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.
1. It is easy to make promises, but it is hard to keep them.
2. We have grown cynical about promises that people and companies make, because they are often empty promises.
3. Many promises that people and companies make are just too good to be true.
4. We watch TV, and advertisements tell us that we can be happy, sexy, rich, or famous, if we will buy and use a certain product.
5. It doesn’t take too long for us to learn that the world’s promises are truly empty – they rarely deliver what they promise.
6. But God is different.
a. God never made a promise that is too good to be true.
b. God never made a promise that He does not keep.
D. I want to employ a little play on words by naming this sermon The “Empty” Promises of Easter.
1. The world’s promises are truly empty promises – they are full of emptiness.
2. What I want us to see in Easter is the emptiness that is full of promise.
3. Let’s take a look at the promise that is found in the empty cross, the empty tomb and the empty burial clothes.
I. The Empty Cross
A. Let’s go back to that Friday before the resurrection.
1. On Thursday evening, Jesus had celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples in an upper room a day early.
2. That night they went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed, and then was arrested.
3. Through the night he faced several mock trials by the Jewish leaders, was condemned by them and was sent to the Roman Governor.
4. Pilate really didn’t know what to do with Jesus, because he considered him innocent, but in order to keep his job and pacify the Jewish leaders, he handed Jesus over to be crucified.