Wishing you all a most joyous and meaningful Easter celebration!
Greg and Eric for This Day’s Thought from The Ranch
An Empty Celebration- Easter
by Jerry Shirley
Jeremy was not a normal child. He had a terminal illness which affected both his body and his mind. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to a religious elementary school. At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. He was a frustration to his teacher and to all the children in the class.
Springtime came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Their teacher told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg with this assignment: “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”
All the children responded enthusiastically, “Yes, Miss Miller!” All of them, that is, except for Jeremy. He just listened carefully, his eyes never leaving the teacher’s face. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? The teacher thought perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them, but she got busy and forgot.
The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in a large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Miss Miller found a flower. She said, “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life. When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arms. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.
The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked real. The teacher held it up. She said, “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine!”
Next, the teacher found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. “My daddy helped me!”
Then the teacher opened the fourth egg. But the egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, obviously, he didn’t understand her instructions. If only she hadn’t forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” A bit flustered, the teacher said, “But Jeremy — your egg is empty!” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too!”
Truly, the greatest symbol of new life is found in an empty tomb!
“But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.”
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Recently, an article was published that revealed the secrets of hidden “surprises” in computer software and video games. Programmers add these surprises to give the programs an added appeal. Some of the examples were funny like the hidden message “I’m being held prisoner in a software factory.” Others were meant to entertain like a hidden computer pinball game in the Microsoft Word 97 program and hidden virtual picture of the mountain peaks and blue skies in Microsoft Excel 97.
Do you know what these little hidden software surprises are called?
Easter eggs! It’s great to open one and find the surprise.
Imagination is a Wonderful thing…
Out of it we get –
A FAIRY that pays money for Teeth…
A FAT Man that delivers gifts…
A RABBIT that lays Eggs…but it’s all empty celebration.
You don’t need a bunny or some eggs to excite the imagination about Easter. It stands alone on it’s own w/out any help! Our empty celebration is found in the empty tomb!
Here’s 3 Empty Promises We Can Celebrate this Easter:
1. An Empty Life.
v. 7 Jesus showed that THE WAY TO BE FULL IS TO BE EMPTY.
[tell that to my gas tank!]
Real ‘fulfill’ment comes when we’re empty of our own desires and make Jesus our heart’s desire!
Jesus’ Last Words before His Death:
IT IS FINISHED
What does this Mean?
Fulfillment! That Everything that needed to be Done was DONE!
That Jesus has Literally Emptied Himself of Everything he had to offer TO ME/YOU, That We might Live LIFE ABUNDANTLY!
He Poured it all out – that it might be found within us!
When you Watch Him Live – you Know that His life was Consumed for Humanity – You & ME – and that He emptied Himself of all other cares.
Stepped Into Humanity at its Worst – Offered his Very Best!
EMPTIED HIMSELF of ALL LIFE –
To FILL Ours With HIS
If you are not experiencing God’s presence in your life, it may be that you’re not “empty” enough!
We serve a Lord that specializes in filling emptiness!
In creation He flung the universe into an expanse of emptiness/He hung the stars upon nothing (He turned nothing into something, then hung it on nothing!)
Jn. 6–empty stomachs (5,000 plus)
4 plans offered:
1. Disciples said, let’s just get rid of the problem…tell them to go away
Jesus said, that’s not it, they’ll faint on the way home…they’re running on empty.
2. Phillip said, let’s raise the money. He did some figuring and found it would take 200 days’ wages to buy enough bread. (money’s not the solution to every problem…it can’t buy everything! House/not a home; bed/good night’s sleep; medicine/health; beautiful church bldg./power of God!)
3. Andrew found little boy w/ small lunch, and said, it’s not much, but it’s a start!
4. Jesus had the true solution as he took the little boy’s lunch and demonstrated that little is much when God is in it!
In all 4 gospels, Jesus gave thanks prior to even breaking the bread…showing the multitudes that only God can fill their emptiness!
We serve a Lord that specializes in filling emptiness!
In John 2 He filled some empty wash pots…at a wedding feast, a village event that the whole city came out for in those days. There was a festive mood until the unthinkable happened: the host ran out of wine and the people began to scurry about, whispering about the problem, until the whole crowd knew and the host was embarrassed!
The Lord let them scramble for a while before bringing the solution…He allowed them to feel their emptiness/inadequacy…He waited until they ran out of options, and then He took empty waterpots, filled them w/ water, and then worked the miracle!
And the joy that the world has to offer is just temporary…it always runs out, the result is always a void left over…emptiness. But the joy of the Lord is ever new and ever satisfying!
The world offers you its best at first…until you get hooked, and then it’s all downhill from there.
“The best day you’ll ever spend in sin will be the 1st day”
Heb. 11 talks about the pleasures of sin “for a season”
Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.
Prov. 20:17 –
Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.
But Jesus gives a miraculous joy that never ends. He gives us His best from the start, and somehow, miraculously makes the joy grow and get even better!
Truly, every day w/Jesus is sweeter than the day before/the longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows!
Jesus took waterpots that were used in those days for external washing, and made them useful for something internal, something deeper and more satisfying. He created something fulfilling…and He used emptiness to do it!
We serve a Lord that specializes in filling emptiness!
Are you running on empty? If you’re not experiencing intimacy w/ Christ on a daily basis…it may be that, though you feel empty…you’re not empty enough! Make room for Jesus by taking some irons out of the fire and making Him a priority!
• We need to be emptied of sin.
God can’t fill a vessel that has no room to pour into. It is an impossibility if we harbor sin in our lives. Now, Christians aren’t sinless, but we SHOULD sin LESS! It’s all about desire. True repentance is not perfection, but turning from sin and doing our best to head toward God.
• We need to be emptied of self.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will never find intimacy w/ Christ until we stop bowing down to the shrine of self!
• We need to be emptied of substitutes.
Be careful, often we try to substitute service for surrender/work for worship…but Martha becomes Mary when she drops her “to do list” and falls at the feet of Jesus!
Serving is good and right, but don’t let yourself get so busy doing things for Christ that you neglect spending time with Christ!
Accept no other substitutes for the filling of the Spirit. Don’t fill yourself up w/drugs / food / movies / music / relationships…nothing less than Christ!
Empty yourself out on this altar (toxic waste dump)
Empty the sin, the self, all substitutes.
This Easter, we have the promise of an empty life. Jesus is our example, and we should follow in those footsteps. Also…
2. An Empty Cross
I’ve never appreciated the crucifix hanging on a mirror or a hospital wall. Jesus isn’t there anymore!
The cross is empty…and yet it is full of God’s promises!
THE EMPTY Cross Tells me that I Can BE Forgiven of ALL my SIN…
Cross was a Cruel place of Death…
Jesus was Beaten…Broken…Bruised…
HE TOOK it all on himself – that we might not have to!
v. 6 Jesus showed that THE WAY TO GO UP IS DOWN.
“When I couldn’t go where He was, He came to me”. He came down to my level when I couldn’t get up to His!
The Empty Cross – Tells me that I can be free from my past
Have a Great life in & Through Jesus
It is the place where he died – but today, it is empty. Empty of Jesus body, but full – full of God’s promises. Full of hope – for you and me. The promise of the empty cross is that you and I stand forgiven. Because it was on that cross that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.
3. An Empty Tomb.
v. 8-9 Jesus showed that THE WAY TO LIVE IS TO DIE.
Without The Empty Tomb –
There is No SAVIOR
Nothing is Sure…
Tomb, You shall not hold Him longer, Death is strong, but life is stronger
Stronger than the dark, the light; Stronger than the wrong, the right;
Faith and hope triumphant say; Christ will rise on Easter Day.
While the patient earth lies waiting; Till the morning shall be breaking
Shuddering beneath the burden dread Of her Master, cold and dead,
Hark! she hears the angels say; Christ will rise on Easter Day.
And when sunrise smites the mountains Pouring light from heavenly fountains
Then the earth blooms out to greet; Once again the blessed feet;
And her countless voices say; Christ has risen on Easter Day.
For, in the fact of the empty tomb is the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise to every one of us that we too will be raised to eternal life. To those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, death has lost its sting – it is no longer something to be feared. What fear is there when we have the promise that one day we will live forever with Him in Heaven?
The world gives us promises full of emptiness: God gives us emptiness full of promise!
Silly rabbit…eggs aren’t for kids, it’s an empty tomb…full of promises for all who would be God’s children!