Sermon: Easter Sunday – “Fools”

The Resurrection by Sebastiano Ricci

An atheist professor was teaching a college class and told the students that he would prove there was no God. He said, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you 15 minutes!”

Ten minutes passed, and he kept taunting God, saying, “Here I am, God, I’m still waiting.” 

He got down to the last couple of minutes when a 320-pound lineman on the football team happened to walk by the door and heard what the professor was saying. The football player walked into the classroom and, at the last minute, hit the professor with a haymaker, sending him flying off the platform.

When the professor woke up, he stood and, still shaken, said, “Where did you come from, and why did you do that?”

The 320-pound lineman replied, “God was busy; He sent me!”

When you begin to talk to people about what Jesus said, most will believe it. The good solid teachings. They make people want to be better individuals. They teach us how to live. All that talk about “Loving your neighbor” gets people’s motor running.

When you talk about some of the things Jesus did, like flipping over the tables in the Temple or picking and eating grain on the Sabbath, folks are pretty much OK with these as well. Even his trial, death, and crucifixion are believed to be historical facts because most believe in a historical Jesus, and crucifixion was how the Romans dealt with criminals and troublemakers. But when you talk about the miracles Jesus performed, folks start to get a little skeptical. 

Giving sight to the blind, healing the lame, feeding the 5000 (that’s a maybe because they can logically figure out how that might have been done. They assume more food was available than was recorded in the Scriptures), walking on water, and casting out demons (this one gets a double negative because you’ve first got to believe in demons.) When you begin to talk about miracles, people start to shake their heads. They say, “Those things just aren’t possible.”

When you bring up Jesus raising the dead, you run into a brick wall. Lazarus, the little girl, and probably others we’re not told about. It’s like St. John wrote at the end of his Gospel, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Ask around about raising the dead and you will be told, “Not going there.” And the one that is an absolute hard-stop show-stopper is Jesus being raised from the dead on the third day. You talk about that, and for many, you’ve entered the land of make-believe and fairy tales. To believe in the resurrection makes you a fool.

Can I tell you something that you may already know? I am a fool. I believe, and I would like for you to believe and to be a fool, also. The trouble is I cannot prove any of it to you. Even if I could get a 320-pound lineman to come in, hit you with his best haymaker, and say, “God was busy, so he sent me!” You would still say, “I’m no fool.” Although, perhaps, you would not say it to the 320-pound lineman.

The First Sunday after Easter is always the incident concerning doubting Thomas. You remember the one: “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25) I know why it’s placed on the first Sunday after Easter but I also think it would be very appropriate for Easter Sunday because there are so many who fall into the same category as Thomas. When it comes to the resurrection, their first name becomes, Doubting. So how do we overcome our doubts?

An incident is recorded in Mark’s Gospel: a man comes to Jesus begging that his son be healed. The man says, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’!—Who do you think you’re talkin’ to with all that “if” business—All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 

“I believe; help my unbelief!” Is a prayer. It is a prayer from one who desires to believe but needs God’s grace in order to believe more fully. You see, believing in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and all they have accomplished, including the resurrection, is not a matter of your reasoning, or your faith, or your understanding. Believing these things is a grace from God. As St. Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) By grace, you have been saved. By God’s grace, we are able to believe, so pray with the man, “I believe; give me Your grace, and help my unbelief.” 

Pray for God’s grace and become a fool with me when and so many others. That belief, that faith, comes with some exceptional benefits—not just for when you’re dead and gone but for today. Benefits like peace of body, soul, and mind, joy even in difficult situations, healing—not always the body—but always of the soul and spirit, a love that can be felt and expressed to others, and so much more… and even though you may think me more a fool for saying it, it also comes with eternal life. Life with God and all of God’s children.

Saint Paul says, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19) And again, speaking of the Apostles and therefore speaking of us, he says it plainly, “We are fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10a) becoming spectacles “to the world, to angels, and to men.” (1 Corinthians 4:9b) 

Pray that you may become a fool for Christ. Pray that you may receive God’s grace and believe.

Let us pray: 

Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate.
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen.
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing.
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty.
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever.


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