As I reflect on the Bible’s account of Jesus’ death and resurrection, one unlikely phrase has lingered on my mind and heart. It’s found in Mark chapter 16, where Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James, are walking early on Sunday morning, to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been placed. “On their way, they kept asking one another, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” (Mark 16:3 CEV).
Who will roll the stone away…?
In some way, we’ve all asked this question. When faced with seemingly impossible circumstances, confused, drowning in grief, or desperate, we have all wondered:
How will I deal with this diagnosis?
How will I pay my bills?
How will I save this relationship?
How will I get past this seemingly impossible obstacle?
Who will roll away the stone?
Anyone who’s faced these, or any other difficult situation, might feel a little of what these faithful women did. They must have been so confused and sad. Why had Jesus died? Wasn’t He supposed to be the Messiah? If He was who He said He was, why had this happened? What were they going to do now?
I remember asking the same types of questions when we received a difficult diagnosis for one of my boys. Feeling confused, I could not understand why God had allowed this to happen. I was afraid and uncertain about the future, and it was tempting to want to hide away, to withdraw from others and God. In John 20:19 we read that “[…] the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders.” They had given in to fear, grief and confusion and gone into hiding.
Meanwhile, with great strength and courage, these women set out to honour Jesus, not letting the fear of the authorities, or even the very real question of how to access the tomb, stop them from demonstrating their love and devotion to Him. It’s a good thing they didn’t let these questions stop them, because “When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!) […]” (Mark 4 CEV)
I love that line, “and it was a very large stone!” These women didn’t let the largeness of the stone stop them. They kept on seeking Jesus, even though they didn’t understand what was happening and why, even though their grief could have immobilized them. Even though their world had just fallen apart.
It continues, ” […] Going into the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side; and they were startled. But he said to them, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him. Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:4-8 CEV)
We face so many large stones in our lives that we can never roll away on our own. But if we look up towards Jesus, and aim our steps towards Him, we too can see that the stone has been rolled away. There is no obstacle too great that Jesus cannot move it. Not even death itself. Because they looked to Jesus, rather than to the stone in their path, they were the first to hear the incredible, life-altering news that Jesus was alive, and had the honour of being the very first to tell it. What amazing things does God want us to proclaim, that we might miss because our focus is on the boulders in our way?
Let’s see past them with faith. We know the One who will roll away the stone!