There was a custom in the family that when someone was about to graduate, the parents would give him/her a car. It was the youngest son’s turn and a few weeks before the graduation, he and his dad went looking at cars. They found the perfect one. On the night before graduation the family held a party and dad gave his son a gift wrapped bible. ‘Here is your present son’. The son was confused. He took the bible and said, ‘What is this? I thought my gift was the car!’ Before dad could say anything else, the son threw the bible on the floor and stormed out. He never saw his father again.
It was the news of his father’s death that brought him home again.
As he sat one night going through his father’s possessions that he was to inherit, he come across the Bible his father had given him.
He brushed away the dust and opened it to find a cheque, dated the day of his graduation – for the exact amount of the car they had chosen together.
I wonder how many people in this world have done the same thing to God? Literally tossed aside a wonderful promise, because they didn’t understand it, or they didn’t believe that it was possible.
In our world, we are taught that; “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.” We are so wary of anything or anyone that tells us we can have something for nothing.
THE WORLD SIMPLY DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY!
But God does! God never made a promise that was too good to be true. Easter shows this.
The world is full of empty promises. We watch TV, and the advertisements tell us that we can be happy, rich, or famous, if we buy this or subscribe to that. Thing is, we know that this isn’t true – money can’t buy us all that we need. We know that these are empty promises. But God is different. Instead of promises full of emptiness, on Easter, he gave us emptiness that is full of promise.
I want us to think about three promises of Easter. Each promise is marked by something empty. An empty cross, and empty tomb and empty burial clothes. It is the very fact that each of these is empty that assures us that God’s promises are real.
Promise #1. The Empty Cross…
We begin with the empty cross. Because the cross was empty, we have the promise of being forgiven.
It is early morning. The women are on their way to the tomb where Jesus was buried. They are going to anoint the body of Jesus. I can imagine, as they come to the top of a rise in the path, they all stop and they stare off in the distance.
Maybe, just outside the city stands a reminder of the events of just a few days ago. Silhouetted on top of the Hill, 3 Crosses. Yesterday was the Sabbath, so nobody had yet removed them. So, there they stand, an empty reminder of the horror of Friday.
The one in the middle, that’s the one that Jesus hung on.
Jesus was dead! There was no question – Jesus was dead.
· The soldiers knew it
· The Romans knew it
· The Jews knew it
You see, Jesus really did die. The cross marks the spot. But today, it is empty. Empty of Jesus’ body, but full of God’s promises. Full of hope – for you and me. Jesus is alive!!! The whole of the Christian faith and belief depends on this one fact. Jesus died but rose again and is alive! That is the promise of the empty cross.
The empty cross is the promise that as Jesus lives, so will we. The things that separate us from God – the sin in our lives that stops us from knowing for certain that God is alive – has been dealt with. Do you believe that? The empty cross is the symbol of the love God has for us. That one act in time and space has made it possible for me to be forgiven, for you to be forgiven, and to know the living Lord.
Promise #2. The empty tomb…
The 2nd promise comes with the empty tomb. When the women reach the tomb they find the stone rolled away.
And suddenly they see two men in dazzling clothes.
“Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who has been crucified. He is not here; He has risen!” Luke 24:5
Jesus had risen – He was alive – the tomb was empty. And what a promise that holds.
Just before Easter the Sunday School teacher gave each child a plastic egg, that opened. The children were to find a symbol for new life and put it into the egg. The children went away and the next week the eggs were opened one at a time. There were small flowers, a butterfly, grass, seeds, but the last egg was empty. It belonged to a small boy. When he was asked, he said that it was like Jesus’ tomb – empty – Jesus had come to new life!
The empty tomb is the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise to every one of us that we too will be raised to eternal life.
To those who know this promise in their hearts, who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, death has lost its sting – it is no longer something to be feared.
Why was the tomb empty? Because Jesus was alive – The Angel said; “He is risen.” Not resuscitated but resurrected! And the promise to us is that we too can live even if we die. That is the second promise of Easter.
Promise #3. The empty grave clothes…
But, it doesn’t end there. There is one more promise. It is the promise of the empty burial clothes.
Back to our story. After the Angel had spoken to the women, they immediately went back to the Apostles and reported what had happened. With this incredible news, Peter immediately raced back to the tomb to see for himself. When he got there, he found the clothes that Jesus had been buried in. They too were empty. This could only mean one thing – Jesus was alive! If someone had stolen his body, they wouldn’t have removed the burial clothes and folded them up neatly and left them where they lay. Truly, Jesus was resurrected!
It wouldn’t be long, before Jesus, himself would appear to him and his friends.
sit down with them, walk with them, talk with them, eat with them.
Once again, they would be able to fellowship with their Lord. You see, that is the promise of the empty burial clothes – The promise of a New Life, a Fulfilled Life. Jesus had no need for the old grave clothes because he had been transformed; he had a new life; a resurrected, eternal life. He had new clothes to wear!
The promise for us is also that transformed, new, fulfilled life, a life where we don’t need to wear the clothes of this world – its values, morals and world view – but instead we wear the clothes Jesus gives us to see the world through his eyes and be the people He wants and needs us to be.
Do you know him?..
Jesus isn’t some “force” out in the universe influencing people. He is a living Saviour, and he wants us – you and me to know him. Think about that – the cross couldn’t hold him, the tomb couldn’t contain him, the burial clothes were unnecessary, because Jesus is alive! He has skin and bones and a face and was recognizable. And he talked, and touched and loved and healed. He did it the day of his resurrection, and he does it still today. And – most importantly – he wants to do it with you and with me.
I want to ask you a very important question this morning. Do you know Jesus Christ? I don’t mean; “do you know about him?” Do you truly know Jesus Christ.
You can know Jesus Christ. You can know his love, his care, his healing, and his forgiveness. He says; “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
It has been 2000 years since Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
That 1st Easter Sunday, as the women went to the tomb, they had no idea what was about to happen to them. They were not yet aware of the wonderful promises of that day.
· Off in the distance stood an empty cross – the promise that their sins were forgiven.
· At the end of their journey was an empty tomb – the promise of their eternal life.
· Inside the tomb were empty burial clothes. The promise of a new transformed life with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ – their living Saviour.
The promises that they discovered that day, we too can have today;.
At Easter, more than any other time of the year, we realize that God has made all sorts of amazing promises. So amazing, that some of us cannot bring ourselves to believe. Or, can we?
My question to you this morning is this; will you take him at his word? If so, listen to this final promise – it is found in Romans 10:13:
“for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Today, if you have never accepted God’s promises for your life, then maybe today of all days, is the day you do so.
just think about these promises of Jesus.
He is alive
He will forgive
You can be transformed.
You may want to say this prayer for yourself.
Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for this day and your resurrection.
I know that I have thought, said and done things that are wrong.
There are so many good things I haven’t done
There are so many wrong things I have done
I know these are the things that stop me fully knowing you. I am sorry and turn from everything I know to be wrong.
You gave your life for me on the cross. Today I give my life back to you.
I ask you to come into my life; come as my Saviour and my Lord.