"And They Found the Stone Rolled Away from the Tomb" Lk: 24:2
They came to the Tomb where Jesus of Nazareth had been placed. They Knew that He was dead. They had witnessed with their own eyes His, beaten, bloody body taken down from the Cross there at Calvary. They knew that place where Jesus' body had been laid to rest.
A great stone had been rolled over the tombs entrance. It was the place of the dead and Jesus was there. Everything which they embraced as they followed Him, and now apparently all of it was lost and had come down around them. Jesus was dead there was no mistake about it. Roman solders had carried out the death sentence with their customary thoroughness. These men knew how to kill. That proficiency, that of handing out death was employed against Jesus on the cross. He was dead, Jesus' disciples would have to face reality. He was buried and a great stone covered the entrance to His tomb. It was customary to cover tomb with such stones, it kept grave robbers from disturbing the dead. It required a few strong men to roll them into place and to move them again which seldom occurred.
They ComeEarly the first day of the week a group of women, still mourning the loss of Jesus, arrive there at the garden tomb hoping to prepare Jesus' dead body for its place among the dead. This group of women are mentioned in the four Gospel accounts are:
Matt 28:1, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.”,
in Mk 16:1, "Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome."
in Lk 23:55, 24:1 and 24:10, "the women who had come with him out of Galilee."
Also, there with these women were "Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James."
Luke 24:10 mentions that there were at least two others as well.
At just about the time, they had reached the garden, the woman began to talk among themselves and recognize that they do not have ability to move the great stone which barred them access to the body of Jesus.
"And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb?" Mk:16:3
But what they find is not what they had anticipated. In the grief of their loss, Jesus' words regarding His death and resurrection somehow did not take hold, in their hearts and minds. Jesus was dead, and that was a reality and they knew this to be true and for the moment they could see Him no other way.
As they arrive at the tomb the group of women find, to their astonishment, the Roman guard squad, which typically consisted of twelve men, which had been assigned to watch the tomb are now dispersed. Gone nowhere to be found.
This guard had been requested by the religious leaders. The guards were intended to keep the disciples from removing Jesus' dead body, then claim that He was resurrected, the religious leaders wanted Jesus to stay dead and buried, and in this desire, they turned to the power of Rome, that is the world system, to keep Jesus in the grave." Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together to Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said to them, You have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as you can. So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch"Matt:27:62-66
We are told that this guard squad of soldiers had an angelic encounter which frighten them to the point of senselessness.
"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" Matt:28:2-4
The Guards Report It
The scattered guard had fled the garden, some going to the Religious leaders and give them an account of what had occurred.
"While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day." Matt:28:11-15
The Stone is Rolled Away
The group of women saw, as they drew near the garden, that the great stone was rolled away from the tomb entrance allowing them to look into the tomb in which Jesus had been laid to rest. But, to their amazement they see that it is empty. Jesus is not among the dead, yet, the import of what their own eyes are tell them still has not yet become clear. Jesus is gone, the great stone which now had been rolled away and allowed them to see into the tomb and to see that it is empty. He is gone, risen.
Frighten and uncertain as to what had occurred. They entered the empty tomb, when they did, the group of women encounter divine assistance in the form of angelic appearances to aid them to understand what is transpiring. The angelic messengers of God, gave help to them to help them by reminding them of the words of Jesus Himself.
"And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said to them, Why seek you the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spoke to you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words," Lk:24:3-8
Rolling Our Stones Away
The Scriptures are always so much more then we can ever take in with the confines of one life time .Each word speaks volumes to us, they are eternal and as such they are not fixed in time as we understand it. What we read about here in the Gospel accounts are not just the discovery of an empty tomb two thousand years ago by a group of woman but rather their experience at Jesus' tomb is all of ours as well.
They thought that Jesus was dead, they saw Him placed in the tomb, each of them reckoned that Jesus was dead, tried and convicted by the religious leaders and killed by the power of the world system that took steps to insure that Jesus would stay in dead in the grave.
Yet even the might of the world system, represented by the Roman Guard, was and is , powerless to keep Jesus in the grave, for they fell before the display of God's power and sovereignty and were scattered in fear. Jesus lives!
The rolled stone reveals that He is gone. The rolled stone was not so Jesus could leave , it is moved for our benefit so that we can see He is gone. The world system cannot keep Jesus dead. He lives and there is nothing they can do to change that. They cannot defeat Him. Even before His death and resurrection Jesus told the Apostles.
"These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have defeated the world." Jhn: 16:33
The World system was beaten even before the resurrection. This is what St. Paul wrote to believers down through the centuries.
"And having disarmed principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." Col: 2:15
"No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory".1 Cor:2:7-8
The great stone which sealed the tomb and was rolled away through the power of God, and was moved to give us and all humanity a clear view that Jesus is not among the dead. This stone for us can take many forms, it is in short anything that prevents us from seeing Jesus' tomb as being empty. The angels which were manifested represent God's divine assistance in coming to see the truth that Jesus lives, He is risen just as He said. God rolls the stone away from the eyes of our hearts and minds so we see the truth that Jesus is not found among the dead.
The great stone which keeps us from seeing this truth is beyond human ability to roll away, just as the woman talked among themselves.
"Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb?" Mk: 16:3
The great stone which block our view of the empty tomb requires intervention of God, though the Holy Spirit's work in our lives bring us to grasp the truth. The tomb is empty Jesus is not among the dead.
The god of this world blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of God.” 2 Cor 4:4
"But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God." 1Cor:2:10
"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" Jhn:14:26
He Is the Resurrected
What occurred there in the garden tomb only demonstrates what is, and always has been eternally true, even before the resurrection became a moment in the flow of human history, Jesus speaking to Martha the sister of Lazarus at her brother’s grave said
"Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:" Jhn:11:25
He said this even before His own death. The Resurrection is not just something that happened and event but it is Who and what Jesus is...The grave cannot keep Him, it has no power over our Lord.
When the great stone is rolled away from our eyes, but God himself and see the truth we see Him for Who He is. Paul tells Christians what the Resurrection of Jesus really accomplishes.
"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, (Which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:" Rm:1:1-4
This tells us that Jesus is not the Son of God because He was resurrected, but rather, He was resurrected because His is the Son of God. The Resurrection shows us what is and always eternally has been true.
The great stone is removed from before the eyes of our hearts and minds we can now see the empty tomb, and we come to see Who Jesus is, that is fully God and fully human, He is the living One Who is risen from the tomb of death , Jesus is not found among the dead, we each, now, come to that garden tomb and see that we will find, as they did that it is empty all because; "the Stone Rolled Away from the Tomb" Lk:24:2.
Benediction: May we each and all ever give glory to God that the stone has been rolled away from our hearts, Today, Tomorrow and Forevermore. Amen.
Rev. Todd Crouch, Pastor
Topinabee Community Church
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