Move the Stone

April 5, 2015  Mark 16:1 – 8  Who Will Roll the Stone Away


   Early Sunday morning the ladies make their way to the tomb and find it empty.  A borrowed tomb was all Jesus needed.  Just a few hours and he was gone.   A dead savior cannot save anyone.  A rich man told his wife that when he died that he wanted all of his money buried with him.   He died and she complied.   She wrote him a check figuring that he would never be able to cash it.   A dead savior does not save.   I love the story in the Old Testament where the Philistines capture the ark of God from the Jews.  Of course they think their god Dagon was more powerful so they put the Ark of the Covenant at the feet of Dagon.  That was not a very good idea.   In the morning they get up and Dagon is laying face down on the floor before the ark.       So they stand Dagon back up.   I just kind of picture God saying you guys really do not get it.  You don’t know what is going on here so I will be a little more pointed on how I deal with you.    The next morning the Philistines get up and Dagon has fallen again and this time his head broke off and his arms broke.    A headless and armless god is totally worthless.

      A dead savior does not save anything or anyone and Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead.  Jesus was raised from the dead.   I love the comment that Luke makes when the women stick their head in the tomb and see the angel.  The angel asks them why are you looking for the living among the dead.   Jesus is not hanging around this tomb.  Death cannot hold him.  He is not here.  Jesus is not on the cross anymore nor in the ground.  I am reminded how Jesus raised Lazarus who had been dead for 4 days.  Martha said he will stink by now.   Jesus speaks and there is no stinking flesh but he comes forth from the grave.    

   The resurrection is a key part of the gospel and it was preached powerfully by the disciples.   The preaching of the resurrection was a key element for the growth of the church in Acts.  It proved that Jesus was who he said he was.  Jesus raised others from the dead and now He is raised up.  Jesus resurrection proves that man will be raised after death.  Some will be raised to life and some to punishment and destruction.  God made man for life and not for death and we have life in Jesus.  He that has the son has life and he that does not have the son does not have life.   

    Even though Jesus told the disciples that he would be raised again we see that they were not expecting him to rise again.  Indeed in the passage read for us this morning tells us the women were going to the tomb to anoint the body.  Luke tells us that there are 4 women Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome and Joanna.  In Mark’s account Mark tells us that as they were on the way to the tomb the women talked about an obstacle that is in their way.   Who is going to move or how can that stone be removed.   The stone sealed the tomb.    In their mind it would keep them from doing what they came to do.  It was a huge barrier.  The stone had to go so they could get to Jesus body and anoint it. 

    Matthew tells us of 2 other issues for them.   Matthew tells us that the Jewish leaders go to Pilate and ask him to secure the tomb because they heard that Jesus was to rise from the dead.  Pilate tells them to go and make it as secure as you can.   There was a guard that was posted there.  Men were put there to guard the tomb.  No one was to get the body.  They also seal the stone with a seal.   So what are the women going to do with the seal and with the guards and with the stone?   And we know that Satan had his eye on the tomb.    Those things that are against the women are impossible for them to deal with.  I think they had some faith.  They were going to try.  Those things did not stop them from going.

     Man has had a lot of barriers or stones in their way since Adam sinned and one of the big ones is death.  The whole world is pot marked with graves.  But there have been other barriers that have stood in man’s way.  We think that money will solve those barriers.   We think technology will remove those barriers.  Sometimes those barriers represent a health issue.  Man often thinks he can handle it and solve the issues.   We often believe we can do it without God.   For some it could be a spouse or a wayward child.   It can be a sin that seems to control us that we have struggled with for years and not overcome it.  It can be a temptation that we have struggled with.  There has been a big rock or several rocks in the way of where we want to be and where we want to go.  W ho can move the stone?   Who can move the barriers?  Who can open the way?  Who can open the door?  What is the answer?   What is the answer to world debt?   What is the answer to war and famine?   What is the answer to pollution?   What are the answers to world health issues?  I think God allows us to see that we do not have all of the answers and we cannot do it without Him.   God is the only answer.   He has the answers.  He can help.  Jesus can save.  Jesus is alive and he can help.   

    That stone preaches to us today.  It represents the door to death. Death’s door was held securely.  The saints would die and go there but could not return.  Death held them.  The grave held them.  The sting of sin is death and man had sinned.  Sin represents that stone.  Sin was the stumbling block.  And in the fullness of time God said no more.  Remember Samson ripping the gates off the Philistine city Gaza?   The Philistines tried to trap him in the city.    They thought they could hold Samson in the city so they lock the gates.     Samson in the middle of the night gets up and rips off the doors to the gates of the city bars and posts.    Those gates were not some flimsy interior door that can be easily smashed.  They were made to withstand battering rams and Samson rips them off and carries them away to a hill.    That was a statement of power.  So the mighty doors to death were ripped off, destroyed and overcome by Jesus with mighty power.   Remember in Revelation that Jesus was the only one who could rip off the seals and open the scroll.  If we have Jesus no one can hold us forever in the grave.  As Jesus burst forth triumphantly so will we.  We will come forth in power and righteousness.  Let us rejoice in that. 

    The day Jesus arose from the grave the grave has changed.  It is now a resting place.  There is nothing to fear. It is not the end for the saint.  Satan and hells forces have been destroyed.   The penalty for sin has been paid.  Real life has been given back to God’s people.  The stone that held us in has been rolled away.   The stone was rolled away for the women and for us.   It was not rolled away for Jesus sake for Jesus had already gone.  Matthew indicates that Mary and the women experienced the earthquake and the stone being rolled away.   I believe they were the eye witnesses that saw that angel come down and sat on that stone and the guards shook in fear.   The stone was rolled away for them so they could see and for us.   The tomb was empty.  The soldiers shook like dead men and flee.  That is what they testify to.

    Satan and his demon hordes have been driven from the tomb.  Christ has the keys of death and Hades and the Christian has nothing to fear.  The sting of death has been removed.  Christ is triumphant and in him so we are also.  Satan lost every round against Jesus.  Satan tried to kill him when Jesus was born and Joseph moves to Egypt.  Satan tries 3 times to get Jesus to sin when Jesus started his ministry and failed each time.  Then in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus sweat drops of blood but Jesus persevered.  But this was the final round and Jesus delivers the knockout blow.    Jesus heel was bruised by the old serpent but on Resurrection day Satan’s head was crushed.   We need to take and claim authority over him.  We can remind him that he is defeated.  Satan’s head is crushed. 

     That stone in front of the tomb is now a monument.  It represents Jesus victory over sin, death, the grave and over all the forces of Satan and hell.    We may struggle with sin and temptation but Jesus overcame it.   In Jesus we have victory.  He was not defeated and in Him we will not be defeated either.    We can draw water from Jesus tomb.  We can drink from Jesus well that never runs dry.    What did the angel tell the women to do?  Go and tell his disciples.  Go and spread the word that Jesus is alive.   It is good news.  We have a real story to tell that really means something in this world.