In the early 1800s as Henry Ward Beecher stepped up to the podium of Plymouth Church to preach, he found a letter awaiting him. He opened it and found it contained only one word: “Fool.”
With becoming seriousness, he announced to the church the contents of the letter. Then he said, “I have known many an instance of a man writing a letter and forgetting to sign his name, but this is the only instance I have ever known of a man signing his name and forgetting to write the letter.”
There are times when we all feel like fools whether someone calls us one or not. Most of us don’t really need a special day—April’s Fool’s Day—to remind us of those times. Shakespeare put it this way: “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
In our highly technical age, it is impossible to know everything about anything. Science says that we use no more than 10 percent of our brain’s capabilities. (And this is more evident in some than in others.)
In a practical sense, we must choose the areas in which we intend to remain ignorant. I have chosen nuclear physics, advanced calculus, and anything more mechanical than an electric can opener.
While ignorance can be bliss in some things, to be ignorant in vital matters is worse than foolish. It is asinine. I heard of two women who were looking through a colorfully-decorated card shop in California. Pastel Easter bunnies, chicks, baskets, and eggs filled the shelves and were suspended from the ceiling. One of the women picked up a card with a cross on it and was heard to remark to her friend, “Will you look at this? They’re even dragging religion into Easter now!”
This year Easter Sunday–commemorating Jesus’ resurrection after His death on the cross–falls on April Fool’s Day. At first blush that may seem a travesty, but God isn’t bothered by it. In fact, He made the first connection, saying through Paul, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).
In other words, the only foolishness about the Cross and its aftermath, Easter, is in the minds of those who consider it too simple to be true or worthy of investigating.
On the first Easter Jesus, in His resurrected body, joined two of His followers as they walked to Emmaus, mourning the death of the one they had hoped would be the Messiah. As He walked with them, He didn’t allow them to recognize Him but all the way explained to them how the crucifixion had fulfilled God’s plan and was just what their Scriptures had predicted. He told them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).
There are, by biblical definition, many kinds of fools. The believer, like those on the Emmaus road, who has not gone far enough in faith to have peace and assurance. The fool who has said in his heart, “No God.” The rich fool who planned to increase his storehouses, eat, drink and be merry—not knowing it was his last day on earth. Or those like Paul who, undeterred by what anyone thought or what it would cost him, willingly became a “fool for Christ’s sake.”
An old song asks, “What kind of fool am I?” On April Fool’s Day—this year also the holiest day of the year—it’s still a good question.