The origin of April Fools’ Day is not easy to pinpoint. Some trace it all the way back to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in 1392.
Others contend that it dates back to the late 1500s when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. It was reportedly a time to mock those who were a little slow to adapt to the calendar change.
Even though the origins of the “holiday” are somewhat elusive. It has remained a lighthearted time to plot a clever ruse against your friends or family.
Interestingly and ironically, Easter falls on April 1, or April Fools’ Day, this year. This will be the first time that has happened since 1956 and will not happen again until 2029.
Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox. The spring equinox occurs on March 20 this year.
After this year, Easter will only occur on April Fools’ Day 12 times in the next 310 years. However, let everyone know that Easter is no joke and it should not be depreciated by pranks or any kind of levity. Easter is the most important day in the Christian year.
Lee Strobel, former legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, was once America’s foremost skeptic and avowed atheist. He recently admitted that there was a day when he would have laughed to learn Easter fell on April Fools’ Day.
In fact, in those days of unbelief he explained, “I thought anyone would have to be a fool to think that Jesus literally rose from the dead.”
However, after going on a quest for the truth through two years of research and intense Bible study, Strobel became a confident Christian and subsequently wrote The Case For Christ.
In his spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Strobel not only carefully examined the Word of God, but cross-examined scholars with doctorates from schools like Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields, asking questions like: How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?
Strobel is now a professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University and has spent the last 25 years of his life sharing the evidence that supports the truth and claims of Christianity and to equip believers to share their faith with the people they know and love.
Strobel recently came out with a list of four reasons why the resurrection of Christ is true. You can view his reasons here.
Skeptic thinkers influenced Frank Morison, an English journalist at the turn of the 20th century. He set out to prove that the story of Christ’s resurrection was only a myth. Like Strobel, his probing and investigations were extensive. But instead of finding that the resurrection was a fable, a myth, a fabrication, he discovered that the evidence supported the biblical story.
Morison ended up writing Who Moved the Stone – a well-researched book that attested to the truthfulness of the resurrection. Strobel stated that Morison’s book was “an important link in a long chain of evidence that God used to bring [him] into His kingdom.”
As we approach the Easter season, consider the following evidence that supports the biblical account of the resurrection of Christ:
(1) In Acts 1:3, the Bible tells us that the resurrection is authenticated by “many infallible proofs.” First of all, there is the empty tomb. All the authors of the four Gospels are in complete agreement that Christ’s tomb was empty three days after He died.
The oldest attack against Christ’s resurrection was that somebody stole the body of Jesus. The chief priests according to Matthew 28: 12-15 “… gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, ‘Tell them, His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ So, they took the money as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
But this argument did not convince very many people. Common sense will tell you that the Disciples did not steal His body and pretend Jesus was resurrected. Three days earlier the disciples had fled for their lives when Christ was arrested and crucified. It is highly unlikely that these fearful men would have gotten up enough courage to steal the body of Jesus – and then begin boldly preaching that He rose from the dead – at the risk of their own lives. No, that is an extremely unlikely argument. The facts simply don’t match up. The disciples were hiding in a room with the door locked, “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).
The only other suspects who could have stolen Christ’s body were his enemies. The problem with that theory is that Christ’s enemies had no motive to rob His grave. The chief priests and other religious leaders put Christ to death because He threatened their religious system and way of life. The last thing these men wanted was for people to think Christ was alive again. So, there is the empty tomb.
(2) The next proof of the resurrection is fulfilled prophecy. In I Cor. 15:4 we are told, “He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” By Scriptures, Paul meant those passages in the Old Testament that predicted the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
For example, in Psalm 16:10 David says, “For you will not leave my soul in Sheol nor will you allow your Holy One to see corruption.” David could look down the corridors of time with the telescope of faith and see that death and hell had no power over the Holy One (Jesus).
But Jesus foretold his own death and resurrection. In Mark 10 Jesus said, “”Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”
And in John 2 Jesus had this conversation with the Jews. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
The resurrection is the “Amen” of all the prophecies and promises of the Word of God. The Bible preaches a Christ who was dead and is alive, not a Christ who was alive and is dead.
(3) There are the testimonies of eyewitnesses. This is remarkable. In I Corinthians 15:5 Paul says that Jesus was seen of Cephas (Peter), and then by the 12 disciples.
By the way, Thomas was no pushover when it came to convincing him of the resurrection. He said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And Jesus gave him permission to do just that and do you remember what Thomas said? He said, “My Lord and my God.”
Then consider what John wrote in his first epistle: He said, “that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled…. We declare unto you.”
Then in verse 6 Paul says that 500 brethren saw him at one time. And he added, “Many of those people are still alive. Go ask them.” In the Bible anything could be established among two or three witnesses. Here we have 500 witnesses at once.
Now, let me ask you a question. When people are trying to pass along a lie about a certain event, do they invite others to check with the eyewitnesses who actually saw it happen? No, if they are passing a lie off as the truth, the last thing they want to do is have someone nosing around looking for the facts.
In verse 7 Paul tells us that he was seen by James. This is James, the half-brother of Jesus. Do you remember how highly skeptical he was of his older brother? He was a tough customer. He was not a believer for a long time, but Jesus made an appearance to him and I don’t know when he was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, but he became a changed man.
Then we read that Jesus was seen by all the apostles again. Then Paul says, “Then last of all He was seen by me also, as one born out of due time.” Now you talk about somebody who would be hard to convince. That was Paul. Paul was a thinker, a debater, a philosopher and he was not about to be deceived by some phony baloney. Paul gave up all of his accomplishments in Jewish academia to take up with the very one that all his friends and associates rejected.
(4) The next proof of the resurrection is the martyrdom of the apostles. If the resurrection was a lie, why did every one of the apostles go through so much suffering to proclaim it? The Apostles not only continued to preach the resurrection of Christ, they even died rather than deny it. As we read church history we find that every single apostle (with the exception of John, who was tortured and exiled) died horrible deaths because they preached that Christ had risen from the dead.
Dr. D. James Kennedy said, “This is a vitally important fact. In the history of psychology it has never been known that a person was willing to give up his life for what he or she knew to be a lie.
(5) Finally, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the beginning of the church. It has been said, “The empty tomb of Christ has been the cradle of the church.”
Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, just 48 days after the resurrection. Peter’s argument for conversion was the fact of the resurrection. Many of the people that he preached to would have been at the crucifixion and would know what happened. Over 3,000 people were converted and baptized that day. In Corinthians 15:12-19 Paul says that the resurrection is essential for salvation and the existence of the church.
I could give other reasons, but R.A. Torrey said, “The resurrection of Jesus is the Gibraltar of the Christian faith and the Waterloo of infidelity and rationalism.”
This April Fools’ Day you may plot a clever ruse on your friends or family members, but remember that it is also Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is no hoax, no prank, and no ruse. It is an absolute fact and the most important event in human history. I declare to you with certainty and confidence, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
When Jesus was crucified and buried, Satan thought he had won the victory. But Easter was the day the devil’s doom was sealed – the day God outsmarted Satan.