Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Stone Was Rolled Away


The Burial of Jesus
      As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.  Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,  and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The Guard at the Tomb
      The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.  “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’  So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
      “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”  So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.  ~Matthew 27:57-66
     Can you imagine that?  Can you see all the heavenly hosts looking down, watching the priests and the Pharisees issuing orders to keep Jesus in the borrowed tomb.  The soldiers grunting and straining to make sure the stone was in place, putting the seal of the Roman Empire on it, and then standing guard to make sure that nothing happened.  Think on it, the chief priests and the Pharisees tried to seal up the Son of God with a couple of guards and a rock.
     Can you imagine the God who created the sun and the stars with a word being thwarted by a puny stone in front of a tomb?  Can you imagine that the Great I Am who saved the Israelites by splitting the Red Sea would be stopped by a few Roman soldiers armed with swords and spears?
     Matthew 28:2-4 goes on to say,
      There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.     
     What a scene! God gave the order, and instantly an angel descended from heaven,  the earth shook, the stone was rolled away, revealing the empty tomb, and the guards were paralyzed with fear.
     When I was a child, I thought the angel rolled the stone away to let Jesus out, but that wasn’t how it went.  Jesus didn’t need help getting out.  He had won the victory over death.  The stone was rolled away to let us in.
      The empty tomb means forgiveness.  The empty tomb means that our sins can be washed white as snow. The lamb of God has come.
     He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed. ~ Is 53:5
      And by His great love, we are redeemed.
     For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  ~John 3:16
     Have a blessed Easter.

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