April 1, 2018 was Easter and interestingly it was also April Fools’ Day! This also the case in 1725, 1804, 1866, 1877, 1923, 1934, 1945, and 1956. So, it’s been almost 33 years since Easter and April Fools’ Day fell on the same day (interesting connection: the central figure of the Easter story is Jesus – and he would have been 33 years old when the events of the very first Easter occurred).
Since foolin’ people is such a big part of April Fools’ Day, it seemed an interesting connection to, in part 1 – It’s A Hoax! (which was scheduled to be part 1 until the weather changed things) of CCC’s No Foolin’ series, dig into the Easter story to examine if the claims were just foolin’ or if they were true. The central claims that Jesus was crucified on Friday and the tomb he was placed in was found empty on Sunday are fairly commonly known and generally accepted historically.
Explanations for the reasons Jesus was crucified and the tomb was empty is when things get quite a bit more interesting. Followers of Jesus explain these things by claiming Jesus was the Son of God (and this claim by him was the reason he was crucified) and the tomb was empty because he is risen from the dead. Then there are others who claim Jesus was some kind of historical figure and the tomb was empty because the whole resurrection story is a hoax.
Take a few minutes to read Matthew 28:1-15 and the next step of considering the following questions about whether Easter is a hoax or really happened.
- What’s one of your favorite practical joke or April Fools’ stories?
- What makes it one of your favorites?
- Why might the women who went to the tomb been both frightened and filled with joy?
- Why might some people claim the women were overcome with grief and went to the wrong tomb?
- Why might some people claim the women were hallucinating because of their grief?
- Why would the Jewish religious leaders bribe the guards and concoct a story about the empty tomb?
- What is the historical significance of there being no question in the minds of those present that Jesus really died on the cross?
- What is the historical significance of there being no question in the minds of those present that the tomb Jesus was place in was indeed empty?
- In what ways might the empty tomb be explained?
- How plausible does the explanation that Jesus was alive again seem to you?
- In the accounts of Jesus’ life, it’s recorded he appeared to multiple people over the course of several weeks. How does this impact your opinion that the resurrection might be true?
- Do you believe Jesus’ resurrection is a hoax or true?
- What next steps will you take to determine what changes for you if Jesus’ resurrection is true?
If Jesus’ resurrection did not happen, everything followers of Jesus believe falls apart. If Jesus’ resurrection did happen, it’s something that happened that changes everything.
Today is Monday – make it a day where you take the next step of determining if Jesus’ resurrection really happened, and if it did, what changes for you because it did!