Sunday, April 1, 2018

Lenten Season, 2018: Holy Week, Easter Sunday, April 1st

New Beginnings: See?  I Am Doing a New Thing!—God
Jesus played an April Fool’s joke on the religious leaders!

And now Holy Week, which began with so much promise and then seemed to rapidly spiral downwards, had an unexpected twist! Certainly, seeing Christ whipped and then being crucified on a cross caused many to feel downhearted, disappointed, and distressed. However, Easter is on April 1st this year, and it occurs to me that Jesus played the ultimate April Fool’s Joke on those who mocked, abused, and tortured Him. The self-righteous religious leaders believed Jesus’ Crucifixion had taken care of their ‘problem.’  Jesus’ body had been tucked into a tomb and a huge stone had been rolled in front of it, but still that didn’t satisfy them. Suddenly, there was another loose end they felt compelled to tie up and they went to Pilate to inform him of the rumour that Christ had said He would rise again. So, to prevent any magic tricks, such as the disciples making His body disappear, they requested the tomb be sealed and guards posted at the entrance, (Matthew 27: 62-64).
But how did the religious leaders know about Christ’s Resurrection prediction? Jesus had only spoken of it privately with His disciples: the First prediction (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33; Luke 9: 21-22); the Second prediction (Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9: 30-32; Luke 9:43-45); and the Third prediction (Matthew 20:17-19; Luke 18:31-34). Yet the chief priests and Pharisees knew enough not to take any chances and went to Pilate to prevent any sham from taking place. At last they could rest in the satisfaction that Jesus no longer posed a threat to them, because His followers would scatter now that Jesus was dead forever—or was He?
Early Sunday morning Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome returned to the Christ’s tomb with spices to anoint His body, but they wondered how to move the heavy stone from the tomb entrance (Mark 16: 1-3). The terrified guards had already run away when they saw an angel roll away the stone (Matthew 28:1-3) to report to the chief priests, who developed more lies to cover their previous deception. Plus they bribed the guards to help spread their newest lie, which was that if anyone asked, they were to state that while they slept the disciples stole Jesus’ body. Moreover, if the guards were to be brought up on charges for falling asleep on their watch, these same leaders would lie to the governor to keep them off the hook (Mat. 28: 11-15).* How appalling that these deplorable religious leaders demonstrated to the gentile guards that it was OK to lie, because ‘the ends justify the means.’ This is an important reminder to us today: we are to be set apart for Jesus, which includes following His teachings versus our own desires. 
After Jesus’ Resurrection, He appeared to different individuals and groups of people (one was a crowd of 500), which provided eye witnesses and solidified the truth that He was alive. But what a great April Fool’s joke: The Son of God, Whom had refused to claim an earthly throne, broke the chains of sin and death with His triumphant Resurrection! Instead of being dead forever, He was alive forever, and there wasn’t anything the religious leaders could do about it!  Also, He ascended to Heaven, where we who recognize Him as our Saviour, will join Him. Hallelujah!

[*Note: the guards would most certainly have fearful of punishment that could include death. See the Article, “Guards at the Tomb: The Discipline of the Roman Soldier”]

He is Risen!  He is Risen, Indeed!

Blessings & Peace

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk

Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor) Canada

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