Empty Promises – Have you ever wondered how the disciples felt about the promises Jesus made to them when Jesus died that day? They felt they received EMPTY PROMISES. However, Jesus does not give EMPTY PROMISES. He will come back from the dead to keep his promises. In fact, he FILLS EMPTINESS WITH PROMISE. We see this in the empty cross, empty tomb, and empty grave clothes.
By Pastor Delbert Young
Scriptures: John 19:17-18, 34, Hebrews 10:8-9, 1 John 1:7-8, John 19:41-42, Romans 6:5, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, John 19:40, John 20:5-8, John 20:8
EMPTY PROMISES… How long has it been since someone gave you an EMPTY PROMISE? Probably not long. It’s a political season. We are bombarded with promises, from no raise in taxes, to fixing the health care program. If you Google empty promises, the #1 search engine return is empty political promises. Your place of occupation maybe gave you empty advancement promises. Relationships often offer EMPTY PROMISES. Parents promise children things, but sometimes those promises are empty. Children promise parents and sometimes those promises are empty. There are empty promises in marriage. People promise faithfulness, love, honor, and to cherish each other until death do them part, but with the divorce rate at around 50%, how frequently are those only EMPTY PROMISES? Work gives you EMPTY PROMISES. People will give you EMPTY PROMISES. Politicians give you EMPTY PROMISES. How about EMPTY PROMISES you made to people and even to God. You promise God that you will pray more, but you find yourself too busy working, watching TV, or running here and there. You promise God that you will not be so impatient with those annoying people in your life, but find yourself a few days later yelling at one louder than ever before. Life is full of EMPTY PROMISES.
Have you ever wondered how the disciples felt about the promises Jesus made to them when Jesus died that day? They felt they received EMPTY PROMISES. However, Jesus does not give EMPTY PROMISES. He will come back from the dead to keep his promises. In fact, he FILLS EMPTINESS WITH PROMISE. We see this in the empty cross, empty tomb, and empty grave clothes.
John 19:17-18, 34 Carrying his own CROSS, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).HERE THEY CRUCIFIED HIM… Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
THE PROMISE OF THE EMPTY CROSS
What is the promise of the empty cross? First, let me explain a little about sacrifices. Man is imperfect. Man curses, cheats, lies, and steals. Man deceives, gossips, grumbles, gripes, judges, discriminates, hates, assaults, fights, wars, and kills. Man is selfish, hoarding, indulgent, extravagant, wasteful, and polluting. Man is lustful and immoral. Man will take what he wants not caring who it hurts. Man will seek pleasure to satisfy his lust even if it destroys those he loves. Even when man deals with God, he neglects, ignores, denies, rejects, and curses God. These things are all obviously wrong, which means they are sinful, and evil in anyone’s book, not only the Bible. Built into each of us is a knowing hell awaits if something is not done about one’s wrong, sinful, and evil ways. We attempt to convince ourselves there is no hell, but we can’t ever completely believe there is no hell. Actually, God will not allow you.
What can be done to correct that situation? Though man, in and of his own, is vile, God loves man. Why? Because God created man. You can relate to that if you have a child. No matter how vile your child ever becomes, you love that child. As you would do all you could to help your vile child turn around, God does everything he can to help man. In the Old Covenant, God provided a substitute to take the judgment and punishment for man’s sin and evil. An animal could be sacrificed and die instead of the man being judged for his sin and evilness. The animal had to be flawless, representing “sinless-ness”. Once the sacrifice was offered, man’s wrong, sin, and evilness was covered by that death. Man could then, because of the covering of sin, fellowship with God and avoid hell. Thousands, millions, maybe billions of animals died for that reason, which testifies of man’s deep inner desire to do right and have a relationship with God.
However, there were problems with that Old Covenant system. An animal was only an animal, not a man. A true replacement for a man could only be a man. Another problem was the sacrifice, though flawless, was not perfect, so the sacrifice had to be repeated over and over. Still, another problem existed. Animals were not perfect in that animals eventually die. The perfect sacrifice must be eternal if the sacrifice eternally dealt with sin. Another problem was animals were actually victims, not willing substitutes. The perfect sacrifice must willingly die for man’s vileness.
What was the solution? The solution was that for an eternal sacrifice to die meant God had to die, for only God is eternal. For that to happen, God had to become and live as a man tempted with all the temptations and evils a man faces, yet live a sinless life. Then that sinless man had to willingly die for sinful, evil, and even vile people. This is the reason Jesus went to the cross.
There is an emptiness/void-ness in man. It’s a desire to connect with God. We have all experienced it. From that emptiness come all the world’s religions and all the spiritualisms. However, there is only ONE WAY to God. In the book of Hebrews, we are shown a conversation between Father God and Christ the Son.
Hebrews 10:8-9 Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or grain offerings or animals burned on the altar or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he added, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to establish the second.
When a person comes to God by faith in Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of Christ is applied to the person. The perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ deals eternally with the person’s sins – forgiveness. The person is not sinless, but he is received as sinless by God. The person can now fellowship and interact with God as day by day sin is overcome by the person’s experience with the Holy Spirit, and doing God’s will.
The promise of the empty cross is a person is actually purified from his or her wrong, evil, sinful, even vile ways and is received/forgiven by God. Sounds too good to be true, right? Let’s read.
1 John 1:7-8 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, PURIFIES US FROM ALL SIN. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Purifies is a strong word (KJV says cleanseth). Nothing else, repeat, nothing else does this. The empty cross was the place Jesus willingly offered his blood. You are forgiven for every vile, evil, wrong thing. You have fellowship – partnership – with God. The emptiness in your soul is filled. You found God. Before I move on to the next point, how many will acknowledge that is the truth? Before you received the promise of the empty cross, there was an emptiness you could not fill. Yet, after you received the promise of the empty cross, that emptiness is filled. THAT IS THE PROMISE.
THE PROMISE OF THE EMPTY TOMB
John 19:41-42 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new TOMB, in which no one had ever been laid… since The TOMB was nearby, THEY LAID JESUS THERE.
What is the promise of the empty tomb? Why is that tomb so great and so important? It’s just a place representing death like a head stone on a grave, right. I mean, look around. I’m not at all a pessimist or a negative person, but the earth is a graveyard. Do what Delbert! That doesn’t sound like you. I know. I’m making a point. Anyone can see that the earth is just one huge cemetery. Trees die after towering for hundreds of years. Animals die after only a few years. Insects die by the millions after a short time. Death is here everywhere for every living thing! People die too! For most of us it’s before a century is done. We mark each other’s graves. We try to preserve our parent’s graves. It’s a fact. Death is here for everyone without exception! The only thing certain is death and taxes and given the option, we all take taxes. The Bible calls this the wages of sin. So, unless you have never sinned, you will die.
Now, why is the empty tomb of Jesus so important? It’s not because of the remains of the person who was buried there. It’s not because it is an important piece of architecture. This tomb is important simply because it is EMPTY. THAT EMPTY TOMB MEANS GOD’S PROMISE OF ETERNAL SALVATION WORKED. The world has never been the same because of that empty tomb.
On that first Easter Sunday, not many really cared about that empty tomb. Eleven disciples, some followers, and a few upset Pharisees were about all who cared. However, today close to half the world’s population are Christ followers and they care. How can THAT – 3 billion people – be explained? Max Lucado writes in his book He Chose the Nails, “Jesus was a backwater peasant. He never wrote a book, never held an office. He never journeyed more than two hundred miles from His hometown. Friends left Him. One betrayed Him. Those He helped forgot Him. Prior to His death, they abandoned Him. But after His death they couldn’t resist Him. What made the difference?”The answer is THE EMPTY TOMB.
What is the promise of the empty tomb? The promise is because Jesus arose from the dead eternally, so will I, and so will the other 3 billion people. We share in his resurrection.
Romans 6:5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
The promise of resurrection means the end of the fear of death. I am not afraid of death. I don’t want to die, but one day I will. However, I am not afraid of it.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Look deep. Do you fear death? If so then you need the promise of the empty tomb. All who answer the call of Jesus hold the promise of the empty tomb. Your body will not end with decay. It will be raised eternal. The promise is NO FEAR OF DEATH AND ETERNAL SALVATION – RESURRECTION.
THE PROMISE OF THE EMPTY GRAVE CLOTHES
John 19:40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them WRAPPED IT, WITH THE SPICES, IN STRIPS OF LINEN. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
John 20:5-8 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side. Then the other disciple also went in, and he saw and BELIEVED.
The body cloth was lying where it should, but the head covering was lying to the side.
Judy and I watch all the CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), television programs. There is CSI,CSI Miami, and CSI New York. They show how the use of forensic science at crime scenes is used to obtain proof. What kind of proof would CSI find at the tomb? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
The body of Jesus was washed, meticulously wrapped around and around and around with white linen strips beginning at the neck, each arm, around the waste area, each leg, and foot as was the custom of that time. Wrapped within the linen wrappings were seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes (spices) to help control the stench of decaying flesh. A separate cloth was used to cover the head and face. A huge stone was placed and sealed at the entrance along with Roman guards to guard the tomb from robbery.
As John and Peter came to the tomb, the stone had moved. The guards were gone. John stooped down, looked in, and saw the linen wrappings lying there like an empty cocoon. That sight stopped him in his tracks. Peter, not stopping to look, went into the opened tomb. He saw the “cocoon” of linen. They were obviously the wrappings used for Jesus, but they just laid there as wrapped around the body, but without the body in them. In a separate place off to the side, the cloth used to cover the head and face lay neatly folded.
The Jews said the body was stolen. Have you ever experienced a robbery? We experienced that traumatic experience twice. Let me tell you, robbers do not neatly fold anything. They do exactly the opposite. Everything they touch is stripped, ripped, thrown, and dumped on the floor. However, the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side. The linen wrappings were not unwound, not scattered about, and not cut off. They simply were lying there as an empty cocoon.
What would CSI determine from all this? First, the accusation of the Jews that the body of Jesus was stolen was false. If someone had taken it, they wouldn’t have taken the time to unwrap it. They would have taken it, wrappings and all. And how would they have re-wrapped the cloth in a cocoon condition? Why would they even care to neatly fold the facial covering? Plus, they could not have overpowered Roman soldiers who were trained and ready for grave robbers.
All forensic evidence would show that the wrappings were those used for Jesus. CSI would conclude that something miraculous had occurred. The body had somehow miraculously come through the linen wrappings without disturbing them. The evidence is conclusive. God raised Jesus from the dead.
John 20:8 Then the other disciple also went in, and HE SAW AND BELIEVED.
The empty grave clothes forever changed Peter and John. So much so, they, as did all the disciples, gave their lives because of those empty grave clothes. They BELIEVED not because of the empty cross, or the empty grave. They BELIEVED because of the empty grave clothes. Peter would be crucified upside down. John would be boiled alive, not die, and exiled for the remainder of his life to the island of Patmos. Every disciple would die a horrid martyr’s death. It will do the same to you. Once you receive the promise of the empty grave clothes, it will forever change you and you will die before you renounce your belief in Jesus Christ.
What is the promise of the empty grave clothes? BELIEF, BECA– USE OF PROOF, FOR WHICH, YOU WILL DIE! When you grasp the promise of the empty grave clothes, you cannot help but believe. There is NO OTHER EXPLANATION. Jesus is exactly who he says he is: The Son of God. It is proof that God raised Jesus from the dead.
The empty cross promises forgiveness, even purification from your sins and the only way to fill the void in your soul for God. The empty tomb promises you Jesus raised from the dead and you too will be raised in the resurrection. Your body will not be left to decay. The empty grave clothes promises positive proof that Jesus is who he says he is. He is the Son of God.
Through Jesus’ empty cross, empty tomb, and empty grave clothes, GOD WILL FILL YOUR EMPTINESS WITH PROMISE. In fact, it’s the only way your life will ever be fully filled.
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