The statistics are alarming and at the same time amazing – one out of every one person who lives … dies!
Death is universal! It happens to each and every one of us! And yet, so many people see to be so very unconcerned and unprepared for it!
One scholar has opined that only a fool allows himself to be unprepared for that which is inevitable. And yet, countless people come to that threshold where they cross over from this life into the next and admit to not being ready.
But because of the resurrection of Jesus, because of the Easter holiday that we are about to celebrate, those who are Christ-followers can have the security and surety that their future is assured.
That is the message that is so special and so life giving about Easter. The resurrection that Christians all over the world commemorate is not just some historical event that is nice and comforting and pleasant to think about. It is utterly necessary for any hope and life and future at all
The true story is told about a young man named Jeremy. Jeremy was 12 years old but he was only in the second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His body was twisted … his mind was slow … and his teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with his squirming and his grunting noises.
But at other times, he spoke pretty clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness in his brain. No one could have guessed that Jeremy would end up teaching his whole class — and his teacher.
Miss Miller finally became so exasperated with Jeremy that she asked his parents to come to the school for a conference. At that time, she told his parents that she felt strongly that it would be better for Jeremy and the other students if he were in a special school. His mother begged for Jeremy to stay where he felt safe.
After they left, the teacher struggled with what to do. She wanted to sympathize with the parents — after all, their only child had a terminal illness. But what about the other students?
Well, God did something in her heart that day. She ended up praying for the patience to be what Jeremy needed. From that day on, she tried to ignore his noises and blank stares.
One day he limped up to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. And out loud, Jeremy exclaimed, “I love you, Miss Miller!” The other students snickered and she was a little embarrassed.
As Easter approached, Miss Miller told her students the story of Jesus, and she emphasized the idea of new life. Then she gave each child a large plastic egg and assigned them to bring it back the next day with something inside the egg that showed new life.
The children were all excited — except for Jeremy. Doris saw no signs that he understood. She was going to call his parents that night to explain the assignment, but she forgot.
The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in this large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. Then came the time to open their eggs. One had a flower in her egg; another a plastic butterfly; still another had a rock with moss on it — all symbols of new life.
When Miss Miller opened the fourth egg, she just quietly gasped. The egg was empty! It must be Jeremy’s. She was going to quickly set it aside when Jeremy suddenly spoke up: “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Doris said, “But your egg is empty, Jeremy!” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too! Jesus was killed, but His Father raised Him up!” The recess bell rang … the children ran out to play … and a teacher cried.
Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the funeral home were surprised by what they saw there. On top of Jeremy’s casket, there were 19 eggs — all of them empty!
In John 14:19 Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live.” The tomb is empty. The arguments about the way to God end at that empty tomb. Our insignificant, earthbound lives don’t have to be small anymore — when we open up to the power of the One who blew the doors off His grave. Our questions and our fears about what happens after our last heartbeat are answered at that empty tomb.
Easter Sunday is still more than a week away, but that message still rings true: Jesus has beaten what has beaten every other person who ever lived. No other religion on the face of the earth even attempts to proclaim such a victory as that.
Because He lives, you shall live also … forever. Because He lives, you can face whatever tomorrow, whatever the future, whatever life may bring.
That’s the message of Easter! That’s the message of Resurrection Sunday!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.