BISHOP OF PORTSMOUTH: Why should people follow a man who got himself crucified?
The Rt Rev Christopher Foster focuses on foolishness and what it means to Christians.
With Easter changing dates each year, every now and then you get strange coincidences with the timing.
This year, Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent) was on Valentine’s Day. And, Easter Sunday was on April 1 – April Fool’s Day.
Announcing on April Fool’s Day that Jesus is alive, having been crucified, died, and buried, feels like asking for trouble, as though it might turn out to be the ultimate April fool.
While Christians believe that Jesus really was raised to life, the idea of Godly foolishness is important for Christians.
St Paul, in a letter written to Christians in a city called Corinth, spoke about the foolishness of the cross of Jesus, and about God’s foolishness being wiser than human wisdom. What’s all that about?
Well, Corinth was a city where people went to climb up the social ladder. There was a lot of trade because it was near a port, and that also meant that lots of wise thinkers would pass through, speaking in public squares about the latest ideas.
In a place like that, people were always on the lookout for the latest wisdom, so that they could impress the neighbours.
In that world, it was foolishness to speak about a saviour who had got himself executed on a cross, because it made him look like a total failure, an embarrassment.
And even though Paul talks about the resurrection too, a lot of the Corinthians were probably a bit suspicious that this person managed to get himself crucified in the first place.
Why should they bother following such a leader?
But Paul doesn’t apologise for the foolishness of following a crucified saviour, because he says that Jesus’s resurrection actually turns all that on its head.
The fact that Jesus rose again allows the so-called ‘foolish’ people to pull the rug out from under the pomposity of the wise people.
God chose the people who seemed weak to shame the strong. God chose the people who were seen as nobodies, to challenge the so-called important people.
So the message of Easter is for all of us who feel small, weak, foolish, or unimportant. It reminds us that that is what people thought of Jesus, but that at Easter God raised him up.
If that’s how you feel, be reassured that God wants to transform your life too. Happy Easter!