As a father, I have earned a distinguished reputation in my family for my April Fools’ jokes. They have certainly evolved to what some would call “fine art.” For my most recent masterpiece, one that left my family begging for more, I posted a picture of our new, very cute, brown, cuddly puppy on the morning of April 1, 2016. Of course, the photo was a fake, and my boys (now adults)…totally fooled! This was evidenced by their quick text reply of, “how cool!” followed by my response a few minutes later, “April Fools! Another successful April Fools’ Day for dad!”
The key to any April Fools’ joke is to take something that someone would hope to be true, make it look real and then, whammo!, it’s a fake. Now this brings me to my great dilemma – this year, April Fools’ Day lands on Easter Sunday. I could color Easter eggs that aren’t quite hard-boiled, or use a little Cayenne surprise on the boys’ chocolate bunnies, but that just seems wrong for Easter – or does it?
Recently, I participated with college students in a group discussion about what is real and what is not. We addressed the question, is God real? The students presented arguments for both sides, and it reminded me of the question we face every April Fools’ Day. Is what we are hearing true or are we being duped?
Real or Just an April Fools’ Joke?
This question of “what is real?” is especially critical when we approach Easter. Is the story of Jesus’ resurrection true, or is it a fanciful story that we like to tell because it fits with our traditions and makes us feel good? It is the central question that we, as dads, must get right or everything else we stand for is truly wrong. In fact, the discussion the students were having on the reality of God boiled down to this central question: did Jesus really rise from the dead? If he did, then it supports the notion that God is real, and this truth changes everything. If he did not, then we who believe in Jesus’ resurrection should be, as St. Paul says, “pitied.”
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15: 12-22 (NIV)
So, of all the questions we’ve been asked by our children, “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” is the most critical and the one we must get right. Is it true, or one big April Fools’ joke? Is it real or just another fanciful story, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?
The Case for Jesus’ Resurrection
We can address the answer through three lines of reason:
- Jesus foretold that he would die and then, in three days, rise from the dead.
“We are going up to Jerusalem,” Jesus said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Mark 10: 33-34 (NIV)
If he foretold it and then did it, he must be more than simply a man – he must be God!
- Historical evidence presents recorded eyewitness accounts that Jesus rose from the dead.
This includes more than 500 people who saw him, spoke with him and even dined with him. It is the same approach to historical evidence that supports the evidence-based truth that Julius Caesar was assassinated by Brutus in 45 B.C., and that Socrates was tried and eventually executed in 399 B.C.
- Those who lived during the time of Jesus and experienced the truth of Jesus’ resurrection went on to live changed lives.
They became bold in their telling of this truth even to the point of dying for this truth. It was not a small, isolated group of people who believed, but a strong group of individuals who remained faithful to the truth that Jesus really did rise from the dead. Even a great April Fools’ joke loses its effect once someone challenges it by revealing the truth!
Bottom line, the evidence supports the truth that Jesus did rise from the dead on Easter Sunday. It really happened, and this event changes everything! It’s important to keep this truth front and center this Easter. Take time with your family to explore the reality and the impact it has on our modern-day lives.
So, this Easter, ask those around you – especially your children – if the story of the resurrection is true or is it one big April Fools’ joke?
Dan Dolsen is the founder and director of The Fatherhood Project-Building Great Dads. The Fatherhood Project’s mission is to build great dads by equipping them with the tools to lead their families in the roles of provider, protector, partner and preparer. The Fatherhood Project is a Christian ministry and a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. The Fatherhood Project may be found at www.buildinggreatdads.org .
© 2018 The Fatherhood Project-Building Great Dads. Not to be reproduced or copied without permission of Dan Dolsen. PLEASE SHARE THIS MESSAGE WITH OTHERS! All Bible quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.