by Pastor Glenn Davis
I would like us to think about the promises of Easter. There are three of them. Each promise is marked by something empty. An empty cross, and empty tomb and empty burial clothes.
The twist is the fact that each of these “empties” assures us that God’s promises are “full, real, and fact.” Why? Because they couldn’t hold Jesus, because He couldn’t be contained by the cross, or the tomb, or His burial clothes, therefore we can be sure of the fullness of God’s promises in our lives.
Let’s go back, to that 1st Easter Morning. It is early morning – dawn – but the sun has not risen. A few of Jesus’ followers – women – are on their way to the tomb where Jesus was buried. They have been walking now for about ½ hour. The conversation is slow. The task before them is a sad one. They are going to anoint the body of Jesus. As they come to the top of a rise in the path, they all stop. Motionless and quiet, they stare at something.
As you look with them, off to the right stands a ghastly reminder of the events of just a few days ago. Do you see it?
Over there, silhouetted by the glow of the pink sky, on top of the Hill the locals call, “The Skull.” Can you see the 3 Crosses.
Yesterday was the Sabbath, so nobody had yet removed them. So, there they stand, an empty reminder of the horror of what happened on Friday. The one in the middle, that is the one that I want you to see. That’s the one that Jesus hung on.
Take a close look at it. Look up at the top – Your eyes go to the top of the cross, you see the bloodstains from the crown of thorns that was crushed into Jesus’ skull. The stains on the ends of the crossbar and the bottom of the post – which came from the nails that were driven into His hands and feet. The main beam – it was soaked in blood – blood from His back – blood from the beating the Roman soldiers gave Him with that nasty whip with the metal in it. It also has stains from the blood that poured from His side when another Roman soldier ran a spear through Him to see if He was dead – AND HE WAS.
- The soldiers knew it.
- The Romans knew it.
- The Jews knew it.
Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you Jesus was just faking it. There was no question – Jesus was dead.
You know there have been many theories to try and explain away the Resurrection. None are worth anything, and perhaps the stupidest one is that the Romans wanted people to believe that the disciples stole the body (Matt 28:11-15). Yea right!
The disciples stole the body while the guards were asleep.
- Sure maybe 100 or more guards asleep at the same time?
- If they were asleep and did not wake up when the huge stone was rolled away then how would they know the disciples stole the body?
- Besides this is also very unlikely, because falling asleep would mean a terrible death for the whole unit.
Also some people try to claim that the Jews or the Romans stole the body. But since neither group wanted the story of the resurrection being spread, proving Jesus was Divine, then why in the world would they steal the body?
The promise of the empty cross is that you and I can be forgiven. Because it was on that cross that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.
“SIN” – now there is a word that is just not popular. It’s a word that isn’t “politically correct.” But, the simple fact of the matter is – we have all sinned. Every one of us – you, me, the person sitting next to you, behind you and in front of you. Romans 3:23,
- “for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.”
The only person who has ever lived a sinless life is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Everyone else has failed.
So, here is the problem – according to God’s law, Paul writes in Rom 6:23,
- The wages of sin is death.
Without Jesus, we have all sinned and deserve God’s just punishment. We deserve an “eternal death” so the unsaved will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire also known Hell.
However, when you look at that empty cross – it is a reminder of God’s promise that we can be forgiven. On that cross – Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.
God’s word tells us again in Rom 5:8,
- But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So the first promise of Easter is the “empty cross” – filled with the promise of forgiven sins.
Let’s get back to our ladies now. After pausing briefly to view the cross, they continue on their way down the path to the tomb. As they go, one of them wonders aloud – “who will move the two ton stone for us?”
Suddenly, they feel the earth move! Frightened, they look at each other, not certain what to do. After a few minutes, things seem normal so they continue on their way. As they approach the burial site, they are still wondering about what had happened when they come upon something even more remarkable.
- The soldiers are all unconscious.
- The stone has been moved.
- An angel – glowing like lightening – is sitting on the stone.
And listen to the angels words, Matt 28:5-6
- But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Jesus had risen – He was alive – the tomb was empty. And what a tremendous promise that holds.
For, in the fact of 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 Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, death has lost its sting – it is no longer something to be feared. What fear is there when we have the promise that one day we will live forever with Him in Heaven?
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 and John immediately raced back to the tomb to see for themselves. When they got there, John stopped just outside the tomb, but Peter ran right in. It didn’t take them long to discover that the tomb was just the way the women had said it was – empty.
But, that’s not all. Inside, Peter found the clothes that Jesus had been buried in. They too were empty, this was special. If the body was stolen the cloths were needed. This could only mean one thing – Jesus was alive! He has Risen!
More proof, it wouldn’t be long, before Jesus, Himself would appear to Mary Magdalene, and to all of the Apostles, and eventually to over 500 people. Jesus would,
Think about that – the cross couldn’t hold Him, the tomb couldn’t contain Him, the burial clothes were unnecessary, because Jesus is alive!
I want to ask you a very important question. Do you know Jesus Christ? I don’t mean; “do you know about Him?” Do you truly know Jesus Christ as your Savior?
It has been nearly 2000 years since Jesus was crucified, buried and rose again. That 1st Easter Sunday, as the women went to the grave, 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 that they would once again have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ – their living Savior.
The promises that they discovered that day, you too can have today;
- You too can know the freedom of forgiven sins.
- You too can know the promise of eternal life in heaven.
- You too can know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
My question to you this is this; will you give Jesus a chance, will you take Jesus at His word?
If so, listen to this final promise – it is found in Romans 10:13 ,
- For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.“
Don’t wait another day, do it today, and know the joy of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
I trust the Lord will truly bless each on of you this Easter.
Pastor Glenn Davis
The River City Christian Fellowship Church
381 4th Street
Priest River, Idaho
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