|John 20 (NKJV™)|
|11||But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.|
|12||And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.|
|13||Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."|
|14||Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.|
|15||Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."|
|16||Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).|
|17||Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"|
|18||Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
When people grieve, they usually run the gamut of the emotional spectrum, from denial to bargaining to despair to anger to eventually hope. Mary Magdalene was in hopeless despair as she stood weeping by the grave of Jesus. The resurrected Christ deals tenderly with this woman as he reveals Himself to her and conveys hope for her future. Let's glean some principles for dealing with brokenhearted people.
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Figures referenced: W. Graham Scroggie; Billy Graham; J.C. Ryle
Cross references: Psalm 30:5; Psalm 56:8; Ecclesiastes 3:4; Matthew 28:2; Matthew 28:20; Luke 24:16; John 10:3; John 11:35; John 20:1; Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 13:7; 1 Corinthians 15:43-44; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5; Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 1:12; Revelation 21:4
Keywords: grief, hope, resurrection
Would you turn in you Bible this morning to the Gospel of John Chapter 20. As you are making your way there, I'll underscore the announcement that you are invited to a movie tonight at our Lobo campus downtown where we show a film. It is Cinema Sunday to great film that has really good family and Gospel massage tied to it, with class A actors in it. And we think it is great, you just bring your friends, bring your family, bring your kids, I wouldn't bring your pets, leave those at home.
But come out and enjoy a movie, free of charge. Bring somebody who doesn't know the Lord but would go to an event like this. They might not go to a churchly event but they come to a movie theater. Jessie Lesco is going to present a short Gospel message afterwards that would be right aimed at the heart and it's going to be excellent. So we invite you out for that tonight, free of charge and the Lobo Theater.
John Chapter 20, Verse 11; "But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. And as she weeps, she stood down and looked into the tomb and she saw two angles in white siting; one at the head, the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain. And then they said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.' Now once she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' She, supposing him to be the gardener said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned and said to him 'Rabboni'; which is to say teacher. Jesus said to her, 'Do not claim to me for I have not yet ascended to my Father but go the my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' Mary Magdalene came and told the Disciples that she had seen the Lord and that she had spoken these things to her."
Would you pray with me? Lord the text that we are considering is just so wonderful, as we read a woman who comes to the understanding that the one that she loved more that anyone else on this earth is now alive. When she have thought there was finality in His death. Many of us can relate to the story. Maybe not on the level of somebody that we thought was dead is now alive but somebody who is broken hearted and needs comfort. Who needs hope weak rekindled. Who is in despair in sorrow? And I pray Lord that if that describes us or if we know somebody who is there that you would help us to be raised to a higher level to the teaching of your word in Jesus name. Amen.
Some of the best advice I ever heard on dealing with people who are in grief is a simple statement that says, "Walk softly around a broken heart." Broken hearted people are fragile people. Broken hearted people are emotionally distressed people. Broken hearted people need hope and hope is a process. We have a story about a woman who is living there. She is in sorrow. She is in deep distress, depression you might even say. And Jesus comes along and through a simple and quick process brings her immense hope.
There is a journey that a person takes from despair to hope and somebody who's ever counseled grieving people knows that intuitively. And patiently, we'll take the person from step to step to bring that person into hope. Mary Magdalene come to the tomb and the stone have been rolled away. She thought somebody stole the body. She was wrong. There had been a resurrection. She is about to discover that her assumptions were wrong. The body hasn't been stollen. It hasn't been taken and placed somewhere else, but she is going to discover that.
I have a story that I wanted to read to you. Supposedly a true a story from Sarasota, Florida based upon the police records. An elderly Florida lady did her shopping and upon returning to her car, she found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at top of her lungs, "I have a gun and I know how to use it get out of the car." Nice little old lady.
The four men didn't wait for a second threat. They've got out and ran like mad. The lady is somewhat shaken and proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and got into the driver sit. She was so shaken that she couldn't get her key into the ignition. She tried and tried and then she realized why. It was for the same reason she had wondered why there was a Football and Frisbee and two packs of beer in the front sit.
A few minutes later, she found her own car parked four or five spaces further down. She loaded her bags into the car and drove to the police station to report her mistake. The sergeant to whom she told the story couldn't stop laughing. He pointed to the end of the counter where four pale men, who were reporting a car jacking. Get this by a mad elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, with glasses, curly white hair, carrying a large hand gun. No charges were filed. That is the best senior moment I've ever heard of right there.
Oops, wrong car. Now that woman thought her car had been stolen. She was wrong. Mary Magdalene thought that her Lord had been stolen. She was wrong. Now fortunately, the police chief and the four pale men, dealt very tenderly and compassionately with this elderly woman with the handgun. And fortunately, Jesus Christ deals very lovingly, mercifully, compassionately with Mary Magdalene who also was wrong.
As we look at the text today, there are principles that I want you see about handling people who are grieving or in sorrow or distressed or who are depressed. Those who are suffered great loss. Four principles. The first principle is probably the most obvious and that is crying is natural. Crying is natural. We find in Verse 11 that Mary stood outside by the tomb. Here is the weeping, it means to wail loudly. Not like sniffling a little bit, wiping a few tears. She lost it.
Now let's go back in time just a little bit to the night before. I tend to think that Mary Magdalene didn't get much sleep the night before. She was tossing and turning and every little noise she heard woke her up and the visions of the Crucifixion. The blood flowing down the face of Jesus, it shook her. It woke her up. It messed with her. And finally, she got up early and she went to the tomb. Chapter 20, Verse 1 uses the term early in the morning. And that is a term I mentioned last week for the fourth watch of the night, somewhere between 3am and 6am she gets up and goes. Sabbath is over. She couldn't live on the Sabbath. You can't walk according to Jewish Law more than two thirds of a mile, that's over now she goes. She goes to the tomb.
Jewish morning lasts a period of one month, 30 days. That's the period they core about to deal emotionally with the lost of a love one, 30 days. The first seven days are the more intense. During the first seven days, the survivors, they don't bathe. They don't anoint themselves with oil or any products. They don't wear shoes. They don't engage in business or study. They basically looked disheveled. That's their way of saying, "I'm mourning. Somebody that I loved has died and the wailing is not contained.
It is very loud and vociferous. There is the tearing of the garments to signify a broken or tearing heart. There is sock cloth that is put on the body and ashes that are sprinkled on the head and over the sock cloth, to say that this person is in deep mourning. Even Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, you know it well. There is a time to weep and there is a time to laugh. There is a time to mourn and there is a time to dance. This is Mary's time to weep and to mourn. It is very natural. That there is even a Jewish legend that's says in honor of Mary Magdalene was into this but she could of fallen into that superstition.
Many Jewish people believed at that time that the spirit of the departed person actually hovered over the grave for 3 days, seeking to reenter the body. But that on the 4th day, because decomposing has well set in that the spirit departs. There is no hope for returning. Of course they never had that happen. So the idea of that was we want to get as close to the deceased person to that body as possible during the first 3 days.
So she comes the first day of the week Chapter 20, Verse 1, she finds he stone has been rolled away. She freaks out. She runs and tells the disciples. The Disciples being John and Peter ran to the tomb. John beat Peter, wrote is down so everybody would know forever and ever. So by the time Mary gets to the tomb, Peter and John had left and she is all alone. You can see that in Verse 10 and 11.
Then the disciples went away again to their own home. So obviously, they didn't cross pass with Mary who was going into the tomb. She comes back. Mary stood outside by the tomb loudly wailing. And as she weeps, she stooped down and she looked into the tomb. She just stop and just broke down.
Tears have a language all their own they don't need interpretations and her tears flowed freely because crying is natural. God designed us to cry. You have around the orbits of your eye. Lacrimal glands they are called. They secrete a serum into the eyes to lubricate the eyeball, to take away foreign bodies. They're attached to the emotional centers of the brain. If you are very, very happy usually when you are very, very sad, they emit more serum, more water, tears freely.
It is natural it is normal. In fact it is unhealthy to suppress that. One doctor noted that suppressed sorrow can wreck havoc on the entire nervous system. And even sited one patient of his that died of Ulcerative Colitis because she suppressed grief when her father had died and yet, what do people say when somebody is crying usually? "Don't cry". Why not? Or the little boys who are crying, "Big boys don't cry". Really? Did their lacrimal glands fall out?
So by the time that little boy gets to be aged 12, he thinks that crying is not masculine. Really, it is not masculine? What do you do with Jesus in Chapter 11 of John, shortest verse in the New Testament, "Jesus wept."? Wept. Jesus wept. The man, the son of God wept and He seems to notice all the times when we weep. Until finally in Revelation, "There were be no more tears," but until then, there will be in God takes note of it.
David's writes poetically in Plasm 56, "You have collected all tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Imagine that. It's as if he writes it down. He takes notice of the times that you shed tears.
Every Pastor knows that when there is deep distress, every counselor knows when there is grief happening, when there is lost in a person's life, the most natural thing is for tears to flow.
One Pastor by the name of Charles Graham Scroggie who pastored, get this, in England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, the United States and Canada. Oh and by the way, eventually took over Charles Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.
He's pastored a lot of people in his life time. He seen a lot of people die and get buried and work with grieving families. And he writes these words, "Let grief do its work. Tramp every inch of the sorrowful way. Drink every drop of the bitter cup. To see things, our loved ones have left behind will give us daily pain. The cloths they wore, the letters they wrote, the books they read, the chairs they sat in, the music they loved. But what would we be without these reminders? Those who truly love will say they have found in sorrow in a new kind of joy, a joy which only the broken hearted can know." There is nothing wrong crying. It is therapy for a broken heart. But tears can never blind a person, must never blind the person, and should never blind the person from the truth, the eternal truth. Heaven, all of those kinds of far reaching truths and sometimes they can.
Brings us to our second point, not only as crying natural and grief questions are helpful. Look at Verse 13, "Then they said to her," these are the angels now talking. The angel said, "Woman, why are you weeping?" Do you find that a strange question? Let see. A woman at a graveyard crying, is that so weird? Would you walk up to a woman at a local cemetery who is crying in front of a grave? Would you walk over her and go, "Hey, why are you crying?" You better not. But the question is this, "Woman, why are you weeping?" And she said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him."
Jesus will ask the same questions to her and then a follow up question after that. First of all, the angels talk to her. If you were to compare this with Luke and Mark's account, they don't call them angles but men, there were men there. That's because they were angels sent from God, special messengers out of heaven but they were allowed by God to take a human form at that time. Because when people see angels and their glory, they usually, what? Freak out. So there are a couple men their dressed in white, but they're actually angels, John describes to us.
Thirty-four books of the Bible talked about angels, 17 in the Old Testament, 17 in the New Testament. They're all over the Bible. They are God's secret agents, Billy Graham calls them. They show up in the life and ministry of Jesus at very specific and important times like his annunciation announcement. The announcement of His conception, His birth that was given to Joseph and Mary by an angel, at His birth, angels hovered over Bethlehem and gave that announcement. The Messiah has come. At Jesus temptation, the angels came ministered to him. And here at the resurrection, they are here to announce that Jesus is alive. It seems that angels are very, very interested in our salvation.
Peter writes in first Peter 1, "These are things," that is our salvation, "these are things which angels desire to look into." I think we are a marvel to the angels. I think they marvel at God's love. You love them that much? You love these creatures? That you would do that for them? And then I think they look at us sometimes they go, "I don't get it? How come these people like don't really rely on God and don't turn to God and pray more and love more? They just can't figure us out." These are things the angels desire to look into.
Something else I found out. I hope you will find this interesting as I did. We never find angels sitting except at the resurrection. They're always like busy, right. They're doing stuff. They're working. They're active. It is at the resurrection only that we find angels sitting down. They're just like hanging out. There is one on this side of that bench where Jesus' body was and one at the other side of the bench.
Oh and Matthew tells us that the stone that was rolled away from that tomb, there is an angle sitting on that, just sitting there. Waiting for people to come by, I don't know if they were eating angel food cake before they've got there or what.
Okay, so, this what my mind does. When I read about an angel on this side, an angel on that side where Jesus' body was, my mind goes back to the Old Testament to the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle. Are you following me? Remember on the Mercy Seat of the ArK of the Covenant, there were two angels one on one side and one on the other side and the wing span over. And God said, "The only place that I'm going to meet with you is on that Mercy seat." Jesus Christ in the New Testament is the Mercy seat. The only place God will meet with a human being is over a person of the Lord Jesus Christ and that symbolically a set forth here.
Look at Verse 14, "Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there and didn't know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' She is supposing him to the gardener said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him'." Please listen carefully as if you've never read this before. "Tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away." Yeah right. Frail little Mary is going to carry the dead weight of an adult man somewhere. Let's say, she could. Let's say this is like Brunhilda, this chick can lift big weight, "Where you have laid him?" Where is she going to take the body?
Well that is sort of my point. When you love somebody like Mary loved Jesus, you don't care about those impossibilities. You don't care about those questions, "I'm going to deal with it. Just tell where he is and I will take him." First Corinthians 13, that great love chapter, 1 Verse in the Phillips translation is rendered, "Love knows no limits to its endurance. No ends to its trust. No fading of its hope."
Now think about these two questions. Question number one, how come you are crying? Question number two, who are you looking for? The angels ask the first question. Jesus asked it again and adds a question. This is Jesus typical method asking the question to direct the thinking or redirect the thinking to a proper line of thinking to elevate that person eventually to a place of trust, the higher level. Why are you crying? Now we know why she is crying because she thinks somebody had stolen the body. But asking the question it's as if Jesus is saying, "Mary, could there be another explanation from an empty tomb other than the body was stolen like a resurrection?" How come you are crying? And then the second question, "Who are you looking for? What kind of a Messiah are you expecting Mary? She is looking for a corpse. She does not believe has risen from the dead and right in front of her is Jesus looking eyeball to eyeball with her.
J.C. Ryle writes, "Two-thirds of the things we fear in life never happen at all and two-thirds of the tears we shed are thrown away and shed in vain." Here is the principle and here is what I have discovered. When a person is in a trial, suffering, grief, despair, broken hearted, depressed, whale(ph) a place questions will help redirect their thinking. Ask the right questions, don't get preachy. Walk softly around the broken heart. But questions like this if they've lost someone, what did you have admired most about that person? Get them thinking those thoughts. What will you miss the most? What is the greatest lesson they taught you in their life? Or what do you think that person wants you to do now? How would they want you to think and react? If they have lost their finances or their home, maybe a question like, "Okay, at this point in your life today, what is the most valuable thing that you have? Or what is the most valuable to you at this point?"
Get them to evaluate and think. Just whale a place, whale of a time questions can redirect the thinking and raise a person to a higher level of faith.
Here is the third principle, comprehension is gradual. Verse 16, "Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned and said to him Rabboni; which is to say teacher." Okay let me kind of give you a flow of events here. Because it says in Verse 16, "She turned and said to him." So this is what I think happen. This is how, as I see it. She comes to the tomb at this time. She is weeping, she is crying, she looks inside. There are these two dudes who ask her a question, how come you are crying? And she says, "Because they have taken away my Lord and I don't know where they've laid him." And she is talking to them stooping down inside the tomb. Jesus is behind her outside.
How she knew Jesus was there? We're not sure. Maybe the angels went, look. Or she heard footsteps. She turns away form the tomb, turns toward Jesus. Who says, "How come you are crying? Who are you looking for?" And she said, "Look, if you've taken him away, tell me where and I'll get him." And then at that point, she must have turned away from Jesus back towards the tomb, buried her head in her hands and just started weeping again because one word was given that reeled around. She turned around again to Jesus and she recognizes Him. One word, one word and all of her fears, all of her sorrow, all of her discontent was melted away. One word and she instantly recognized Jesus and it was her name. And it was probably said in a familiar tone. The tone Jesus always use when talking to her maybe it was like, "Mary". It was that familiar tone that brought her reeling around, recognizing that this was Jesus.
We know that hearing is one of the strongest memory triggers that we have. Smell and hearing are -- if you hear a song or if you hear a word, it takes you back to an episode, especially your name. Because your name is the access point to your personality, it is your name. If you have ever been in a crowd where people are talking to one another in several conversations, you really don't hear what they are saying. But if somebody mentions your name, you recognize that. You hear that. The way Jesus said her name brought her recognition.
I have a question. Why she didn't just recognize Jesus visibly? He was standing right there. That mystifies a lot of people when they read this, "I don't get this? How come she didn't recognize Him?" Let me give you few reasons. Number one, she is crying okay. Give her a break. She has tears in her eyes. She is emotionally distressed. She is all been out of shape because she thinks the body has been stolen. And number four, which should be really number one, the last one she expects to see standing in front of her is Jesus.
She thinks he is dead. Now, she might have thought, "That guy kind of looks a lot like Jesus. It can't be him." Here is another reason. Jesus is now on his resurrected body. Very different from what she saw a couple of days ago on that cross that horrible bloodied scene. In a resurrected body, He looked different. In First Corinthians 15, we are told, "The body is sown in corruption but raised in incorruption. It is sown in weakness but t is raised in power."
Let me give you another reason. It could be that she was super naturally kept from recognizing Jesus. That shouldn't surprise you. Luke, Chapter 24 the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, it says, "They were restrained form recognizing Him." They didn't know it was Him.
Okay, pause for a moment and consider this. Because a lot you can relate to this. Jesus is right there and she doesn't recognize Him. How many times has Jesus been close to you and you think, "He is so far away, He like went on vacation. He left town." When Jesus promised, He would never leave you or forsake you. He would be with you always to the end of the age. What has happened? Your circumstance, your sorrow has clouded your view of reality. All you can think about is your grieving and your situation, but He is still there. He hasn't moved.
How did Mary recognized Jesus? Not by sight but by? Voice. By sound. She saw Him but did not recognize Him. She heard His voice, she recognized Him. Does that bring up the principle to you? Romans 10, "Faith comes by hearing not by seeing." "Well, if I only saw something." Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Jesus says, "I'm the good shepherd." The good shepherd calls his sheep by name and they recognize his voice. "Mary," "My teacher." The sheep has recognized the voice of the shepherd. How did she know that voice? How did she know that voice? Anybody? She heard it before. Thank you. She heard it before.
She recognize the voice because she has been in the presence of Jesus long enough to recognize it. How do you recognize the voice of God? Well, you've got to spend time with Him. The longer you spend time listening to the voice of God in scripture as he speaks, you will recognize the voice. And you will be able to tell the difference between the voice of God and the voice of your mother's tapes playing in your mind or the voice of the media or the voice of your peers or the voice of false prophets, you'd be able to go, "That's the voice of Jesus, it is unmistakable. I have been in His presence. I have spent time in His word, I hear it." The comprehension was gradual but she eventually got it.
Here is the fourth principle for those dealing with the trial like this. Commission is needful. That is people who are broken hearted, distressed, confused, discouraged, depressed sometimes need a task to be given to them. Look at Verse 17, "Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to my father but go to my brethren and say to them I'm ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God.' Mary Magdalene came and told to the Disciples that he had seen that Lord and that he had spoken these things to her." Now why did Jesus say don't cling to me? Literally, He is saying, "Stop fastening yourself to me."
What do you think Mary did when she recognized Jesus? I think she grabbed Him. What would you do if somebody you thought was dead was now alive and standing in front of you? Would you go, "Hi, knuckles dude! Nice to see you."? You would grab that person and she probably put a dense grip on Jesus like, "I'm never letting you go again." Probably, she is grabbing Him so tight and here is Jesus saying, "Stop fastening yourself to me. You have known me only in this relationship. I'm going to be around here for another 40 days." That's how long it took before He ascended to His father.
"In the mean time, I have something I want you to do. I want you to go to my brethren and give them this message." She was elevated to a place that Jesus gave to her of a commission, a mission that he would send her on. "I want you to bring this message to them. I could do it myself but I'm giving you this task for you to do."
Oh by the way, this is the first time Jesus ever refers His Apostles, His disciples as my brethren. Up until now, it has been, you are my friends, you are my servants, never you are my brethren. Now he calls them His brethren, why? Because He has died on the cross, paid the prize for redemption, making this new relationship possible, were adopted sons and daughters of God. And Hebrews too says, "God or Jesus is not ashamed to call them brethren." "Go tell my brethren," I could think He couldn't wait to say that, my brethren, "that I'm going to my God and your God, my father and your father."
Giving a task to someone who is depressed or broken hearted is part of restoring their hope and it is simple as to why. Grief, sorrow, discouragement are all very consuming activities. They require lots of attention, they absorb all of your energy and a person in those situations can become hopeless and listless and unmotivated and just so down they say, "I can't do anything."
I visited a girl sometime back. She was on suicide watch. She tried to take her life. I was brought in to speak with her. I spoke with her for a couple of hours and at the end of it, I said, "There is something I want you to do for me." And her first response is, "I can't do anything." I said, "You can do this. It is a little assignment, it is very simple but I'm going to ask you to do something for me and as soon as you are done with that task, I want you to call me. Here is my number personally. Call me and tell me when you have completed that." And she goes, "Okay, I will try." But she did it and she called me. She says, "I did it." I said, "That is excellent. You did such a great job. Now there is something else I want you to do." and I gave her another one and then I gave her another task.
Eventually, what I've got her to do is to find somebody who is in a very needy situation and tell her story to them and how she got hope. And what that did, those task helped elevate her to a place of, "I have purpose. I'm useful. I'm doing something." And it quickly helped bring her out of that funk that she had been living in for so long.
So these are good principles when you encounter somebody who is being buffeted by these trials. You always bring in hope. You always redirect their thinking. It could be a question. It could be a task. The scripture that comes to mind as an overarching scripture to this passage is Psalm 30 that says, "Weeping man, doer for a night but joy comes in the morning. Let them emote. Let them cry but then direct their thinking from the temporal to the eternal. Little task, little task but always with the view of now look to the horizon and see what you have to face in your eternal future as the prime motivator."
Let me close with a story about a woman who taught that to her Pastor. She went to the doctor. The doctor said, "You have a terminal illness. You have three months to live." True story, I met the man last night who attend to this funeral. She went home from the doctor. She knew she had roughly three months to live. Liver cancer was going to take her and it did. She got her house in order, told her friends, her relatives. They went through those stages of planning and weeping.
She went to her Pastor. She said, "This is what I want at my funeral. I want these songs to be sung. I want these scriptures to be read." And she said, "There is one final thing I want you to do at this funeral. Promise me you will do it. I want you to place a fork in my right hand." And he gave her one of those looks like -- I really want to ask you but I don't know if I should. He had this look like, "I don't get this." So she smile and she said, "I know what you are thinking. Here is why I wanted you to do this. All through my life whenever I've gone to church, publics or socials, whenever there is a dinner, they serve the meal, inevitably someone will say after you eat the meal, "Hold on to your fork. Which means they're going to serve up dessert, the good stuff is coming." You know the chocolate cake and the apple pie.
"Hold on to your fork. So, Pastor I want you to promise me to place a fork in my right hand and I want the casket open and I want people filing by my casket before you give the message. And they're going to look in the casket and see a fork and they're going to think, "Why is there a fork in her hand?" And they're going to go back to their sits and then I want you to preach the message and you tell them this, "The best is yet to come." Hold on to your fork because the best is yet to come.
Here is a woman who lived with all the trial she lived with knowing with fork in hand, the best is yet to come and you thing about that. And you think about that when you go to lunch today and pick up your fork and you will never forget as you grab that fork, "Hold on to your fork. The best is yet to come."
Father we know this to be true. We cannot turn to a page and scripture without getting that brought to our attention especially in the Gospels with Jesus who is always thinking of not just that moment but that moment means in the skim of all moments and into eternity itself.
And we consider how Jesus handle this woman who is so broken hearted, so many tears have been shed in that last 24-hour period by this woman and Jesus saw that. And though these tears were natural, questions asked to elevate the way she process her life in her events and then she recognize Jesus. There was light at the end of the tunnel, but a task was given that helped her feel that she was important. That she lived with purpose. That she had an eternal job to do that's getting her eyes fixed on something more important than what she had been dealing with. All very, very practical and help us as your ambassadors to walk softly around a broken heat, in Jesus name. Amen.