We serve the one who can roll the stone away
April 9, 2018
by Evelyn Lemons
As we made our way through the season of Lent, there was a sense of anticipation that somehow on the other side of Lent, the burden would be lifted. We are relieved that the Lenten disciplines are completed. So for the lectionary passage for Easter Sunday, what a great scripture we find in the gospel of Mark 16:1-8. The good news does not ever get to be old news.
For Christians, and many of us who have been Christians a long time, we note that we have read the story of the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ many times. Over the years, we put all of the details from each gospel into one story as it unfolds in our own imagination. But, the gospel of Mark has the distinction of being short and to the point. So for this great story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on that first Easter morning, Mark, the writer, slows down the story to real time, and gives the kind of detail that allows the reader to enter into the story.
What captured my attention this year, after hearing and proclaiming this good news for 52 years, was the good news yes that Jesus was not in the grave, but also this year, I noticed the conversation between two women named Mary who were walking on their way to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus and prepare his body for burial. I thought about what an unpleasant task they had in front of them and how they moved towards that task with courage. This sentence about the women took root for me this year. It was the casual conversation these two women were having on the way to the tomb, very early in the morning, to do this unpleasant task of anointing the body of Jesus, that stuck with me. The details of caring for the body of someone they loved that was about to be buried was the picture that stuck. "Who will roll away the stone for us?"
This statement helps us see that the women were prepared to find the tomb like it had been left, sealed with a large stone. Knowing the weight of the stone was more than they could move, even together, they simply asked one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us?" And they kept walking. There was going to be an obstacle when they got to the tomb, yet they kept walking. They did not wait to get a plan together about how they were going to get some people together to help them get the stone moved, they simply kept walking. We have read the story and it does all work out.
When they arrived the stone was rolled away, and the Lord had a representative waiting for them. The angel was able to field the question about where was the body of Jesus. Then the next great statement of this text, "He's not here; he is risen." With those simple words, the world was not prepared for the impact of what this meant.
That meant that Jesus rose from the grave. Death did not have the victory, God Almighty did have the final say over death and the grave and the power to raise the dead. As believers we embrace this life changing news as truth to hold for the rest of our lives.
So what makes this Easter different, the perspective of the two women named Mary who walked towards the tomb that first Easter morning. There was going to be a stone to be moved when they arrived at the tomb to do their work, but they kept on walking. Today we know that it was the power of the living God that moved the stone. God rolled away the stone. They would not have probably guessed how their lives were getting ready to change because God rolled away the stone.
Our lesson this Easter, is to keep walking towards the work that God has given us to do. There will be bumps along the way, some times even stones in the way of the work. Take heart, God will move your stone too. We serve a living savior, Christ our Lord, who knows all about what we need before we even ask. Call on God to bring on the power to move the stone that is needed right now, in your marriage, in a relationship with a friend, with a health issue, with a mental health problem, with dealing with loss that has been devastating. The same God who moved that first stone away for Jesus Christ to show the world he lives, will move your stone too. Every day, on regular days, we could all use some resurrection power.
Call on the Lord, He will move your stone.
Rev. Evelyn Lemons serves Chestnut Grove UMC in King, NC, she blogs at Lift Up Your Hearts