Running On Empty: What the Empty Tomb Means To An Empty Life

Empty wallet? Empty relationships? Empty life?

It may be hard to see how a Jewish Rabbi who died nearly 2,000 years ago could have anything to offer your emptiness and brokenness today.

But that’s until you consider that this man didn’t stay in the tomb. Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, but he was (and is) so much more!

On Easter Sunday, we began a three week message series entitled Running On Empty.

You can listen to and share the messages below:

1. Hopeless (John 20:1-18)

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Sermon Summary

Before encountering the resurrected Jesus, the empty tomb was bad news for Mary. She couldn’t see how the empty tomb might be good news. In her grief, she didn’t even recognize the resurrected Jesus until He spoke her name.

Sometimes it’s hard for us to see Jesus in the midst of our troubling circumstances. What makes the difference is when we can see the resurrected Jesus at work in and through our life circumstances to receive glory and to work all for our good.

We are not without hope because Jesus, who suffered far greater than we ever will, understands our need and promises to be with us. Even more, He has promised that these circumstances are temporary and that we are not alone!

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2. Faithless (John 20:19-31)

Join us April 23rd at City Life Church for the next message in this series.

3. Aimless (John 21:1-25)

Join us April 30th at City Life Church for the next message in this series.

Please contact us if you have questions about this series or about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.

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We want to invite you to join us on Sundays at 10:30 as we continue our current sermon series. Please sign up to receive emails and never miss out on sermons and ministry opportunities at City Life Church.

Raising Lazarus (John 11:1-54)


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Sermon Summary

Text: John 11:1-54

1. The Reason Lazarus Died

We aren’t always given the reason for why we must endure trials. A death in the family, a financial hardship, a broken relationship. Jesus explicitly states at least four reasons why Lazarus died. These reasons give us hope that, even if the reasons behind our suffering are never known, that He is still in control and is working for His glory and our good.

Lazarus died…

a. to bring glory to the Father and the Son (verse 4)
b. to demonstrate love to the family (verses 5-6)
c. to provoke the anger of the Jewish leaders (verses 7-10)
d. to nurture the belief of His followers (verses 11-15)

Though the reasons for Lazarus’ death were unique to his own situation, we discover that even death can have a purpose.

2. The Revelation of Jesus as Resurrection and Life

The raising of Lazarus was the ultimate sign in the Gospel of John that Jesus truly is the Son of God. It is the final sign Jesus will display to the Jewish people to invite them to believe. Embedded within this final sign is Jesus’ fifth claim to being the Great “I Am”.

Jesus said to [Martha], ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?'” (John 11:25-26)

By claiming to be “the resurrection and the life”. Jesus claims power over death. No one, other than God, has that power. Jesus makes this statement to one of His most faithful followers. Jesus had a close relationship with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus and they clearly knew Him and believed in Him.

Yet, He still asks the question: “Do you believe this?”

As Jesus’ followers, our faith must grow and continually be challenged with the question: Do we believe?

3. The Wrath of Jesus Against Sin and Death

It’s good that Jesus was so angry against sin and death. No sin will go unpunished and He proves that He is the One who will ultimately gain victory over sin and death.

This is troubling news to those who don’t believe. If you don’t believe, then sin and death are yours to endure. But Jesus proved His power over sin and death in the raising of Lazarus temporarily and permanently in His own death and resurrection.

Jesus was angered at the effects of sin. He saw Mary and the crowds weeping and was angered! He promises to lead us to a place where there is no more weeping and sorrow and pain. Through His death, He has purchased our salvation from the effects of sin and death in our own lives.

4. The Refusal of the Jews to Believe 

But ultimately, there are always those who will refuse to believe. Ironically, it was Jesus raising Lazarus that sealed His own “fate”. It was this event that John tells us led the Sanhedrin to convene and begin looking for a way to kill Jesus.

Caiaphas even believes that by sacrificing Jesus they will save the nation. In his pride, he put forward an initiative to hold onto his own power. Caiaphas got something right and something wrong: Sacrificing Jesus would ultimately save people but rather than hold onto power, the Jews would eventually lose their precious temple and their city (in 70 a.d.)

Personally, if you hold on to your own pride, power, or position, you will ultimately lose all of it. But, if you trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sin, you will be saved!

For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?” (Mark 8:36)

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He offers something more valuable than anything this world has to offer. Trust in Him and rest in His promises that He will care for you in the good times and the bad.

Do you believe?

Get Connected

We want to invite you to join us on Sundays at 10:30 as we continue the 7 Signs & Sayings of Jesus sermon series. You can also sign up to receive emails and never miss out on sermons and ministry opportunities at City Life Church.

Happy Easter from City Life Church in Ridgewood, NY

The good news of Jesus’ resurrection is so good that we celebrate EVERY Sunday. But, if you don’t have a church to call home and you live in or near Ridgewood, NY, we would love to see you at City Life Church! Our service begins at 10:30am and we have a special children’s church for children ages 3-10 during the sermon.

EASTER | 10_30AM

On Easter Sunday, Pastor Nathan will preach on Jesus’ Last Words on the cross. If you’d like to help spread the word, save the images from this post to your computer and share them on social media.

See you Sunday!


  • We hope to see you at City Life Church on Sunday, but we also want to share another special opportunity on Good Friday. Grace Baptist Church will be hosting a Good Friday service at 7:30pm at their location in Woodhaven, NY. You can get more information at
  • CityKIDS Weekly Bible Club will not meet this Friday!

Share this photo on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let people know you’ll be at City Life Church on Easter Sunday!

Raised (Mark 16:1-8)

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Sermon Summary

1. We deserve pity if Jesus is still dead

a. A Dead Jesus is worth admiring

When the women came to the tomb on Easter Sunday, their only hope was to gain access so that they could anoint a dead Jesus. Even though Jesus had prophesied that He would rise on the third day, they didn’t have faith that He might be alive.

Dead Mohammed, Dead Buddha, Dead Confucius, Dead Socrates and Dead Jesus are all people we might learn from (for good or bad). They all taught and led movements and gathered devoted followers. Their teaching has endured. They all tried to do good things. They helped others in need. But they are all dead. We can only read about them. We can be inspired by their teachings. We can even practice what they preached. But they are all dead.

b. Dead Jesus must ultimately be abandoned.

Eventually, these women would’ve had to go on with their lives. They probably would’ve continued with Jewish observances and ultimately forgotten about Jesus.

A dead Jesus would be similar to other dead religious leaders but He would be different in one respect: His claims were different than theirs. For example, Jesus claimed to be God’s Son. He also claimed that He would lay down His life to show His love and that He would rise on the third day.

If Jesus is still dead, then those claims were nonsense at best and delusional at worst.

1 Corinthians 15:17 says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

2. Good News: Jesus isn’t dead!

When the women got to the tomb they discovered that the stone had been rolled away. God had already provided without them needing to lift a finger. They wouldn’t have been able to roll the stone away and they weren’t even aware that it had been sealed and a guard had been assigned to watch the tomb. All they knew is that when they arrived the tomb was open.

Even better, they found that it was empty and the messenger told them that Jesus wasn’t there, He has been resurrected! They only wanted Dead Jesus and all of their effort never would’ve even gotten them past the stone, much less the seal and the guard, but God not only removed the obstacle but they discovered that Jesus was not dead, He was alive!

In verses 6-7 the messenger delivers the gospel and the great commission all rolled into one. He tells them a) don’t be alarmed b) Jesus is alive c) the proof is this empty tomb) and go, tell His disciples (including Peter) to meet Jesus in Galilee e) just as He said.

We, too, benefit from this Good News. Jesus is alive and we are to go and tell others that Jesus offers forgiveness because His death and resurrection accomplished that for us.

Rather than pursue a Dead Mohammed or a Dead Abraham or even a Dead Jesus, we have joy in the realization that Jesus is truly alive and He has demonstrated His love for us in such a meaningful way.