Who Will Roll The Stone Away For Us?
Easter Sunday, 16 April 2017
Free Community Church
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.” – Mark 16:1-7
Can you imagine what was going through their minds and hearts as they were making their way to Jesus’ tomb? Grief at the sudden sense of loss, confusion at all that had happened, anxiety and uncertainty about what lies ahead. Their main concern as they were walking to the tomb that early morning was “Who will roll the stone away for us?” To them, that’s the biggest hindrance to what they wanted to do that morning. It would be a trememndous miracle if someone was able to just roll the stone away for them so they could anoint Jesus’ body with burial spices. That’s all they were asking and hoping for that morning. To them, the stone was a very difficult barrier and that was the biggest thing they could ask for! Those stones were quite heavy and it would have been really hard for the women to move it.
The cork-like stone -> Unstopper their hearts
But God did something above and beyond their expectations! Imagine their shock when they discovered the stone had already been pulled back when they reached the tomb, and what’s more, Jesus’ body was no longer there! In the midst of their shock and confusion, a person in white robes then tells them Jesus has risen!
How would you feel if you were them? Afraid, astounded, amazed, anxious, filled with awe?
This was something they have never experienced before. Something no one could even imagine happening! It was so unthinkable that when the women – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and several other women (according to the Luke account) – went to tell the male disciples what they saw, the story sounded like nonsense to them and the men refused to believe it.
Sometimes our human minds cannot begin to even conceive of what God is able to do! So even when something amazing and good happens, we may find it unbelievable and start by questioning it. Sometimes it takes us a long time before the truth sinks in. With God, we should expect the unexpected and the unbelievable.
There’s another thing that God engineered that day which was completely unexpected. Why would God allow the first witnesses of the resurrection to be women? At that time, women were not considered credible witnesses. Surely it would have been wiser to let men be the first witnesses, no? It would give the resurrection more credibility, no? Obviously, God had a different and better plan. What may seem wise to us human beings is often limited by our own prejudices, our limitations and our blind spots. All the gospel accounts were very careful to make it very clear that the women were the first people who saw the resurrected Jesus (they even listed their names), and they were the ones who then ran to tell the male disciples. Who didn’t believe them at first, of course.
Top on that list on every gospel account was Mary Magdalene. Prostitute? Demon possessed? Devoted follower and supporter. God chose Mary Magdalene to be the Apostle to the Apostles just because God can and preferred it so. I wasn’t the one who gave her the title ‘Apostle to the Apostles’. She was given that title in the 12th century because she was a faithful follower of Christ througout his ministry right till his death and resurrection, and even after that. Within the four Gospels she is named at least 12 times, more than most of the apostles and she was the one Jesus spoke to that resurrection morning, and she was commissioned by Jesus to go tell the rest that he is risen.
Are you potentially a Mary Magdalene? Do you have a questionable past in the eyes of people around? Is God wanting to use you because God sees your devoted heart?
Easter is all about God surprising us, overturning all our expectations, going beyond what we can even imagine!
I can imagine how God with great glee, enjoys overturning all our limited expectations, our little hopes and our very small dreams! “O you of little faith” is what Jesus would say.
I don’t know if you have stones in your heart. I don’t know if you have obstacles in your life. But Our God is in the business of rolling stones away! Or unstoppering our hearts…unblocking them! God wants us to experience that same power that rose Jesus from the dead! That very same power is available to us! We do not have to stay dead inside. Whatever is keeping you trapped on the inside, God is saying “Come out. Come alive.” We can come alive in every way! God wants to remove all the rocks and stones, all the barriers that keep us from seeing God more clearly. What stones is God moving in your life so you can see God better, know God deeper, experience God’s love first hand in your life? Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. This is what that Easter morning proves to us. No obstacle can stand in the way of love…not even death.
Are you moving towards God with expectation and hope? Are you allowing God to expand your prayers and to inspire your dreams? Is God moving away the blocks in your heart?
Who will roll the stone away for us?
God will! And God will do so much more than that! God may even want you to go and tell others what you have seen and experienced. God will give you power to move all the obstacles in your heart so that you can truly come alive in Christ!
Let us hear some true stories of how God brought life and hope to a situation that was filled with despair and hopelessness:
Siew Gek’s Story (watch video)
New members’ stories (watch video)