In 1976 the British astronomer Patrick Moore made an announcement on BBC Radio 2. He said this, “At 9:47 a.m. today there will be a “once-in-a-lifetime” astronomical event occurring.” He said that listeners could experience it in their very own homes. The planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that would counteract and lessen the Earth’s own gravity.
Patrick Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment that this planetary alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation. When 9:47 a.m. arrived, Radio 2 began to receive hundreds of phone calls from listeners claiming to have felt the sensation. One woman even reported that she and her eleven friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room. The date was April 1, 1976.
Or what about his more recent prank? On April 1, 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in an American newspaper announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu, a “Left-Handed Whopper” especially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper, lettuce, tomato, hamburger, and so on, but all the items were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The next day, Burger King issued a follow-up.
The follow-up press release said that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. And according to the press release, “many others had requested their own “right-handed” version” of the Whopper.
With April 1st just a couple short days away, it got me to thinking. The date for Easter moves around each year. And in the year 2018, and again in 2029 it will land right on April 1st, April Fool’s Day.
A lot of us have played April Fool’s jokes on others, or have had these jokes played on us. But what if history’s worst joke turned out to be that we were counting on a salvation that didn’t even exist?
In fact, in I Corinthians chapter 15, Paul raises the “Bad News:”
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. (v. 13)
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (v. 14)
For it the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. (v. 16)
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins. (v. 17)
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. (v. 18)
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (v. 19)
In other words, we’d be the victims of history’s cruelest April Fool’s joke! But, fortunately, Paul also goes on with the “Good News:”
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (v. 20)
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. (v. 21)
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (v. 22)
The Good News is, it wasn’t a cruel April Fool’s joke. Jesus really did defeat death, and we can too.