April 5, 2015: Who Will Roll the Stone Away?

Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this great and glorious day we join with all the saints in heaven and on earth in praising Your holy name! For today You once again announce to the world that You have destroyed the power of our greatest enemy: death. You have risen to life and now because You live, we will live also. To that we all say: Amen, Amen, and Amen!

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR RISEN AND VICTORIOUS SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST!

TEXT: Mark 16: 1-8

Dearly Beloved By Our Resurrected Savior:

The Lord is Risen! (He is risen, indeed!) Do you know where that Christian greeting comes from? It originated with our lesson for today. It was the angel’s greeting to the women when they first arrived at the tomb. Historically, we can trace it back to the Byzantine Church, probably going as far back as the year 400 AD. We cannot say with any certainty that the women responded to the angel’s message with: He is risen, indeed! But certainly they came to embrace that truth in the subsequent days. Isn’t it wonderful to be a part of Godly history?

I find it fascinating and instructive that although some of the men prepared Christ’s body for burial on Good Friday, the women were the first on scene at Easter to complete the job. Generally speaking, women are more detail oriented than men, aren’t they? And amid all their grief over Christ’s death, one very serious question haunted them as they journeyed at sunrise to the tomb. “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” No doubt it was very large and very heavy. It was situated on a slanted furrow in the earth and rock, so pushing a ton or more of weight uphill would have been problematic for them. And unless and until the stone was rolled back they were basically helpless. Yet, they go anyway because they just had to do it. They had to find a way to carry out showing respect, ultimate respect for their Savior. “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.” God provides. He sent an angel to provide. And most importantly, the risen Christ provided by using His omnipotence to flick that huge rock away like a fly!

Today I want to focus you on the application of what Easter means in your life by pondering and answering their question:

WHO WILL ROLL THE STONE AWAY?

I

These women were just like you and me. They were human. They had frailties and faults. They also had other stones, huge stones, blocking their pathway through life—all personified by this weighty grave stone. The first of those stones was the stone of grief.

Mary Magdalene, Mary, or Miriam, sister of Christ’s mother and Cleopas’ wife, along with Salome—they were first on scene that fateful morning. They had all been touched by Jesus throughout their lives. Mary, James’ mother and Christ’s aunt, had known Him since He was born. They had seen His miracles. They had experienced His power and kind heart. Through Christ, the Word made flesh, the Spirit had worked saving faith in their hearts. Jesus was their future, their eternal future. But with Good Friday, all their hopes and dreams had come crashing down. With Him their hopes died. Their dreams of eternal life died. And their human hearts ached and screamed with emotional pain. Grief was etched on their faces.

So, Who could roll away their stone of grief? Jesus! Not the dead Jesus but the risen Jesus! And He did just that. We know from our lesson that this didn’t happen instantaneously. It took a while to sink in. We’re told after the angel spoke to them: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” Grief and then the solution to it takes a while to process, doesn’t it? And yet, we know that this weighty stone was rolled away because later on they are overjoyed at it all and tell the disciples all about it. Next time grief weighs heavy on you remember the women. Remember Easter. For Easter will always roll back the stone of grief—all grief because the Lord is risen! (He is risen, indeed!)

II

Another challenging stone for them and us today is: the stone of helplessness. They were troubled by their helplessness in the face of that heavy stone. Note well that this occurred before they even arrived on scene. If you’re like me, and you are, helplessness is a mind-game that Satan plays on us. We sinners always seem to anticipate the worst long before the facts are all in. We play out imaginary scenarios of bad stuff in life as we march along and often the attendant sense of helplessness paralyzes us. And all this can be traced back to doubt over God’s power and goodness in our lives.

However, Easter rolls away that stone, too. For our glorious God is alive and strong. He is the Helper of the helpless. He conquered Satan, burst the gates of hell, beat sin’s curse into submission, and rose to life for us! That, in essence is the angel’s message to them: “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” This living Lord is the ultimate “Big Brother.” And because He lives, He’s always now present to assist us in every trouble. We’re not helpless any longer.

III

Another stone also needed to be rolled away that day from their lives. It was and still is the: the stone of death. For humans dead is so very final. Death is the great equalizer to life that stalks all of us. Whenever we view death we think of ourselves, what we will face someday, and how we’ll look when it overtakes us. The women went to the tomb knowing they would stare death in the face. It was all so upsetting to say the least. Death brings with it the huge stone of fear. And fear over their future, their eternal future, was avalanching toward them. And then came Easter and the message: “He is risen!” (He is risen, indeed!) Death and its attendant fears were stopped in their tracks. Death and fear were rolled back with that great stone. God’s eternal Son took back His life. He gave us His victory over death. That’s the truth contained in: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” That’s the truth behind Christ’s own words: “Because I live, you will live also!”

If you think about it, there are many more “stones” of human pain which are contained in that huge rock of Golgotha. But, in our resurrected Lord they have all been rolled back. Christ lives! Christ is victorious! We live and are victorious in, with, through, and because of Him, alone. And that, my friends, is why Easter will always live on and be the highpoint of every year in which we draw earthly breath. It’s also why we say once more: “The Lord is risen!” He is risen, indeed. Amen