The Empty Promises of Easter (16 Apr 2017)

All over the world, we have tombstones and burial grounds made famous because of what they contain. For example, it is reported that Bruce Lee’s graveyard draws people from around the world including three Mongolians who trekked 3,700 miles to honor Lee on the 53rd anniversary of his birth. The trip is said to have taken the Mongolians seven months and five pairs of shoes. [1] Chairman Mao Zedong may have passed away in 1976, but his mausoleum, situated in the famous Tiananmen Square in Beijing has a daily steady crowd of visitors filing pass his embalmed body.

However, it was Sam Morris who years ago succinctly said, ‘The tomb of Christ is famous because of what it DOES NOT CONTAIN.’ It is empty!

Thank God for the “Empty Promises of Easter”, which really is the somewhat cheeky title of an article/sermon that surfaced many years ago. Many have since alluded to it, the source of which is unknown now.   In this same piece, the writer speaks of the three empty promises of Easter, in reference to the empty cross, the empty tomb and the empty grave clothes.

A.  The empty cross – the promise of sins forgiven. Col. 3:13,14 states, 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.’ 

Thank God for His love for us. Yes indeed, Jesus our Lord was nailed and crucified. However, as Carroll Roberson writes correctly in his song, ‘It was love that nailed Jesus to the cross.’

B. The empty tomb – the promise of eternal life. 1Cor. 15:54-57 states, 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’

The fear of death is something that many people grapple with. Many see it as an entrance into the scary unknown. Woody Allen put it this way – ‘I’m not afraid to die; I just don’t want to be there when it happens’. With the reality of the empty tomb, we know with great comfort that through the death of our Lord, He delivered us ‘who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.’ (Heb. 2:14,15) 

C.  The empty grave-clothes – the promise of the Living Saviour. John 20:6,7 states, Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.’  Praise God, we worship and serve the Living Saviour. The empty grave-clothes tell us that ‘He is not there; He is risen’ (Matt28:6). As our resurrected Lord, He sits at the right-hand of the Father, making intercession for us (Rom. 8:34).

This Easter, let us thank God for the “empty promises” that brings for us the forgiveness of sin, eternal life and a relationship with the Living Saviour.


Elder Richard Lai