Paul Harvey made famous, with his engaging radio shows, the expression “and that’s the rest of the story.” Interesting details, remarkable circumstances, suprising details were disclosed through his investigative journalism and creative story-telling.
As Mark concludes his gospel, he provides for us the rest of the story by settling our hearts with the ‘REST’ of the story. The hearts of Christ’s followers are granted ‘rest’ from the distress of the events of Good Friday. Having watched Him suffer and die, the hopes and fears of the disciples are exposed as they assemble in the Upper Room, locking the doors for fear of the Jews.
In recent days the grief shared by families in our circle of contacts has been palpable. The range of circumstances varies immensely, but the sense of loss and grief impacts with a heaviness that seems overwhelming. Our hope rises with the hope of the resurrection. Jesus has conquered death and several eyewitness accounts confirm this amazing reality.
In Mark 16, Mark traces the steps of some of the women who had seen the location of Joseph’s tomb where the body of Jesus was laid to rest. Since the Sabbath had ended, they could ‘work’ and anoint the body which has been quickly buried on Good Friday.
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.” These self-appointed undertakers could demonstrate their grief and care for details which were important for a proper burial.
As they head together to the tomb, they have one question which dominates their thinking. “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” No male disciples seemed to have join them, and it was highly unlikely that Roman soldiers would cooperate with their request for entrance.
Verse 4 catches us off guard with the word “But.” “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.” Whew! Access would be easy. They could anoint His body and move into the next phase of their grief.
What surprises awaited them. “As they entered the tomb….” A white robed young man greets them and utters the most amazing, the most shocking, the most wonderful words. We often read these at Easter as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, but their hope filled message brings joy on any occasion, particularly when our grieving hearts face the suddenness of grief and loss.”
Read them again this day and let them encourage, correct, bless and thril you. Let them sink into your minds, and ponder them throughout this season of your life. Use them like the words of hope in 1 Thessalonains 4:13-18 to encourage and comfort others who so desperately need to hear them.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who WAS crucified. HE HAS RISEN! HE IS NOT HERE. See the place where they laid him. But GO, TELL his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, JUST AS HE TOLD YOU.”
I just finished listening to Tony Bartolucci’s pain-filled sermon on his grief through the death of his beautiful daughter Giana. His transparent anguish mingled with comfort and questions was shared recently in Rochester, New York, where God has called him to serve as a pastor of Clarkson Community Church. I don’t recommend you listen to it unless you have a huge box of facial tissues handy. His reflections trace through the PAST, the PRESENT and the FUTURE.
The message of the angel reflects in these same three ways. The PAST – HE WAS CRUCIFIED. The PRESENT – HE HAS RISEN! The FUTURE – GO, TELL…HE’s GOING AHEAD OF YOU. The Saviour who died has been raised and goes ahead of all those who follow Him! Now, that’s good news! That’s the REST of the story.