Empty Tomb: A Death Blow to Death
by Rector Jim Murphy
We’re taught from an early age that “death” is the end of the road. When you’re dead, so it has been said, “Death is the third and final strike after the third out of the last inning, game over!” And so that might seem to be the case. The case, at least, to those without vision, foresight and faith. But that is not what the Christian faith believes nor knows to be the case.
Instead, death is the gateway to eternal life. For all those who have the eyes to see, Jesus’ empty tomb obliterated the myth of death as being the final arbiter. Bodily death is just another beginning of a whole new dimension of life that will never end. The following true story, demonstrates the vision of the prescient Christian, as opposed to the pseudo-wisdom of the informed skeptic.
“Little Philip, born with Down’s syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls. Typical of that age, the children did not readily accept Philip with his differences, according to an article in leadership magazine. But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully.”
“The Sunday after Easter the teacher brought L’eggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large eggs. Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that lovely spring day, find some symbol for new life, and put it in the egg-like container. Back in the classroom, they would share their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in surprise fashion. After running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the table. Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one. After each one, whether a flower, butterfly, or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh.
Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside. The children exclaimed, That’s stupid. That’s not fair. Somebody didn’t do their assignment.” Philip spoke up, “That’s mine.””
“”Philip, you don’t ever do things right!” the student retorted. “There’s nothing there!” “I did so do it,” Philip insisted. “I did do it. It’s empty. The tomb was empty!””
“Silence followed. From then on Philip became a full member of the class. He died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off. At the funeral, this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar not with flowers, but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose egg.”
Philip became the teacher of faith. He could see and understand what the empty tomb meant. It meant life unconfined, life with no limits. Philips’ classmates brought items that were limited in scope, dimension and duration—things that were passing away. His empty egg was, on the other hand, full of life and possibilities. Philip liked that, he wanted it.
Jesus’ empty tomb means that death does not have the final say for believers. Instead, the open tomb is the doorway to eternal life. Philip is there now. Alleluia, Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, alleluia!
Originally published in The Highlander, April 2018.