Easter is on April Fools' Day, but the resurrection is no joke. The story we will examine centers around the guards at the tomb and the story they are told to tell others. "The fool says in his heart there is no God."
A. One of my favorite lines in the original Star Wars was said by Obi-wan to Han Solo as they planned to enter the Death Star and destroy it, “Who is more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?” How many kids tried their best to do some type of April Fool’s joke on a parent this morning? Maybe, I should ask, how many parents tried to do an April Fool’s joke on their kids this morning? Many times a person is aware of the day and aware of the joke and so it’s not all that funny. In fact, some people have done some mean pranks in the name of April Fool’s day.
B. There have been many stories over the years of some of the pranks that became something people believed. For example, in 1957 the BBC reported Swiss farmers were experiencing record spaghetti crop and many views believed it. But my two favorites were in 1996 when Taco Bell announced it bought the Liberty Bell and renamed it Taco Liberty Bell. And in 1998 when Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper. Many people wanted to buy one until the found it was a hoax.
C. But let me tell you about a lie that told the truth. My point is, once this lie is revealed we will see the context of the lie tells the truth. I want to start in Matt. 27:62-28:4. There is the truth – chief priest knew that Jesus said he would rise from the dead. The truth is they were given guards to secure the tomb. The truth is the guards saw the angel and fainted. The prompting of the hoax story proves to me that the very people who did not believe, the chief priests, knew beyond doubt the truth of what happened that Sunday morning. But Matthew records that at the time of his writing the story of Jesus, many people still believed the hoax story.
I. The Fool
A. Ps. 14:1. The fool of Proverbs 14 is not so much a person who denies God exists, as he who rejects that God matters in life. There are many people who reject the authority of God’s word for their individual life. They reject the wisdom from the Bible as greater than their own enlightened thinking. They are the fool because they place themselves as wiser than God.
B. Even if the Psalmist is saying that this person denies the existence of God, the end result is they do what they want to do because they do not believe in any consequence by God to their personal life.
C. In the NT we see Paul speaking of some people in the same. Listen to Rom. 1:21. Here are people who knew that God was real, but that was enough for a life change. Foolish thinking led them to do what they desired. Paul says it again in verse 28. “They did not see fit to acknowledge God” the NLT says “They thought it foolish to acknowledge God.”
II. The Cross Is Foolishness To Man
A. Turn with me to 1 Cor. 1:17. Paul believed in the power of what happen at the cross and the culmination of it at the resurrection. Paul wanted to make it clear that he preached the gospel message – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Not to try and manipulate people into baptism, but to draw them to cross of Christ where they left their sin and to be buried with Jesus in baptism so that they can rise up a new creation. The power of the cross and the resurrection is so that we can burst forth from our tomb of sin and the bondage in which it held us and live a life of victory.
B. That sounds great but the world doesn’t get that message. Listen to Paul (1 Cor. 1:18-19). Did you hear him? The message, the “word”, the “logos” of the cross is foolishness to those who are dying in their sin. Why? Because the Jews were demanding a sign and the Gentiles were seeking wisdom and the preaching of the cross was a stumbling block for both Jew and Gentile. But stay with Paul for just moment (READ 1 Cor. 1:25).
C. Let me quickly tell you Paul’s story. You see, as a young man he left his home in the Roman city of Tarsus and lived in Jerusalem being trained by the great Jewish Rabbi Gamaliel. He watched as Stephen gave a great and stirring account of Jesus, but the message was so bold it cost Stephen his life and the young man Saul held the coats of those who killed him. With a fire of anger with these Jesus people, Saul would continue to grow in power. Listen to his own words (READ acts 26:9-11). But something happened to him on that road to Damascus.
D. There on that road a light brighter than sun drove him from the beast he was riding to the ground. There on that road Saul met Jesus in the light. A voice spoke to Saul and asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul asked who it was that was speaking, and the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”
E. The wisdom of Saul was foolishness and he realized it. Saul would become the apostle Paul and give us the words we read in 1 Corinthians. Paul understood the perceived wisdom of men and knew, beyond doubt, that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. Paul would no longer believe the hoax story that Jesus was still dead and the apostles stole his body, for on that day Saul of Tarsus knew the truth. The very chief priests he trusted in and by whose authority he bound people were liars.
A. You can choose to believe the lie that Jesus died on a cross and that his body was stolen by the disciples, or you can believe in a hill called Mt. Calvary and the power of what happen on the cross and the glory of what we experienced on that resurrection Sunday. If we can help you in your spiritual walk with the risen Lord, then come as we stand and sing.
May God Bless You,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister