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For the Love of a Lie

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It's so easy to believe a lie, we'd rather do that even when we know better

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Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 5028 A Tree out of Her Grave

In Tewin churchyard, a short distance from King’s Cross Station, in England, stands a great four-trunked tree growing out of a grave. Its presence there has given rise to much speculation among the residents of that section. The grave from which it grows is that of Lady Anne Grimston.

Is the tree a monument to a woman’s disbelief or did it happen to grow there merely by chance? Nobody knows.

Lady Anne Grimston did not believe in life after death. When she lay dying in her palatial home, she said to a friend, “I shall live again as surely as a tree will grow from my body.”

She was buried in a marble tomb. The grave was marked by a large marble slab, and surrounded by an iron railing. Years later the marble slab was found to be moved a little. Then it cracked, and through the crack a small tree grew.

The tree continued to grow, tilting the stone and breaking the marble masonry until today it has surrounded the tomb with its roots, and has torn the railing out of the ground with its massive trunk. The tree at Lady Anne Grimston’s grave is one of the largest in England.

Was it mere chance that caused the tree to grow there? Perhaps God the Almighty took her challenge.

—Pastor’s Manual

Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 5028 A Tree out of Her Grave

In Tewin churchyard, a short distance from King’s Cross Station, in England, stands a great four-trunked tree growing out of a grave. Its presence there has given rise to much speculation among the residents of that section. The grave from which it grows is that of Lady Anne Grimston.

Is the tree a monument to a woman’s disbelief or did it happen to grow there merely by chance? Nobody knows.

Lady Anne Grimston did not believe in life after death. When she lay dying in her palatial home, she said to a friend, “I shall live again as surely as a tree will grow from my body.”

She was buried in a marble tomb. The grave was marked by a large marble slab, and surrounded by an iron railing. Years later the marble slab was found to be moved a little. Then it cracked, and through the crack a small tree grew.

The tree continued to grow, tilting the stone and breaking the marble masonry until today it has surrounded the tomb with its roots, and has torn the railing out of the ground with its massive trunk. The tree at Lady Anne Grimston’s grave is one of the largest in England.

Was it mere chance that caused the tree to grow there? Perhaps God the Almighty took her challenge.

Tan, Paul Lee. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996.
True story? Probably not. Oh, the growth of the tree is true, but the rest? Lady Anne was born in 1654 and died in 1713. She was given a church funeral and buried at St. Peter Churchyard in Tewin, England. This would have been quite unusual for a professed unbeliever. In addition, there are expense records that show how she spent money every week to travel to church so that she could worship. Today, however, pastors love to tell the story about the lady whose deathbed burst of insolence was rebuked by a tree. I guess a good story is just hard to pass up, even if it is false.
Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a Word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Like that story, our Gospel text carries with it a story that people just love to pass on. Since last Sunday, we have been commemorating and meditating upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Our Gospel text, , ends a thrilling story on a curious note:
Mark 16:1–8 ESV
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
The Resurrection
You might be amazed by what I’m about to say, but just bear with me. On that Sunday morning, there wasn’t a soul in Jerusalem that believed that Jesus had got up from the grave. I know that as sure as I know that there are people today who don’t believe it either.
16 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome didn’t believe it. They were on their way to anoint the body, and were wondering who was going to roll away the stone from the mouth of the tomb.
The soldiers who had been posted as guards didn’t believe it.

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5

Matthew 28:2–4 ESV
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
Mark 16:1–8 ESV
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
But what what happens shortly thereafter: “some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), .
Those soldiers, witnesses to the most miraculous event in human history, were bought off by some chump change!
Not even the disciple who first confessed Jesus as the Christ, who heard three times - THREE TIMES - exactly what was going to happen, OR “the one whom Jesus loved,” went to that tomb on Sunday morning believing that Christ was risen.

So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

So, take your pick: They feared, they lied, they didn’t understand. There are no heroes in this narrative, saints. No courageous souls who “Stand up, stand up for Jesus!” No one who looked at the empty tomb and said “He is risen - He is risen indeed. Hallelujah!”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), .
Faced with clear evidence, they all fell back on human nature:
“For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), .
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), .
We haven’t done any better. We aren’t telling our neighbor that Christ "was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
//////////
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), .
We look at the empty tomb, we hear the words of the angel, but like the women, we faithfully fear what might happen next. Too afraid to boldly declare the Good News of Jesus Christ. To afraid to declare the righteous, holy and good Commandments of our God - except to beat someone over the head with them, or stab someone through the heart as we use them as our reason to reject them as a person instead of seeking their reconciliation, “considering ourselves lest we be tempted also.”
The truth is, the more cluttered up your heart is with the cares of life, the deceitfulness of riches, the more you need to understand that the grave is empty, your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, and you can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.
Lord knows, we need help today, don’t we? We don’t know where our government is going, whether we look locally, statewide or nationally. We don’t know where our economic situation is going, whether it’s personally or in terms of our community. We don’t know where our relationships are going, whether at home our online. We don’t know much of anything, it seems, anymore.
But we can know this: Jesus Christ is risen today! Hallelujah!!!
The Scriptures cannot be broken! Jesus said it, and His word is solid as a rock! The forgiveness of sins is real! Reconciliation is real! New Obedience is real! It’s all for real, and it’s here all for you. It’s as easy as opening your mouth and receiving bread. As easy as opening your ears and receiving the promise. It’s so easy, even a baby can do it.
Today, the angel of the Lord calls you, just like he called Mary Magdalene to come and see. Come and see that the Lord is faithful, that His bride is faithful to Him, and His servants will be faithful to you, and by the power of His spirit, you can be faithful to Him as well, just as those who have gone before you.
The devil’s lies kept an entire nation from receiving their blessing, but it isn’t too late for you. Today, if you hear His voice: do not harden your hearts...
And let the piece of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
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