Summary: The inspiration for this message came from a fellow sermon central contributor...Some things ARE Empty at Easter.
Empty At Easter”
* Christ is Risen! What a message! Easter is Resurrection Day!
* Can you imagine what that first day was like? As the buzz of excitement filled the air, it was obvious that something unusual had taken place, yet no one seem to have a handle on it. There was a flurry of activity from the very people who were too afraid to be seen or heard after the violent activities of the week. Surely something had happened, but what was it?
* The celebration of the resurrection has continue for all these years because despite all the concerted efforts to disprove it, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead stands because it has withstood the scrutiny of one investigation after another. Secular professors of history & archeology who have set out to disprove the fact of the resurrection have come away with the clear testimony that history is an ally of the resurrection. Think about it in terms of today: Jesus was dead, He was buried, & has now risen from the dead! I submit that if Christ can rise from the dead, you and I can trust Him with the problems of our lives.
* When we think of Easter, we think of things being full. First, most of the Easter baskets were full this morning. Next, church buildings all over have a larger crowd than normal. Then, the choir is filled, music is full, lunch will fill our stomachs, and many houses will be filled with our earthly family. It is a day of being filled.
* Yet, Easter also brings with it some things that are EMPTY. When we hear the word empty, we think of something that is lacking (i.e. gas tank, plate, bank account, class, etc) or something that is without. So today, let's consider the subject of being “Empty at Easter” and let's do it in 2 slices.
1. The First Easter – In our text we discover that (as we have already mentioned) the day seem to have an unusual 'air' about it. The ladies were up before dawn headed to a grave. I can only imagine the emptiness they felt as they journeyed toward the tomb of their beloved Jesus. Hearts that were filled with love for this one they had called “Lord” were now broken until all that flowed out was hurt, anguish, and pain. Now, as the sun rose and they journeyed toward the tomb think about all they saw.
a) Empty Cross – As they headed toward the grave of Jesus, quite likely, daylight began to break as they walked passed the place of the crucifixion. It was located on a hillside (in my mind's eye on their right side) called “Golgotha” which means the place of the skull. This was an ominous looking place as the hill resembled a skull. As they looked on the hill, quite likely, were those three crosses still in place (well, at least the stapes or the perpendicular pole). The picture served as a reminder of the events 3 days earlier and possibly their tears began to flow once again. Yet, that the cross is empty reminds you and me that the wages of sin is death that without the shedding of blood there is not forgiveness of sin, and that when we were sinners Christ died for us. He died in my place. The cross is empty because Jesus died.
* Can you see the empty cross? The cross that was filled with God's own Son who came to die in my place was empty that first Easter morning. But that is not all, let's follow the ladies. Perhaps the tears flowed as they looked at the cross & remembered the violent events of three days earlier. Fresh tears begin to flow down their cheeks at the thought of it. They were so focused on taking care of Jesus it seems they have forgotten that to anoint Him for burial they had to deal with the two-ton boulder covering the entrance.
b) Empty Grave – When they arrived what they discovered was nothing shy of amazing! Matthew's account give us the impression they felt the earthquake and almost saw the stone roll away while the other 3 accounts agree that the stone was rolled away when they at the tomb. Can you really imagine the emotions going through their minds first, when they saw the stone was rolled away? How about the going inside the cave part? Or seeing a 'young man in a long white robe' and hearing him speak? Is anybody spooked yet? Years ago, I worked in a funeral home. People don't normally walk into an open grave and they walk UP to that grave with caution. But none of these truths are the 'big tamale', the deal s Jesus was GONE! The young man said, “He is not here.” For those who are skeptics consider this; had Jesus not been alive someone would have told the truth. The soldiers would have spilled the beans when they talked with religious leaders. The Romans government and the religious leaders would have produced the body when the rumor got out that Jesus was alive. The disciples would have told the truth when they were being tortured and killed. Yet, witness testimony and historical evidence points to the truth that Jesus is alive, the gave is empty, and death has been defeated. When I think of the verse which says, “O death where is your sting and grave where is your victory” I am reminded that our Lord has won the won the war and as the winner He transfers the victory to me when come to Him. 1 Corinthians 15:3 and following says, “Christ died for our sins according to the scripture, was buried, and was raised on the third day.” Up from the Grave HE AROSE! With a mighty triumph o'er His foes. He arose and the grave is empty and because the grave I have reason to rejoice!