From as early as my memories begin that line is engraved in my memory when I think of Easter. “The stone has been rolled away.” I love that! I love that what had been meant to seal in death, was pushed aside in favor of life. Few symbols of the Easter story are as powerful for me as that stone, rolled away.
That stone reminds us that no power on earth or in heaven will ever prevail against the way and will of God. It is a rock-solid reminder that God will ultimately win, it does not matter the battle. So, in our lives when we face the battles of everyday life and the battles of those major moments that threaten to overwhelm us; and when we feel burdened and beaten we need to remember that simple image. God will win. The stone is rolled away.
This clear image is a way for each of us to hold onto hope in hopeless moments. We can all struggle with hopelessness from time to time. Often, I find myself in conversations with people who are facing moments that are harder than they could ever have imagined and would never have sought, and yet, there they are. I hear in their voices, and sometimes through their tears, the story of faith so strong that they proclaim, “I know God will get me through this” and I find myself inspired again, by their faith and the faithfulness of God. The stone is rolled away.
But, there seems to be a fear among us right now. There seems to be some skepticism that God is still in control. I hear people who express fear and uncertainty about the future of ________________ (fill in the blank). And, I remember the words of Walter Brueggemann several years ago when he preached, saying, “The Gospel is eternal, it is never in danger. The church may be reshaped, but the Gospel is never in danger.” You see, I worry that some of us feel like “the stone” has been rolled back and the grave has been sealed again. Sort of a deep fear that, this time, the world has gone too far or the church has fallen fast asleep, but that is not the Gospel. The Gospel is about “stones rolled away” and “empty tombs” and “a resurrected Lord.” It is about a God, who loved so much, that a Lord was sent who died and became alive again so that we, you and I and our struggling world, could be redeemed.
In the same way, that we, you and I and our struggling world, could never have rolled the stone away, neither can we roll it back in place. This resurrected Lord is alive forever more and the Good News of that, is that with his resurrection has come our own. So, in our lives and in our deaths, our lives are made full and complete and eternal through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And, that, is news that is so good we can never undo or un-tell it. The stone is rolled away and Jesus is risen!
So, friends, whatever you face may you know that the stone is rolled away. He is risen! He is risen indeed.