He doesn’t know what he believes anymore. All he knows is he’s so sick of feeling numb. He’s tried just about everything, but nothing seems to move him. His heart feels broken somehow. He knows there’s something missing. Nothing thrills him, not for long anyway. Nothing fills him. Slowly, over time, indifference settles in and his heart turns to stone.
She’s convinced that nobody knows because no one can see what’s hidden. The fear that she doesn’t quite measure up paralyzes her. She can’t ever remember feeling wanted or loved or really accepted, so she plasters on a smile to cover it up and soon, her entire identity is concealed by this mask of stone.
He’s not sure how it got so high, but it’s been years now and he can’t even see over it anymore. He is certain it’s impenetrable. The anger-turned-bitterness keeps him from moving around it. He’s stuck. He doesn’t remember how he got here or how this thing came between them, but he stares at it every single day as hopelessness sinks down in between the cracks. He lives here and is convinced he’ll die here behind this wall of stone.
Who will roll away the stone?
As they carried the perfumes and spices they had prepared for Jesus’ body, this is what the women discussed. I wonder what they were feeling as they gathered together before the sun peeked over the horizon. In the quiet stillness, did grief cover all other emotions like a heavy cloak? Was there hope mixed with fear as they hurried to the place where they saw Jesus laid? Or was the discouragement thick like fog in that early morning hour? We only get a hint, one question from their conversation.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 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?” Mark 16:1-3 (NIV)
They weren’t strong enough and the disciples certainly weren’t brave enough. The guards were stationed in front of the tomb, but it would have taken at least twenty men, more than an entire Roman guard to budge that rock. Joseph was the rich man who owned the tomb. After laying Jesus’ body inside, he rolled the stone in front of the entrance. It required little effort to push the stone down the incline, but it was another feat entirely to remove it once it was locked in place. Pilate had ordered the soldiers to seal the stone, making it nearly impossible to move.
Who will roll away the stone?
They were not expecting to see a risen Jesus; they were expecting a dead body and an immovable stone. Yet the stone was rolled back and Jesus was alive. The stone wasn’t removed so He could get out; Jesus didn’t need an exit strategy. That stone was the very first witness of the good news. All who bent down to look inside the tomb could see the evidence of God’s promise. When the Pharisees had told Jesus to silence His disciples, Jesus had replied, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (See Luke 19:40)
God’s message is one of redemption and restoration. Jesus came to revive and transform all things- our relationship with Him, our relationship with ourselves, and our relationships with each other. Only God has the power to go straight into the caves that hold broken hearts, dead relationships, and tarnished dreams and raise each one to life. And when He does, stones will roll.
The angel asked the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (See Luke 24:5) He knew they weren’t looking for the living. They were hauling perfume and spices to anoint a dead body, not a living one. And this makes me wonder, how many times do I visit my own tomb, satisfied just to throw some fragrance on the stench of what’s died rather than believe God can transform it? I settle for a watered-down version of this good news when I try to cover for Jesus and make excuses for why things seem so bleak. I forget so quickly that He died so that my hidden dead things could be redeemed, raised up, and made new.
The friendship that ended in betrayal.
The marriage gone cold.
The dream that’s impossible and incredibly unlikely.
The hope that’s been lost and the joy that’s been stolen.
The heart that no longer believes.
His love reaches there.
Whether it’s a heart of stone, hardened by apathy, a mask that covers up who God says we are, or a wall that barricades us in like prisoners, rolling stones is His business. He is the only One who can handle any stone. And when those stones roll, others will look into the place that once held death with wonder and amazement and maybe a little fear because Jesus is alive.
There is nothing He can’t restore. No relationship, no heart, no dream, no failure. Nothing.
May God roll away what keeps people from seeing Jesus in our lives, and may we be ever aware of the Living One who makes all things new.
He is risen.