Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This is a Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday message. I begin with why people like to read novels... mystery, suspense, anger murder & personal sacrifice. The Bible contains the greatest story every told... the messages quickly covers the life of Jesus and why

In Jesus Holy Name March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday Redeemer

“The Rest of the Story”

Many people enjoy reading novels. They have their preference: mystery, historical, romance, science fiction. Others enjoy certain authors and their style: John Grisham: A Time to Kill; The Pelican Brief; the Last Juror. Others enjoy Tom LaHaye’s “Left Behind”. Then there is Jean Auel and her series: The Clan of the Cave Bear; Mammoth Hunters about men and women caught up in the dynamics of prehistoric Europe. Then there’s Louis L’Amour and his western novels. James Michner: Alaska; Centennial; The Source; Hawaii; Poland. How could we forget the Harry Potter Chronicles by J.K. Rowling.

All these novels contain the elements of mystery, suspense, fear and alienation, anger and murder, greed and overwhelming love and personal sacrifice. The reader turns each page with anxious anticipation for the rest of the story.

The rest of the story. Sometimes the rest of the story has a happy ending. In other cases like “Cold Mountain” it is a Greek tragedy as two lover’s try to live through the Civil War.

On May 9, 1957 a 23 year old pilot, Lieutenant David Steeves took off from Hamilton Air Force Base near S.F. Somewhere between there and his destination of Selma, Alabama, Lieutenant David Steeves disappeared. A search was made and neither Lieutenant Steeves nor his Lockheed T-33 was found. After some time the Lieutenant’s mother received a death certificate declaring her son to be dead. But there is a “rest of the story.”

Fifty-four days after he had disappeared Lieutenant David Steeves walked out of the California Sierra Mountains.

He told of how something had exploded in his cockpit; how he had parachuted to safety; how he had lived on berries and burrowed into the snow to sleep at night. He told how he had stumbled upon a ranger’s cabin in Kings Canyon National Park where he found fish hooks, beans and a canned ham.

People were glad. Lieutenant David Steeves was alive. But the rest of the story. A nation which was worried about communism started to think: Isn’t it unusual Steeves’ plane went down just before his unit went to Korea? When no wreckage of the plane was found, some suggested the pilot had sold the jet to Russia; others said he had sent it in pieces to Mexico. No charges were ever brought against David Steeves, but he left the military with a cloud over his good name.

After that Steeves became a commercial pilot, but his free time was spent scouring the wilderness, looking for the wreckage of his plane. Steeves died in 1965 never having found the remnants of his jet. But there’s more; there is a rest of the story. In 1977, 12 years after Steeves had passed away, some Boy Scouts hiking in Kings Canyon found a cockpit cover whose number matched Lieutenant David Steeves’ lost Lockheed jet.

The bible is filled with stories that should have ended but didn’t. The story of Adam and Eve should have ended with them being expelled from the Garden of Eden, doomed to live a life without hope or happiness. But, because of God’s grace and promise of a Redeemer there is the rest of the story.

The story of Moses should have ended with him remaining a shepherd in the Sinai. But the rest of the story finds Moses delivering God’s people from slavery and into the promised land 40 years later. The tale of Noah should have ended with the flood; the story of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego should have concluded with them being toast. The story of Daniel should have ended in the lion’s den. But in each case there is “the rest of the story”. By God’s hand, and often in a miraculous way, God spared his representative

That is certainly true for the story of Jesus. When I read the Gospels there are so many times Jesus’ story could have ended. He was born in a Bethlehem stable. What are the survival odds for a child when he is born in a barn? What are the chances the baby living when his first bed is an animal’s feeding trough? None of us would have been surprised if, a few days after he was born, he had contracted some infection and died.

Later wise men from the east came looking for a new born king of the Jews. They went to Jerusalem, the palace of the present King Herod. There was no new child in Jerusalem… but they were told to go to Bethlehem. They could not have known the unbalanced mind of Herod, the power man monarch. They did not know that others would follow them to murder the child. These new visitors brought their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. His story could have ended there, but it did not.

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