Summary: If Christ has not been raised our faith is useless, but the fact is, Christ has been raised from the dead... and because He lives, we too will live!
Title: The Story Behind the Story
Thesis: If Christ has not been raised our faith is useless, but the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead… and because he lives, we too will live!
Did you know that Napoleon loved to take long soaks in soapy, scented water? During one of his baths he had invited his two older brothers in so he could seek their advice while he soaked in the tub. He had already made up his mind but he asked the advice of his brothers anyway. One of the brothers was adamantly against what Napoleon planned to do, so much so that Napoleon called for his towels and enraged was trying to get out of the tub. He had one hand on the edge of the tub and was gesturing with the other toward his brother when his foot slipped and he fell back into the tub, sloshing soapy, scented water all over his equally enraged brother.
They say Napoleon began to laugh and his brothers began to laugh and Napoleon then continued to splash and splash covering his brothers with bath water… it was as if they were once again little boys splashing each other in the bath tub.
When it was over the animosity was all washed away and the issue was never spoken of again. And Napoleon sent word to Thomas Jefferson that he would sell the United States the Louisiana Territory.
Paul Harvey is famous for his broadcast segments, “The Rest of the Story.” In his this closing segment of his broadcast he would speak on a variety of subjects in which he would uncover little known facts about something that hinged on a key-element of the story which was often a famous person. And when he had completed his tale he would say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
This morning we will not only relive the familiar resurrection story, we will also unpack a lesser known story upon which our faith hinges.
While the resurrection story ends with joy it was not a happy occasion early on. Our story begins with a long night punctuated by grief.
I. A Night too Long… Grief!
The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went and purchased burial spices to put on Jesus’ body. Early on Sunday morning, as the day was dawning they went to the tomb. Mark 16:1-2
Journalist and author Bob Greene tells the following story in his book And You Know You Should Be Glad: A True Story of Lifelong Friendship: When, during an already painful juncture in my life, my wife died, I was so numb that I felt dead myself. In the hours after her death, as our children and I tried in vain to figure out what to do next, how to get from hour to hour…
The next morning—one of those mornings when you awaken, blink to start the day, and then, a dispiriting second later, [you] realize anew what has just happened and feel the boulder press you against the earth with such weight that you fear you will never be able to get up…
The night before Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary the Mother of James had gone to the market to buy burial spices. In the Middle East people were usually buried soon after death, usually within 24 hrs. The Jews did not normally cremate or use coffins nor did they embalm. Rather, the body was simply washed and wrapped in a cloth or bound in bands. Perfumes and spices were applied if it could be afforded. These spices would be placed next to the body and tucked between the layers of the cloth in which they wrapped the body. Their intent was to get up early, go to the cemetery and properly prepare Jesus’ body for burial by washing and wrapping the spices into the grave clothes.
It had undoubtedly been a long night and when they woke they may well have felt the boulder of grief pressing them against the earth with such weight that they feared they would never be able to get up.
Garrison Keillor said, “Grief always goes on longer than your friends expect and it is stronger than they can appreciate.”
Grief is a young widow trying to raise her three children, alone. Grief is the man so filled with shocked uncertainty and confusion that he strikes out at the nearest person. Grief is a mother walking daily to a nearby cemetery to stand quietly and alone a few minutes before going about the tasks of the day. She knows that a part of her is in the cemetery, just as part of her is in her daily work. Grief is silent, knife-like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there. Grief is the emptiness that comes when you eat alone after eating with another for many years. Grief is teaching yourself to go to bed without saying good night to the one who has died. Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not and never will be again. Grief is a whole cluster of adjustments, apprehensions, and uncertainties that strike life in its forward progress and make it difficult to redirect the energies of life. (Robert Slater, Moscow, Idaho. Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 1.)