Summary: Whatever people may say about death, they know in their bones that death doesn’t end it all! But on Easter we celebrate the end of that fear! We celebrate an empty tomb!
"Celebrating the Empty Tomb"
Lord God, our Father, by the power that raised your Son Jesus from the dead, turn our lives around so that we might see and know Him as our Living Lord and Savior. Awake in us a constant awareness of His living presence – forgiving us our sins and giving us real life by your grace. Fill our lives with joy on this Easter morning – with joy of resurrection by faith in Your Son, Jesus, that we all may know and have the power of His resurrection in our own lives. In His victorious name we pray. Amen.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! A joyous, blessed Easter day to each and every one of you! What a glorious message we have today! And we’re here this morning to hear the Word and to proclaim to each other the Good News that the dawn of resurrection and new life has broken and that the night of death has been overcome! Isn’t that the reason we’re here today? We’re here – gathered together to celebrate an empty tomb and that death no longer has any power over us!
Now, we all know that that contradicts all logic and reason! I mean, anyone can see that the earth is just one huge cemetery. All you have to do to convince yourself of that fact is to just look around! Trees die here – sometimes after holding their heads high for hundreds of years – they finally fall to the ground. Animals die here after only a few years, and their bones lie glistening in the sun. Insects die here by the millions – often only a few days or hours after they’ve come into being. Death is here everywhere for everything!
People die here too! We’re born into this world for a short time and for most of us we’re gone before a century is done. We mark each others graves – try to preserve the graves, but even the graves eventually disappear. It’s a strong fact that death is here for everyone without exception!
On this coming April 15th we’re going to be reminded that nothing is as certain as death or taxes. Someone commented on that and said that "the taxes aren’t so bad when you consider the alternative!" "The wages of sin," the Bible says, "is death..." That’s the real reason why people die. Whatever people may think and say about death, they know in their bones that death doesn’t end it all. That’s why people fear it so much! And their fears are confirmed by God’s Word which says, "...man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."
But today we celebrate the end of that fear! We celebrate an empty tomb! God sent His sinless Son, Jesus, to share our flesh and blood with all the limitations that each of us have as human beings. He came to take our place and to fulfill what all of us find impossible to fulfill. And His purpose was that through His death on the cross, He would break the power of Satan, who had the power of death. And by His resurrection to deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying (Heb. 2:14-15).
The Lord Jesus Christ went through everything that we have to go through. And for us, He even met that final enemy – death, head-on! But He emerged triumphant! They pulled His lifeless body down from the cross and carried it into the tomb. But on the third day, He walked out of that tomb, the risen, victorious Son of God – just as the angel had said to the women: "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying."
ONLY CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE AN EMPTY TOMB!
In his book Therefore Stand, Wilbur Smith points out that of all the religions of the world – those that are based on personalities and philosophies – the only one that talks about an open and empty tomb is Christianity. Abraham, regarded by the Jews as the father of their faith, died 2000 years before Christ. Although he died with faith in God’s promises – he himself could lay no claim of his own to have power over death. In fact, his tomb is still carefully preserved in Hebron in southern Palestine. In the sacred books of Buddhism, it says that when Buddha died it was "with that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind." Mohammed, the founder of Islam died at Medina in 632 AD and that’s where he’s buried. All of their bones lie in the dust of death! Even Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement – a theosophical cult – who claimed that there was no such thing as death, lies buried in a tomb outside of Boston, where thousands of her followers visit her grave.