Summary: The world's promises are truly empty - they are full of emptiness. But in this Easter sermon, we examine the emptiness that is full of promise. There is amazing promise in the empty cross, the empty tomb, and the empty burial cloths.
A. The late Paul Harvey, who died in 2009, was a famous radio broadcaster for the ABC Radio Networks.
1. He broadcasted “News and Comment” on weekday mornings and mid-days, and was most famous for his The Rest of the Story segments.
2. Allow me to tell one of his true life stories.
B. Paul Harvey told the story of a boy named Philip.
1. He was 9 – in a Sunday school class of 8-year-olds. Eight-year-olds can be cruel.
a. The third-graders did not welcome Philip into their group.
b. Not just because he was older. He was “different.” He suffered from Down’s syndrome and its obvious manifestations: facial characteristics, slow responses, symptoms of retardation.
2. One Sunday after Easter the Sunday school teacher gathered some of those plastic eggs that pull apart in the middle.
a. The Sunday school teacher gave one of these plastic eggs to each child.
b. On that beautiful spring day each child was to go outdoors and discover for himself some symbol of “new life” and place that symbolic seed or leaf or whatever inside his egg.
c. They would then open their eggs one by one, and each youngster would explain how his find was a symbol of “new life.”
3. So out they went into the church yard, and after a little while, the youngsters gathered around and put their eggs on a table, and the teacher began to open them.
a. One child found a flower. All the children “oohed” and “aahed” at the lovely symbol of new life.
b. In another was a butterfly. “Beautiful,” the girls said.
c. Another egg was opened to reveal a rock. Some of the children laughed. “That’s crazy” one said. “How’s a rock supposed to be like a ‘new life’?”
d. Immediately a little boy spoke up and said, “That’s mine. I knew everybody would get flowers and leaves and butterflies and all that stuff, so I got a rock to be different.” Everyone laughed.
4. The teacher opened the last one, and there was nothing inside.
a. “That’s not fair,” someone said. “That’s stupid,” said another.
b. The teacher felt a tug on his shirt. It was Philip.
c. Looking up he said, “It’s mine. I did do it. It’s empty. I have new life because the tomb is empty.”
d. The class fell silent.
5. From that day on Philip became a part of the group.
a. They welcomed him. Whatever had made him different was never mentioned again.
6. Philip’s family had known he would not live a long life: just too many things wrong with the tiny body.
a. That summer, overcome by infection, Philip died.
b. On the day of his funeral nine 8-year-old boy and girls confronted the reality of death and marched up to the altar—not with flowers.
c. Nine children with their Sunday school teacher placed on the casket of their friend their gift of love—an empty egg – the symbol of eternal life.
C. Today I want us to think about the promises of Easter.