Empty At Easter

Bible Book: Mark  15 : 42
Subject: Resurrection; Tomb, Empty

Mark 15:42-16:8

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.

I. 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!

c) Empty Clothes

It is John alone who says, “We saw His clothes lying there.” Why was it that John thought this important? We really don't know, but may suggest that Jesus left His earthly clothes empty because He left His earthly struggles behind. Perhaps He took off His burial clothes like one day His children will discard this fleshly body! When I see those grave clothes I am reminded of the shell which the body of Jesus was placed in & am reminded that these bodies are but bars of clay which will one day be gone. Almost every week we either have someone or know of a family dealing with the physical death of a loved one. This old body has given out and was used up. Jesus' clothes were used up. He was ready for something better. IN His case, He was returning to the Heavenly Father and Home. For us, it's different.

· The pictures of the empty cross, tomb, and clothes, serve as a reminder that God can take tragedy and turn it into triumph. He did it that first Easter and will do it again for you and me on;

II. The Final Easter

Consider this question; what if today was your final Easter. It could be exactly that. A year ago my wife and I had fairly healthy parents, today; half of them have left this world. Some will say, “But they were older.” However, almost every week we hear stories of young people being sick unto death. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Candidly, there is not ‘one’ prophecy which stands in the way of Jesus’ return. Any minute the trumpet-call of God could sound, what if it were today? You see, Jesus didn’t just die on a cross for our sins, He didn’t simply come back to life from the dead to make us right before the Father, it was no simple matter to ascend before 500 into heaven where He has sat down at the right hand of the Father (He is the Father’s strong right hand), ONE DAY, He will split the Sky to call only those who know HIM home.

(SONG – Midnight Cry) The call of our Lord for His redeemed Children to come home is called the midnight cry based of the story of Virgins in Matthew 25. The scripture says, “But at midnight (or in the middle of the night) the cry went out, “The bridegroom is here! Come out to meet Him.” And the foolish virgins were not ready. Their lamps were empty and they missed their opportunity. When I think of those empty lamps needing oil, I am reminded of the emptiness of human kind.

a) An Empty Life

We live in an age of extreme business. Possibly, not one person in this room needs one more meeting to attend, one more job to do, or one more activity to take part in. Our lives are arguably on overload. While our schedules remain full, our lives can feel empty. All it takes for us to feel empty is to not have an ultimate purpose in life. Jesus came to give life purpose and meaning. Yet today, many lives are empty. We see this played out repeated by those who we consider celebrities. Those who have more material possessions than anyone needs, bank accounts in the 7 and 8 figures, and structures which temporarily houses their present marriage. I suspect they would give all their houses---for a home. When we receive the grace of Jesus, He becomes our ally in making our house a home. He gives our life meaning, purpose, direction, and even fulfillment.

b) An Empty Hope

For those who believe the world will get better just because we are good people might care to take stock of where we are in America. Not long ago I heard Jerry Springer say, “For the first time in America, we are not leaving the generation coming with a better country than we inherited.” What kind of hope does this leave for our children? To place our faith in our government, our money, or our retirement account is to build our lives on the sinking sand of uncertainty. The results of no hope are written in the alarming statistic that over 33,000 people in the US die at their own hand.

There is nothing more devastating than to place all your hope in something only to discover that it’s flawed. An empty hope is different than destroyed or no hope. Additionally, if we place hope in Jesus only in this life—we are to be pitied. At least that what the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15.

c) An Empty Heart

Man was created with the need for God in our heart. The Bible tells us that ‘whatever is in our hearts comes out in our words, our actions, even our lives.’ That is completely different than the philosophy of our culture which states ‘no one can know what is in another’s heart.” The heart is considered the center of who I am. This is why Romans 10 tells us that we must believe in our heart. A heart without Jesus is like a tea pitcher without the tea, a coffee cup without the coffee, and a cake plate without a cake. All three of these can be used for other things, but that is not what they were designed for. Our heart can be filled with many other things—but in the larger scheme of things, it will never be fully satisfied until it is filled with the presence of creator God.

In this ‘live & let live-do it my way-it really doesn’t matter-I don’t care-it’s all about me’ culture in which we live, I fear that there are many people who can be equated with those foolish virgins. They are sitting around, waiting, and believing that when the Lord comes, He’ll see things their way. Candidly, we called to see things His way. What is His way? What does Jesus tell us we must do? He gives it to us in a simple way found in John 3:16.

His name was Philip. He never felt like he belonged. He was pleasant enough but he looked a bit different and sometimes seemed unusual to his eight-year-old classmates. In his Sunday school class several weeks before Easter, Phillip’s teacher introduced a special project. He gave every member a plastic "egg"--the kind pantyhose used to come in. He explained that each child was to go outside, find a symbol for new life and put it into the egg. Enthusiastically, the class responded. Back in the classroom the eggs were opened one at a time with each child explaining the meaning of his symbol. In the first egg was a pretty flower; in the next a beautiful butterfly, while green grass was in a third. The children "oohed" and "aahed". In another was a rock, which prompted loud laughter. Finally the last egg was opened - there was nothing. "That’s stupid," said one child. Another grumbled, ”Someone didn’t do it right! The teacher felt a tug on his shirt. It was Phillip, who said, ’That’s mine, and I did do right! It’s empty, ’cause the tomb was empty."

There was an unusual, thoughtful silence. And strangely, from that time on, Phillip was accepted as part of the group. Phillip continued to struggle with many physical problems. That summer he picked up an infection which most children would easily have shaken off. But Philip’s weak body couldn’t and a few weeks later, he died. At his funeral nine eight year-olds with their teacher brought their symbol of remembrance and placed it near his coffin. Their unusual gift of love to Phillip wasn’t flowers. It was an empty egg - now a symbol to them of new life and hope. It was Phillip, the "different" child, who had helped his friends see the wonderful hope in the message of Easter.