Crossroads: Jesus is Risen

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John 20:1-18

A Story

[For Easter, I am using my favorite Easter story instead of a personal experience. It’s long, but I hope you love it as I do. The story was originally written by Harry Pritchett Jr., and published in Leadership magazine, Summer 1985.]

Once upon a time I had a young friend named Philip. Philip was born with Downs Syndrome. He was a pleasant child—happy, it seemed—but increasingly aware of the difference between himself and other children. Philip went to Sunday school at the Methodist church. His teacher, also a friend of mine, taught the third-grade class with Philip and nine other eight-year-old boys and girls.

You know eight-year-olds. And Philip, because of his differences, was not readily accepted. But my teacher friend was creative, and he helped the group of eight-year-olds. They learned, they laughed, they played together. And they really cared about one another, even though eight-year-olds don’t say they care about each other out loud. My teacher friend could see it. He knew it. He also knew that Philip was not really a part of that group. Philip did not choose nor did he want to be different. He just was. And that was just the way things were.

My friend had a marvelous idea for his class the Sunday after Easter last year. You know those things that pantyhose come in—the containers that look like big eggs—my friend had collected ten of them. The children loved it when he brought them into the room. Each child was to get one. It was a beautiful spring day, and the assignment was for each child to go outside, find a symbol for new life, put it into the egg, and bring it back to the classroom. They would then open and share their new life symbols and surprises one by one.

It was glorious. It was confusing. It was wild. They ran all around the church grounds, gathering their symbols, and returned to the classroom. They put all the eggs on a table, and then the teacher began to open them. All the children stood around the table.

He opened one, and there was a flower, and they oohed and aahed. He opened another, and there was a little butterfly. “Beautiful,” the girls all said, since it is hard for eight-year-old boys to say “beautiful.” He opened another, and there was a rock. And as third graders will, some laughed, and some said, “That’s crazy! How’s a rock supposed to be like new life?” But the smart little boy who’d found it spoke up: “That’s mine. And I knew all of you would get flowers and buds and leaves and butterflies and stuff like that. So I got a rock because I wanted to be different. And for me, that’s new life.” They all laughed.

My teacher friend said something to himself about the profundity of eight-year-olds and opened the next one. There was nothing there. The other children, as eight-year-olds will, said, “That’s not fair—That’s stupid!—Somebody didn’t do it right.”

Then my teacher friend felt a tug on his shirt, and he looked down. Philip was standing beside him. “It’s mine,” Philip said. “It’s mine.”

And the children said, “You don’t ever do things right, Philip. There’s nothing there!”

“I did so do it,” Philip said. “I did do it. It’s empty. The tomb is empty!

There was silence, a very full silence. And for you people who don’t believe in miracles, I want to tell you that one happened that day last spring. From that time on, it was different. Philip suddenly became a part of that group of eight-year-old children. They took him in. He was set free from the tomb of his differentness.

Philip died last summer. His family had known since the time he was born that he wouldn’t live out a full life span. Many other things had been wrong with his tiny body. And so, late last July, with an infection that most normal children could have quickly shrugged off, Philip died. The mystery simply enveloped him.

At the funeral, nine eight-year-old children marched up to the altar, not with flowers to cover the stark reality of death. Nine eight-year-olds, with their Sunday school teacher, marched right up to that altar, and laid on it an empty egg—an empty, old, discarded, pantyhose egg.

Your Story

Share some of your favorite Easter memories.
• Parents can share about Easter memories from their childhood. Children and teens can share memories from recent Easters.
• What has been the most meaningful Easter in your life? What made that Easter special or memorable?
• Talk about how and why an empty, plastic Easter Egg represents the true meaning of Easter.
• What has helped you this year to make Easter important and meaningful?

The Bible Story

In the Easter story in the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene stands outside the tomb of Jesus with so many thoughts and emotions churning inside her. She was lonely—Jesus was no longer with her. Mary was afraid—what would life be like without Jesus? She was sad—totally consumed with grief at the death of her good friend, Jesus. She was also hopeless, for Mary simply could not envision a future without her faithful leader and friend. But most of all, Mary Magdalene was confused. “Where is Jesus’ body? What has happened to him? Who took his body?” And at the height of her confusion, Mary looks back inside the tomb, desperately looking for some answers to her many questions.

And that’s when it happened! Suddenly, Jesus was standing right in front of Mary. Jesus—the one she desperately wanted to see—is with her face to face.

But scripture says that Mary did not recognize Jesus. Even when Mary couldn’t find Jesus, Jesus found her.

The Good News is that the life we seek:
• Is not in knowing, but in being known
• Is not in searching, but in being sought
• Is not in finding, but in being found.

Discussion Questions

• Who moved the stone away from the front of the tomb? Why did the women go to the tomb if they knew the stone would be blocking the entrance?
• Why was Mary crying? What made her sad? Why didn’t she recognize Jesus? What made her think he was the gardener?
• What made Mary think that someone had taken Jesus’ body away?
• Why couldn’t Mary hug Jesus? Where had Jesus been since his death three days ago?
• Why did they go home? What would you have done if you were Mary or the disciples?
• What does it mean to you that Jesus is alive instead of dead?

Prayer and Action

• Thank God for the resurrection of Jesus.
• Thank God for finding us, forgiving us, and saving us.
• Ask God to help you every day to live for the Risen Christ.
• Talk as a family about how you can share your faith with others this week.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

Kevin Head began serving as Minister to Young Families at First Baptist Roswell, Georgia, in February 2012. He has pastored three churches in Kentucky and more recently served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lumberton, North Carolina. In 2007, Kevin and his wife, Amy, began a ministry-based counseling practice called New Perspectives for Life in East Cobb, Georgia. He is a graduate of Furman University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ph.D., M.Div.) in Louisville, Kentucky. Kevin was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Belvedere, South Carolina. His model of ministry is based on John 8 and the amazing, continual grace of Jesus Christ. Kevin and Amy have two children, Jenna and Joshua.

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