Some historians trace the origin of April Fool’s Day to between the fourteenth and the sixteenth centuries—some trace it clear back to the time of Noah. The original name may have been “All Fool’s Day.” Regardless of its origin, April Fool’s Day celebrates foolishness, naiveté, and gullibility. But the resurrection of Jesus is no joke, no hoax, and no prank.
The resurrection rests on fact, not folly. When Christians embrace the declarative statement of the angels, “He has risen,” they are accepting the collaborative eyewitness testimonies of hundreds of people. They are acknowledging that God acted decisively in Christ to defeat Satan and has essentially turned the joke on him. The resurrection is not a matter of faith; it is an indicative of fact. Appropriating that fact does take faith. In Luke’s account of the resurrection, three realities testify to the resurrected Christ.
On Sunday very early in the morning (Matthew has “at dawn,” Mark has “very early…just after sunrise,” and John has, “while it was still dark”) the women came to the tomb with their spices. The object of their attention was the rolled away stone, which revealed the absence of the corpse of Jesus. As they wondered (to be at a loss, uncertain, disturbed) about this, two men in white (Matthew’s account is the only one to use the term angel) announced the good news with a question, an affirmation, and an imperative.
The question to these frightened, but reverent, women was, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” It is a most logical question. If God exists, and God is God, then why would it be incredible for him to raise the dead (Acts 26:8)? The question is followed by an affirmation, “He is not here; he has risen!” All other founders of world religions remain in their graves, but Jesus is gone from his. The only imperative in our entire text is in verse six, Remember. Jesus made many veiled references to his death and resurrection, but during his ministry he made three clear references to the cross (Mark 8, 9, and 10). The angels reminded the women of these predictions, and they remembered his words. British lawyer Frank Morison was a skeptic who became a believer. Upon investigating the evidence for the resurrection, he wrote a book entitled, Who Moved the Stone? The stone continues to announce that Jesus has risen.
Frightened and joyful, the women ran from the tomb to tell the apostles the good news. Three of the six women who are named in all the resurrection accounts are mentioned. Mary Magdalene is mentioned in all four Gospels. The apostles did not receive the message with enthusiasm. In fact, they thought the report was nonsense (empty talk). The resurrection does seem like foolishness to some (1 Corinthians 1:18). But at least Peter wanted to check it out.
John’s account makes it clear that he accompanied Peter to the tomb. In fact, he outran Peter (see John 20:3-10). They saw the clothes, the strips of linen Jesus had been wrapped in, lying by themselves. The sudarium (a face cloth that was wrapped around the head to keep bugs from getting inside the mouth) was folded up neatly in place (John 20:5-7). Neither apostle understood, but Peter wondered (marveled) at what had happened. The clothes continue to announce that Jesus has risen.
Our printed text moves to the concluding scene of Jesus’ resurrection appearance to the two on the road to Emmaus. This was one of the many appearances that took place immediately following the actual resurrection of Jesus. Cleopas and his companion were on their way to Emmaus discussing the strange events of the day. They were joined by Jesus himself, but they were kept from recognizing him. Jesus played naïve at first, but then began to interpret the Old Testament concerning himself. They were so taken by this Bible exposition they asked this strange visitor to dine with them.
At the dinner the guest became the host. Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. The light bulbs above their heads came on, and Jesus disappeared. The good Bible study Jesus had given them led to heart burn. They returned to Jerusalem in record time and told the apostles the incredible news. Jesus is still discerned in the meal, and the meal announces that he has risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Dr. Mark Scott teaches Preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, ©2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.