Pastor’s Message | April 2018
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1Corinthians 1:18)
I expect that I am not the first one to note with bit of amusement that not only have Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fallen on the same calendar day, but that Easter Sunday and April Fools Day are sharing a date as well. First we have Love and Death together, now we have Resurrection and Foolishness together.
Before Jesus’ death even took place, people thought Jesus was joking when He spoke about dying and rising again. Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him for speaking like this (Mk 8:32). When Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the Temple, people surrounded Him and demanded to know by what sign (from God) He received the authority to do such a thing. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The people laughed at Jesus and thought He was a crazy fool, saying, “This Temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body (Jn 2:13-22). But would they have thought that claim to have been any less ridiculous?
After Jesus was sentenced to die on the cross, He was taken away, and the Roman soldiers had some fun with Him. The whole company gathered around, and they stripped Jesus and dressed Him up like an emperor with a purple robe, a staff in His hand, and a crown twisted together from thorns pressed into His scalp. They knelt before Jesus and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” They took the staff from His hand and beat Jesus repeatedly on the head, spitting on Him. Then they led Jesus away to crucify Him (Mt 27:27-31). Even while nailed to the cross, Jesus was teased and taunted. A sign above His head joked, “This is the King of the Jews.” The soldiers thought it would be funny to dip a sponge in sour wine mixed with gall and press it to Jesus’ lips (Mt 27:34). The people, the soldiers – even the man hanging on the cross next to Him – watched His agony and sneered, “Aren’t you supposed to be the Christ? How come you can’t save yourself?” (Lk 23:36-39).
On the day of the Resurrection, something funny actually took place. Pilate the Governor had posted guards outside of Jesus’ tomb, with the instruction to “Make the tomb as secure as you know how”(Mt.27:65). Which is funnier: that a man thought he had the power to keep the tomb of Jesus sealed, or that he posted the guard because he had the inkling of a fear that maybe he couldn’t? Either way, the guards fainted with fright when they saw the angel of the Lord appear to roll back the stone, and then sit on it! I picture that angel sitting on the stone next to the empty tomb, kicking his feet in the air, and roaring with laughter.
The cross doesn’t make sense to the eyes of the world. Why would the Son of God subject Himself to such a fate? This Death can only make sense through the eyes of Love. How else can we possibly see what the power of God’s Love looks like in its fullest measure? That the Father would give us the Son, and that the Son would love and trust His Father so much that He would endure all things for the love of us – His brothers and sisters – that is the foolishness of the cross, which is the wisdom of our marvelous and loving God! Thanks be to God!
Happy Easter to my Brothers and Sisters,
Pastor Leslie M. Richard