What would you like written on your tombstone?
Maybe you’ve already given some thought as to what your epitaph should be. Perhaps you’d like a mention of your accomplishments or family ties.
You might even hope that something humorous be inscribed on your gravestone, as in the following examples:
“I told you I was sick.” (Written on the gravestone of William H. Hahn, Jr., of Princeton, New Jersey.)
“Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs from a 44, No Les, No more.” (An actual epitaph in the Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona.)
“There goes the neighborhood.” (Epitaph of self-deprecating comedian Rodney Dangerfield.)
“Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake. Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.” (On the tombstone of an accident victim in Unionville, Pennsylvania.)
“Here lies John Yeast. Pardon me for not rising.” (This cheeky epitaph is on a grave in Ruidoso, New Mexico.)
What was written on Christ’s tombstone? Any guesses?
Because He didn’t stay in the tomb for very long and isn’t there now.
Jesus was only a temporary resident in the dark chamber in which He lay.
Unlike John Yeast, Jesus did rise.
Three days after His crucifixion, He came to life again and walked out of that tomb, never to return.
His resurrection put a screeching halt to the mourning rituals of His family and friends. Their grief turned to astonished joy as they realized that Jesus was alive and walking among them once again.
If a headstone engraver had been starting to chisel Jesus’ name in the rock, he might only have had time to finish the “J” before someone yelled, “Stop the presses! He’s come back to life!”
Someone who’s alive certainly doesn’t need a gravestone!
The empty tomb is crucial to Christianity. Without the bodily resurrection of our Saviour, our faith falls apart.
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 28:6)
Jesus’ rising from the dead proved that everything He said about Himself was true. Jesus is who He said He was: the Saviour of mankind, the Messiah.
His resurrection sets Him apart from the founders of other faiths, because His tomb is empty while theirs are not. They have epitaphs because they have gravestones.
If Jesus has an “epitaph” at all perhaps it’s the love that is written in the hearts of His billions of followers. The grateful ones He redeemed from a life of sin. The ones who call Him Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The ones who know they worship a living God.
Because Jesus not only rose from the dead that day about 2,000 years ago, He is still alive right now!
“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:18)
So the headstone engraver had no need to carve an epitaph for Jesus. But he did have some work to do after all on that resurrection day.
There was an epitaph he still needed to complete: one for Satan.
© 2023 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.