Summary: the difference between politician's empty promises and God's empty promises.
The Empty Promises of Easter
We are in the midst of another political season. A season filled with all kinds of promises to all kinds of groups. Promises to reform this, fix that, build a wall , give you free college and healthcare, and support this value system or that value system. You name the topic and some politician somewhere has made a promise about it. Raise your hand if you really believe our politicians will keep all those promises they made on the campaign trail. Hmm, not many hands up. We’ve seen enough to know most of those promises are empty promises.
When it comes to Easter, God gave us some empty promises too. Only these empty promises are a little different than those of politicians. As we think of Easter we see the promise of an empty cross, an empty tomb, and some empty burial clothes. Those are good empty promises. This morning let’s look at what those empty promises mean to us.
I. The Empty Cross
A. The Bible setting
1. It’s been a tumultuous weekend. Thursday night Jesus was taken away by the Temple guard, a trial ensued, lies told, threats made and finally on Friday Jesus was crucified on a cross. This is Sunday. The women are walking towards the tomb where Jesus was buried hoping to convince the Roman guards to let them in to put new spices over his body. It gives them one final chance to say goodbye. Maybe that road to the tomb led them past Golgotha, the hill where Jesus and two thieves were crucified. Maybe they simply thought about that hill on the way to the tomb. The hill that still held 3 empty crosses.
2. That middle cross is the one they are concerned with though. The one that had held a man they loved dearly, but now he is dead and they are heading to his tomb.
3. Oh he is dead alright. A soldier had run a spear into his side to make sure.
4. They watched Joseph and Nicodemus claim his body and take to the tomb.
5. Their hearts are aching. Broken. Jesus is dead.
B. The promise of the empty cross
1. Sin – It’s a word we don’t like to use. It sounds so… bad.
2. Maybe it’s because it is!
3. We don’t like to think of ourselves as bad. Misguided, fallen, maybe even mistaken, but sinful? Bad? Surely not me Lord.
4. The cross is about our sin and our inability to do anything about it.
5. The cross is about the consequences of our failures.
6. Yet, that cross is a promise as well as a consequence.
7. The cross is about the Love of God for each and every one of us.
8. The promise of the cross is that God has forgiven us.
9. Rom 5:8 tells us, “"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
10. I always have mixed emotions whenever I see a crucifix. I understand it’s to remind us of the sacrifice of Jesus.
11. But the more powerful symbol should be the empty cross because Jesus didn’t stay there!
12. God promised us an empty cross, and he kept his promise
II. The Empty Tomb
A. Bible setting
1. Let’s look again at the story of that first Easter.
2. Vs 1 says it was very early in the morning that they headed out for the tomb.
3. Why? Were they hoping no one would see them?
4. Maybe, but more than likely that was the first chance they would have had to go to the tomb after the Sabbath.
5. The Jewish day was from Sunrise to Sunset, so they wouldn’t be allowed to “work” until sunrise of the day after the Sabbath.
6. The very first thing these devout women wanted to do was tend to the body of their Lord. They were in for a surprise.
7. They weren’t expecting an empty tomb. The resurrection story in Mark indicates they were discussing how they were going to get the stone moved so they could tend to Jesus.
8. They get to the tomb and something is strange. The Roman guards that were supposed to be there weren’t. On top of that the stone was already rolled away. You know when they entered the tomb they had to be thinking something was up.
9. They were right, on one side stand 2 men in white clothes that gleamed like lightening. I think the safe bet we say they were angels.
10. I love the irony in verses 5 and 6. “why are you seeking the living among the dead?
a) What are you supposed to find in a tomb? Dead people, right?