short was their triumph, the Savior arose.”
Our days may feel like the gladness of Palm Sunday or the sadness of Good Friday. Our daily setbacks may make it seem like Satan is winning. But his are only temporary victories. Easter shows us the ultimate and lasting victory of the Resurrection of Jesus the Savior — both His victory and, in Him, YOUR victory. And that’s “No FOOLIN’.”
The Rev. Tyler Arnold is senior pastor at Christ Lutheran Church — Platte Woods, Mo. He is also a Collegium Fellow for DOXOLOGY – the Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel