Easter Sunday 4/1/2018 9:45 Luke 24-1-12
Rev Mylicia Markham
He is Risen-He is Risen Indeed!
On this Easter Sunday – It’s also April 1st known as April Fools’ Day.
This unusual combination of dates cannot go without comment.
The last time Christians celebrated Easter April 1 was in 1956 — more than 60 years
ago when the world was so unlike the world and culture we live in today.
Why do I have a bar of Ivory Soap? Let me be honest and up front now…… (Personal
Today -Easter. The highest and most holy day of the Christian calendar. A day to
celebrate; our risen savior and New Life.
In light of April fool’s day-perfect back drop to look at the ‘fools’ along the road to the
Pontius Pilate – He was the one who cowered in the face of certain religious leaders,
who said that failing to deal harshly with Jesus would not be viewed favorably by Rome.
He is the one who washed his hands of the whole affair. He permitted the execution,
and not only permitted it, but allowed it to happen in the name of the emperor.
Pilate! It’s Easter and Jesus is risen!
There’s no doubt that many of the disciples felt foolish as the crucifixion approached.
They had given up their jobs for this Jesus. They had left their homes and families to
follow this man up and down Palestine. Yes, they had been witness to some
phenomenal events, stuff they could not then, and could not now explain. They had
pinned their hopes and their futures to a man they believed would liberate them. And
now He was being led away as a lamb to the slaughter. So the disciples went home.
They abandoned him, betrayed him and wanted to forget him and all that had just
Disciples, do not worry its Easter morning and Jesus is risen!
Facing the Cross-Facing New Life
Perhaps the April fool is Annas, the high priest. He has corrupted witnesses, falsified
evidence. But now, with Passover approaching, he must make sure Jesus is dead and
buried and quickly! He pulls the strings. He plays Pontius Pilate like a West Virginia
fiddler. He gets what he wants. The crucifixion of Jesus.
Annas, its Easter morning and Jesus is risen!
Perhaps the April fools are the soldiers guarding the tomb. You have to feel for these
guys. As I said at 6:30 this morning-it would have been 16 soldiers –four would be
solder to solder facing out. The other 12 would be in a semi-circle facing inward.
Rotating every four hours to keep the soldiers fresh. The scripture is not clear on the
number at the tomb. But they were ordinary guys, following orders. But think about
this-guarding a dead man. Bet the teasing was brutal when they got off work. Guarding
a dead man.
Soldiers, it’s Easter morning and Jesus is risen!
Then we have Peter, the commercial fisherman. Oh, Peter started out enthusiastically,
no doubt. He defended his rabbi right and left. He was the one who identified Jesus as
the “Christ, the Son of the living God.” He swore never to abandon his Lord. He even
drew a sword against Roman security forces, and nearly decapitated one of them, but
his swing was faulty and lop off a piece of the solider ear, not his head in which he was
But then, Peter loses faith faster than a rock sinks in water. When Jesus is led away, he
denies he ever knew the man. And the person who said he would never leave Jesus,
Peter, its Easter morning and Jesus is risen!
Perhaps the April fool is Thomas, the one with a Ph.D. from Jerusalem Institute of
Technology. Oh, Thomas thought he was so smart. He prided himself on his knowledge
of the visible world. He delighted in understanding how things worked. He was a curious
fellow, believing there’s a natural explanation for everything. When Jesus talked about
going “to prepare a place” for them, it was this scholarly fellow Thomas who asked, “We
do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5).
Facing the Cross-Facing New Life
When his colleagues asserted that Jesus was alive, it was Thomas, ever the academic
and scientist, who demanded to see the evidence. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in
his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not
believe” (John 20:25).
Thomas, its Easter morning and Jesus is risen!
Perhaps it’s us. We being the April fools- Certainly, much of the world believes- we…
who love Jesus, who… follow his teachings, who… obey his word, are regarded as fools.
Though, sometimes, even when we love, follow and obey…. declaring that “He is risen!”
We live as though Jesus were still in the tomb. We affirm our belief with our lips but do
not confess Jesus as Lord with our lives.
Paul makes it clear, “That if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old
has passed away; everything new has become new!”
It is first important to point out the verb tense of the new life Paul is talking about. He
says that the “Old HAS passed away.” Our new life is something that that has happened
when we have become “in Christ.” Our new life is not something that we attain by hard
work over a long period of time. Its gestation period is Jesus Christ hanging on the
cross on Good Friday to being raised from the dead on Easter Sunday.
A sinful life is a self-centered rather than God centered life. “I” is at the center of sin,
and focused on the “I” we ignore God or live in rebellion against God’s will and
With Christ, our old life is replaced by a new life that enables us to live before God in
righteousness and purity forever. Our desire becomes the accomplishment of God’s will
rather than the realization of our will. This is a big new! It is much more than tweaking
our lives by improving our speech, or attending worship more regularly.
Our new life also comes with a new purpose. At one time our goals were to make ends
meet, to be successful and affluent, or to “eat, drink and be merry.” These are no
longer our goals. Our goals now are to pursue our calling to mission and ministry.
Our new life causes us first to view everyone around us as people whom God loves and
for whom Jesus died. This is very different from the way the world views people. From
the world perspective people are separated by their differences and judged by
Seeing everyone as loved by God and forgiven through the cross of Jesus Christ, we
seek to reconcile those around us. Those who think they are enemies of God -we are
Facing the Cross-Facing New Life
able to tell that they have been forgiven and made friends of God because of Jesus. To
those who feel judged by God, we are able to share God’s love.
And now, friends, its Easter morning and Jesus is risen!
Death could not hold him. The grave could not contain him. Today, Jesus is alive! — He
who “for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its
shame and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
It was Jesus who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human
likeness, and being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to
the point of death — even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
Pretty foolish, it would seem. But this is not the end of the story.
“Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every
name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, … and every tongue
should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
On this Easter Sunday April 1st, perhaps this is exactly what we have an opportunity to
do: Be fools for Christ.
Let us pray- “Lord Jesus, many people might not think it’s the smartest thing in the
world to follow you. In fact, they may think we are pretty crazy- But I have the faith to
believe, that you conquered death and brought life and light to a dark world. So we
recommit our life to you — as it were, to live for you, and to seek support with each
other and with our church family. Amen.”