Some of us remember a '60s television comedy called "That Was the Week that Was," also known as "TW3." It took a satirical look at that week's headlines by lampooning political figures of all stripes. There's nothing quite as humbling as humor to remind us of our humanity.
Leonard Sweet wrote that "since the devil never laughs, a sense of humor is the best weapon in the fight against evil." ("Faithquakes," p. 111) He was in the spirit of G. K. Chesterton who defined pride as "the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One 'settles down' into a sort of selfish seriousness ... Satan fell by force of gravity ... Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly." ("Orthodoxy," p. 120-121)
It may be a sign of God's sense of humor (Psalm 2:1-2) that we enter Holy Week - the week that really was and always will be the most life-transforming week in human history - on April Fool's Day.
One way to experience the Palm Sunday parade (Mark 11:1-11) is to see it as divine satire, lampooning all our ideas of power, knocking us off our high horses when we see Jesus riding into the capital on a flop-eared donkey rather than a charging war horse. There's nothing funny, of course, about where this journey is taking him. He knows as well as we do that folks who refuse to play the world's power game face the real possibility of being nailed to a cross. But he also knows that this world and all of us within it, will never be saved by the world's ideas of power. God's way of salvation is not the way of loveless power, but the ironic power of powerless love. That's why we need the Savior we meet at the cross.
Only a Fool Would Believe That
Paul gets it right when he says that the cross is "foolishness" to the world. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25) New Testament scholar, Richard Hayes writes that "If that shocking event is the revelation of the deepest truth about the character of God, then our whole way of seeing the world is turned upside down." ("Interpretation," p. 27)
Paul uses the Greek word "moria" which comes into English as "moron." The world takes one look at the humble Savior on the donkey or the bleeding Savior on the cross and says, "You'd have to be a moron to believe that." But God's foolishness is wiser than the world's wisdom and God's weakness is stronger than human strength. The cross is the foolishness by which we are saved. No fooling!