1 April 1994 was a memorable Day for me because it was the day on which I asked my now wife, Rebecca, if she would be my girlfriend. My reply to those who occasionally express surprise that such an amazing woman would ever marry me: “Well of course, it is just that I have been fooling her ever since!”
‘April Fool’s Day’ is a great day for trying to sneak past someone something as if it might be true, but it really isn’t. Over the years there have been many untrue things printed and many fooled, so I wonder which of the following do you think have been April fools, or are perhaps true?:
Coca Cola Helium – Coca Cola is to introduce a new fizzy drink to make your voice squeak every time you have a sip
Iceland Frozen Flowers – Iceland is to introduce a new range of frozen flowers to help them last longer
Third Class Train Carriages – Operators are to introduce standing room only carriages to ease congestion and costs
Meh-Mite – Marmite is to introduce a new blander version that will be impossible to love or hate
Fact of Fiction? I’ll leave you to decide, or do ask me next time I see you!
But what about the news headline of 2000 years ago that claimed that Jesus had died, but had then come alive again? Were the first Disciples fooled, and so also Christians ever since? I have done enough funerals to know that people do not normally, or for that matter ever, come back to life. So, is it all true as Christians claim? Well billions down the centuries have come to believe on the evidence they have discovered that it is reasonable to believe: Jesus clearly died and did not just pass out (the Romans did not make mistakes when the flogged and crucified people); the body of Jesus was not stolen (Roman guards were under penalty of death if they failed in their duties); Jesus appeared to over 500 people and many at one time (so it could not have been a matter of wishful thinking or hallucination); and, in my opinion most convincing that after deserting Jesus, the disciples would not have gone on ‘to die for what they knew to be a lie’.
2000 years ago, the birth of Jesus, the life of Jesus, and most especially, the death and resurrection of Jesus, shook the people of the world in events that had never been seen before. An April fool is made to look real at first glance real, but quickly on closer inspection is clearly not. The death and resurrection of Jesus, is however, the other way around, on first sight foolish to believe, but the closer you read and investigate convincing and true. So if maybe you are not sure about the Easter events, can I encourage you to have a look at the eyewitness accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) which are a good place to start and, there are also many good books that you could read. A classic which many have found helpful is called ‘Who moved the stone?’ by Frank Morrison. Frank was an atheist lawyer who set out to prove the resurrection to be on the level of an April fool, but on the evidence he uncovered, became convinced of the opposite – that it was and must have been true. And what if it is true? It means of course the most wonderful news we could ever hear – that death is not the end, and that there is the sure hope of a new life with God and each other.
With my prayers and blessings for a real and very Happy Easter
Revd James Hunt
Rector St Peter’s Bishops Waltham and Blessed Mary Upham
1st April 2018