Jeremy was 12 years old and still in the second grade. He was born with a twisted body and a slow mind, but an infectious smile. In the fall of the year when school started, Jeremy had his difficulties. He would squirm in his seat, sometimes drool and often make grunting noises. However at other times, he spoke clearly and sat completely still just as if from time to time a ray of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, he just irritated his teacher, Mrs. Miller.
One day, Mrs. Miller, along with the Principal, called in Jeremy's parents for a consultation. It was explained to them that it just wasn't working out with Jeremy in class. He really needed a school that could better meet his needs. Jeremy's father explained that there wasn't any such school nearby and that Jeremy would have to be sent some distance away to find such a school. Jeremy's mother simply cried. They all decided to put the issue on hold for a while and afterwards Mrs. Miller pondered the whole thing. She certainly understood their frustration and the situation. She also quietly thanked God that her problems were quite small and insignificant compared to Jeremy's parents. After all, this was their only child, and from what she understood, his physical condition was terminal. But it really wasn't fair to keep Jeremy in the class. He already was five years older than the rest of the students and he would never learn to read or write.
After the Christmas holidays and as spring was approaching, Jeremy one day got out of his seat and limped to Mrs. Miller's desk. Everyone looked and wondered what was going on. All of a sudden, Jeremy just blurted out, "Mrs. Miller, I love you." The kids all laughed and Mrs. Miller turned as red as a tomato. She quickly diffused the situation and asked Jeremy to return to his seat.
Every spring, Mrs. Miller would share with the class about Easter and this year was no different. She thought it important that all the children knew about Jesus, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It was back in the days when it bothered no one. And each year she would bring plastic Easter eggs for each student. She explained to the class, all 21 of them that they were to each take home one plastic egg. "Now bring your egg back tomorrow with something inside the egg that represented spring and new life," Mrs. Miller explained. She tried her best to make sure everyone understood the assignment, especially Jeremy. However, she thought she better call his parents later that day to explain to them what she wanted Jeremy to do.
Well, as things usually go, Mrs. Miller got busy and completely forgot to call Jeremy's parents until the next morning when twenty-one students came in to class carrying their plastic eggs. Jeremy also had his egg. After they completed their English and Math lessons, Mrs. Miller said it was time to share about their plastic eggs. Everyone was excited. Jeremy just sat there and stared. Mrs. Miller was worried that he had not understood the assignment and was concerned about what was in Jeremy's egg. She did not want him to be embarrassed or humiliated. Doris was the first person to open and share her egg. Inside it was a flower Doris had found. Billy shared his egg next and showed everybody a plastic butterfly he had found at home. Judy showed her egg next and had found a rock with moss on it, which was quite creative. So far these three had shown examples of spring and new life. Mrs. Miller reached for the next egg and Jeremy's eyes lit up and exclaimed, "That's my egg." However, Mrs. Miller shook the egg and could tell there was nothing inside it. She tried to put it off to the side, but Jeremy insisted, "Open my egg, Mrs. Miller, please."
Mrs. Miller slowly opened Jeremy's egg and sure enough it was completely empty. Not knowing what to do and not wanting to make a big scene, she simply thought Jeremy hadn't understood the assignment. She said it was nice and tried to quietly slip the egg to the side hoping not too much commotion would arise. "Mrs. Miller, aren't you going to share my egg and talk about it?" Jeremy asked. Flustered, Mrs. Miller replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty." Excitedly, Jeremy explained to her and to the entire class, "Of course it's empty, but wasn't Jesus' tomb empty, too?" Time stopped. He had been listening and he certainly understood the assignment. Mrs. Miller asked him, "Jeremy, do you know why the tomb was empty?" "Oh yes," Jeremy shouted out, "Jesus died on the cross for our sins and the was buried there, but three days later, he rose again and the tomb is empty."
That evening, Mrs. Miller went home and cried. Not tears of sadness but tears of great joy. Jeremy had the capacity to learn. Three months later, Jeremy died. At his funeral, everyone was surprised to see twenty plastic eggs laying on top of his casket. ALL OF THEM EMPTY. May each of you have a great Easter season.
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