Only a Fool?

Updated: Oct 15, 2018

Only a Fool? "April Fool's I'm Not Dead" by Ian Duncum

There have been some spectacular April Fool pranks played. In 1957 the BBC documentary Panorama, reported on Switzerland's “spaghetti farmers”, tending long, thin fields of crops. In 1998 Burger King produced a “Left-Handed" Whopper, especially designed for left-handed burger-lovers by rotating all condiments exactly 180 degrees.[1] They were outstanding tomfooleries in that so many people were taken in by them, jamming telephone lines in both cases and placing orders for the burgers.

This year Easter Sunday falls on the 1st of April, April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day. It has not done so since 1956, and will not do so again until 2029. Is the resurrection of Jesus a remarkable prank, designed to take in the gullible? Or is it so much more?

And what about the life of Jesus? Giving up a promising trade in carpentry to wander the countryside as an itinerant preacher with no reliable source of income. Only a fool would do that! Redefining who was “in” and “out” with a message of God’s loving forgiveness extended to all. Only a fool would seek to upend the norms of his society like that. Crowds followed Jesus only to hear him speak in puzzling riddles. Only a fool would waste a platform opportunity like that. Bringing together a disparate band of disciples (none of whom looked like set the world on fire material), and setting out with them to turn the world upside-down. Only a fool would believe that was possible.

Only a fool would take on the religious establishment (who had cozied up to the Roman invaders). Only a fool would predict his early death and that he would rise again. Only a fool would give up his life for you and me.

Michael Frost unpacks what it means to say that Jesus was a fool:

The first is that by this world's standards of success, prestige, and influence, Jesus can be considered a failure, a misguided (though commendable) fool. The second level is the more provocative. It suggests that Jesus actually played the fool in order to enhance his ministry. I think both are true. [2]

Many times we can watch a movie and predict how it unfolds. It is the movies, the stories that break out of the routine with their unexpected twists and turns, that often remain with us, like a shard prodding our mind and heart. The apostle Paul puts this foolish-wise paradox that can get through to us like this:

18–21 The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hell-bent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,

I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,

I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.

So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.

22–25 While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tiny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.” [3]

The greatest April Fool’s Day prank is the resurrection of Christ from the dead. God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom. And Jesus invites us to follow him in his absurd foolishness to display the wisdom and power of God.


[2] Frost, Jesus the Fool.