Today is the Friday after Easter. Already just another day in the line of many on the calendar. Reflections on the resurrection now seem 360 other days away.
But a thought smacked me this last Sunday that hasn’t yet let me pass easily into the post-easter mundane.
Every few weeks I participate with a small church that is replanting itself in Chaska, MN. Pastor Rob Mapstone frequently says things in such a way that stirs my soul. This last week, on Easter Sunday, he asked a simple question that I had always taken for granted:
“Why was the
stone rolled away?”
I think I
always assumed that the stone was rolled away so that Jesus could get out of the tomb. But
that’s actually quite a silly thought. If Jesus could pass through death into a resurrected life, then some rock walls are not going to be an issue for him. In fact, as Rob pointed out, Jesus did just this when he appeared to his disciples in the locked room (see John 20:19ff). Walls couldn’t stop Jesus. So, why was the stone rolled away?
On the way to the tomb to annoint Jesus’ body with burial spices, Mary Magdelene and Salome and Mary (the mother of James) wondered how they were going to get into the tomb (see Mark 16:1ff). Who would roll the stone away so that they could have access? [Perhaps the Roman guards would help them or perhaps they wouldn’t be able to get in? (see Matthew 27:62-28:4)?] It was perhaps a spontaneous logistical concern, as Pastor Rob suggested, so common among those who are in mourning.
But when they arrived at the tomb they discovered the stone was already rolled away. “So they entered the tomb,” the Gospel of Mark indicates (Mark 16:5). They were “looking for Jesus” (Mark 16:6). And because they were looking for Jesus, and because they were willing to enter, they learned that Jesus had risen from the dead (Mark 16:6).
Could it be that the stone was rolled away so that the women could enter? A similar thing happens to Peter and John (see John 20:1ff). Could it be that the stone was rolled away so that when we look for Jesus, we could enter in and see… and believe (John 20:8-9)?
The stone was not rolled away for the sake of Jesus. The stone was rolled away for our sake. We have to
- Look for Jesus
- See that he is our risen Savior
- Respond to that fact
Five days removed from the annual reminder of Jesus’ resurrection, will I already forget to look, see and respond? Or will I keep the visual of the rolled-away stone clearly in my sights? Will I enter once again into the tomb today to look for Jesus and discover that he isn’t in the grave? And will I listen to the call to act today in a resurrected relationship with the Lord?