And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:17-20
Philip was born with Down syndrome.
He was likeable, lovable, but coordination kept him from doing everything his classmates did. It was two weeks before Resurrection Sunday, and Philip's teacher gave each of her students a plastic egg. You know, the kind of colored eggs pantyhose used to come in.
She told them to bring back their eggs with something that reminded them of Easter. It could be a real object or a drawing they had done. Anything would work just fine.
The following week the class came back and each of the students opened and explained the meaning of the symbol they had brought in their plastic egg.
One egg held a pretty flower; another held a photograph of a butterfly. It was an incredibly exciting time and the kids were squirming to see what each person had brought. The volume kept getting louder as every student felt the need to explain his or her egg or evaluate the eggs of others.
But then, second to last, an egg was open which contained nothing. That's right. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing. The kids were speechless. At least for a moment they were speechless. Then came the critique. No, critique is not the right word. Criticism is the right word.
One of the students commented "That's stupid!" or "Someone didn't do his homework!" or "Did their symbol get dropped on the floor? Where did it go?"
After a minute, Philip confessed: "That egg belongs to me. It's empty, because Jesus' grave was empty." It was, in the language of Luther: a "Here I stand" moment.
Philip got it, just as 500 years before, Luther got it. Jesus' grave is empty and because of that our sins are forgiven. Because of God's grace alone, found in Scripture alone, received by faith alone, heaven awaits.
Yes, Philip got it. That summer Philip got something else: an infection. Most children would have shaken off such a little thing. Philip's body couldn't.
At his funeral, nine eight-year-old children, accompanied by their teacher, brought a gift and placed it in his casket. I don't have to explain it was a plastic egg, you know, the kind pantyhose used to come in. But there was nothing inside that egg.
It was empty -- just as empty as Jesus' tomb.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for the resurrection which shows that Your work is complete and I have been forgiven and saved. May the world see what You have done as clearly as did Philip. In the Savior's Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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