Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Easter and the Empty Egg



When my daughter was little, I purchased a set of Resurrection Eggs at the Bible bookstore to help her understand the Easter season.

The set contains twelve plastic eggs – like the ones used for Easter Egg hunts – that crack apart to reveal a prize inside. The set is unique though in that it helps visually illustrate the Easter story for young children. My daughter loved it.

Day by day we would read the Bible passage and section of the devotional. At the end, she would crack open the colorful egg to reveal what was inside. One day it was a tiny palm leaf, symbolizing Jesus’ triumphal entrance. A miniature crown of thorns made her wince as I explained that the wicked men hurt Jesus by pushing this torturous device onto his head. I saw the gospel come alive for her as we cracked open each of the eggs.

The last day – Easter Sunday – was celebrated with church and Easter baskets. But my daughter was also excited to open that last egg. That afternoon, we read the passage and the devotional as she fidgeted with the purple plastic egg in her hands. She shook it – but it didn’t sound like much. That was okay – one of the eggs had contained a piece of cloth.

Finally I nodded to her to go ahead, and she cracked open the final egg.

To her dismay, the egg was empty.

She shook it and looked into it again. There was nothing to see.

“Oh,” I explained. “It’s supposed to be empty.” I told her how the women had gone to the grave and Jesus was not in it. The tomb was empty – no body to be found. For those women that was amazing and wonderful news.

My daughter was not amazed or delighted. She angrily set down the two halves of the purple egg. “Don’t they know they’re going to disappoint kids!” she said. “At least they could have come up with something to put in it! This is supposed to be the best egg of all!”

We still laugh today about her angry reaction to the Resurrection Eggs. Yes – I suppose it is disappointing for a kid – to come to the last egg and to find nothing at all. Just empty space. For her – it was a symbol that just didn’t make sense.

Christians use a lot of symbolism to express and celebrate their faith. We drape our crosses with purple to represent the royalty of our Lord. We use a cross – a device of torture and death – to represent the sacrifice of Christ. We use an empty tomb to represent eternal life.

The empty tomb, for believers of Christ, does not really focus on a grave at all. We know that just days after Jesus hung on the cross – his body suffering and giving in to physical death-- He rose again and conquered the grave. He appeared, physically, to His disciples and hundreds of others. They touched his wounds. He spoke with them and walked with them. Then He ascended into Heaven.

For me, and for the millions around the globe who celebrate this holy day, this is not an ethereal belief, but a vivid reality. Christ is risen. He is alive! Maybe that is not something you can easily capture for a child in a plastic Easter Egg, but it is a truth that comforts my heart for those who have passed from this world and that gives me eternal security for my own future.

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