Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. -Mark 16:2-4
God is in the construction business. He specializes actually in removing and rolling stones away and then replacing and rebuilding with something new and gloriously beautiful. Today, on Easter Sunday, as we remember the stone that was rolled away out of which Jesus emerged to new life, I pray the same will happen for you. Whatever “very large” stone has trapped you or is crushing you, may it be removed in Jesus’ name! May you experience His resurrection and victorious power.
Here are five stones Jesus still rolls away:
- The stone of sin, guilt, condemnation and shame.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal (to roll) to this day. -Joshua 5:9
Egypt became a symbolic picture for the Israelites of their former slavery and bondage. It represented the world system to which they were captive. It was a reminder of their shame. Before they could experience the joy, blessing and victory of the promised land to which God had led them, He first “rolled away the reproach of Egypt” from them.
This is a burden we likewise carry that God wants to roll away from our lives too. It’s a stone that weighs us down. Guilt, shame and condemnation in regard to our past can be a “very large stone” that we can’t remove in our own strength. But as we “look up” at Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross in our place; our sin, guilt and condemnation is “rolled away” from us. We are forgiven in Christ. We are free in Christ. We are declared innocent in Christ. Our past no longer controls us. We are no longer slaves to sin but alive in Christ! We have been delivered. We have been made to be the children of God. Let God roll away from you the shame you bear, the guilt you carry, the sin that weighs you down, the condemnation that belittles you. The blood of Jesus cleanses and delivers!
2. The stone of doubt and unbelief.
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. -Acts 1:3
There is no doubt (pun intended) that the Resurrection of Jesus is something supernatural and miraculous. This makes it hard for us to believe. But consider this: when you weigh all the evidence and possible explanations, the most logical is in fact that He rose from the dead! If God is really God, wouldn’t He be able to do that which we cannot? If He indeed created the world out of nothing, why can He not also give life to the dead?
One of the things that makes the resurrection credible in my opinion is that not even his own disciples were easily convinced! It took multiple appearances and various proofs for the truth to really sink it. Maybe today, the “stone of unbelief” in your heart needs rolled away. Faith is not belief in “superstition” but rather a firm conviction that grows out of acceptance of the truth, in light of evidence.
3. The stone of sadness, sorrow and confusion.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). -John 20:11-16
Mary was confused. Mary was filled with sorrow and sadness over the death of Jesus. But her tears were blurring her vision of the Resurrected Savior standing right in front of her! She was blind to the new life that had just begun. Jesus wants to heal our hearts, turn our sorrow into laughter and wipe our tears away. How does He do this?
He calls our name.
Let me explain. Mary did not recognize Jesus until He spoke her name in the tender power and authority that only He can speak to our hearts by. For Mary, it wasn’t the evidence of the empty tomb that convinced her; it was rather the voice of Jesus speaking to her personally that “rolled the stone of sadness away.”
For many people it’s not simply intellectual evidence they need. They need a word from the Lord. They need to hear him call their name. May you hear his voice calling your name today and may His voice roll all sadness and sorrow away, filling you with joy and laughter.
4. The stone of fear.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” -John 20:19
Jesus wants to roll away the stone of fear that would cause you to isolate yourself and turn you inward. So many of us are bound by our fears. Fear of what others might think of us or do to us. Fear of being rejected or even persecuted. How does Jesus roll the stone of fear away from our lives? By his presence and impartation of His peace to our hearts!
The disciples had locked the doors. Some of us have likewise closed our hearts out of fear. However, this didn’t stop Jesus! Locked doors keep us in, but they don’t keep Jesus out! His presence is what delivers us from all our fears. His peace, which passes understanding, is what guards our heart from fear, instead of fear holding us prisoner.
May the presence of Jesus and peace of Jesus rule in your heart and overcome all your fears! By the way, this didn’t just happen once, but two Sunday’s in a row. We continually need the presence of Jesus and peace of Jesus to appear in our midst when we gather together with one another. This is indeed the very thing Jesus promised, that where even one or two gather together in his name, there He is in their midst!
5. The stone of disappointment.
As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. -Luke 24:15-17
Several of the disciples on the road to Emmaus found themselves interacting with a stranger who began walking with them. That “stranger” was actually someone they knew quite well, but in their disappointment didn’t recognize! Disappointment has the power to blind us from the reality of the person of Jesus walking right alongside us!
Jesus wants to roll away the stone of disappointment that blinds us to seeing him. Disappointment and disillusionment comes from misplaced or misguided expectations. The disciples were correct that Jesus was indeed the one they hoped would redeem Israel. The problem however, was what that redemption would look like! They expected a Messiah that would politically and physically free them from Roman occupation. They didn’t expect a King who would die on a cross. They didn’t see their need for a redemption from an enemy greater than the Romans; that of the sin of their (and our) own hearts.
When life disappoints, or God doesn’t work as we expect, it can blind us from the greater and deeper thing God is doing! What was bad news to them, was actually the beginning of the greatest news of all!
How does Jesus roll away the stone of disappointments in our lives? He takes us deeper in His Word and opens our minds to understand Scripture, or the ways of God. And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27). The result was this: They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
When you don’t understand, take a closer and deeper look into the Word of God. Let Jesus teach you. Let him reignite a fire in your heart. Let him open your eyes to the word and ways of God. His ways are not our ways and we ought to thank him for that, because what he has in mind is greater than our biggest disappointments in life! Over time that reality will unfold before us if we stay close to him and allow him to open our eyes to that which we cannot perceive apart from him.
May you know today the reality of the Resurrected Jesus. May He roll whatever stones away from your life that need rolled away. May you emerge in a new way with new life infused into you by the power of his resurrection!