Two years ago, Easter Day fell on April 1. And so the story line was right there, ready to go: It was the sad end to the saddest week. The gentlest, purest, wisest man who ever lived, was betrayed, given a mock trial, beaten, and then tortured to death. They put his body in a tomb. They put a huge stone over the entrance to the tomb. Darkness and sadness covered the earth, and then on Sunday morning . . . April fools!
The angels dance and sing as the devil slinks away.
In the divine alphabet, F has to be for Friend, but we should also remember Foolishness. Saint Paul claims “the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (1 Cor. 1:25). What can this mean?
One might take it to mean there’s a wisdom-continuum, something like a number line. First you have the human range: from human foolishness up to human wisdom. And then there’s the divine range, from divine foolishness way up to divine wisdom. Paul might mean that no matter how wise we are, we never achieve even the (low) level of divine foolishness—much less a higher level of divine wisdom.
But that is a false picture, because there is no “range” in God’s wisdom. God just is wise, and his wisdom is just himself. There’s no continuum that goes from a human range to a divine range. (Ditto for God’s strength and God’s goodness.)
I think it better to say that God’s foolishness is the same thing as God’s wisdom. We call his wisdom “foolishness” when we don’t understand it. The preeminent example of this is the Cross. It makes no human sense to die like that, to give in to powers that you could have overwhelmed, to let wickedness carry the day. It is foolishness to us.
But in fact it is the wisest action ever done in the history of the human race.
And we know it is wise (even if we can’t see its wisdom) because in fact Jesus’ dying for us was the seal of his friendship for us.
When Easter falls on April 3, Good Friday is April Fools’ Day. (Children, that will happen next in 2067.)
But this year, this sad year of the Virus, of fear, of distance, of suffering and indeed death, who are the fools this year? Seldom have so many had so much overturned so quickly! There are always individuals who fall into the fool’s trap: He built bigger barns to hold his great wealth; he told himself he was set for life; but then he heard the voice: “Fool!” He heard that his soul would be required that night, and after his death, whose would his wealth be?
Individuals are foolish every day. But this season so many of us find ourselves, all at once, having gone on, month after season after year after decade, making plans, forgetting to our cost something we should always acknowledge, forgetting four simple words. They are in James 4:13-15: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain . . . Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” If the Lord will: four words, and here we are, a whole country, a whole humanity, humbled into remembrance of what we would rather forget.
This year, April Fools is all of us.