Day 1: Who will Roll the Stone Away?
On the first day of the week, as the Sabbath was ending, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jacob, and Salome made their way to the tomb. It was very early in the morning as the first streaks of light were beginning to be seen in the sky. They had purchased aromatic embalming spices so that they might anoint his body. And they had been asking one another, “Who can roll away the heavy stone for us from the entrance of the tomb? Mark 16:1-3
We enter the second week of Eastertide – the 50 days of celebrating the resurrection before Pentecost Sunday. We have looked at each story surrounding the resurrection, following the characters in what they saw, what they had a hard time seeing and how their eyes were opened.
It is a fascinating “study” to take the same stories of the resurrection and notice the questions that were asked. Some questions come from Jesus, others from angels and still others by the disciples themselves.
Questions are so much more powerful than answers. They have the tendency to stir the heart and slow down the mind. Questions welcome discovery of self and of others. We are not told what we must know or do when someone asks us a question. Questions invite us to search within ourselves along with the Spirit, to understand ourselves and God’s movements in our lives.
Don’t rush to answer when a good question comes your way. Let the question have time to get through a few layers. Let the pause help you want to know the honest truth – even if the truth is that you don’t know the answer. What does the question touch? A longing, a frustration? What does it reveal? A fear? A hope? Welcome the questions…questions from others and questions that rise up in you.
The women friends in the scriptures today are on their way to the tomb. They believe that the crucified Jesus lays dead inside of it and they have come to honour Him in their custom. The intimate custom of honouring the body with fragrant spices.
I can totally relate to making a great plan, getting half way through it and then remembering one important detail that I have not prepared for. This must have happened to these friends. Maybe halfway to the tomb, they remembered the big stone. The realization that they would not have the strength to move it quickly sank in. “Who can roll away the heavy stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” they asked each other. I want to use this question allegorically today. That stone was what – in their minds – would block them from Jesus and from their service to Him.
Thinking of our own lives, let me re-frame the question:
What blocks me (presently) from entering into intimacy with Jesus? It can be anything – doubts, fears, a lack of desire, lack of knowing what to do, etc.
What emotion does this evoke in me?
There are a lot of ways we handle being blocked. Some of us will rant and rave, others walk away quietly, thinking it is hopeless. Some of us enlist a whole team of people or programs or study to get that door opened into intimacy with Jesus. And some of us think we can move that stone all by ourselves. I usually fall into the last category here. It is so hard for me to give it up, to accept that I cannot do it. I would have wrestled with that big stone until I put my back out.
It’s a really good question to ask: What blocks me from entering into intimacy with Jesus? An equally good question is: How do I tend to handle this? Take some time with God to ponder the questions, listening for what comes up.
In the biblical story, the stone had already been moved for them. The power of God raised Jesus from the dead and rolled the stone away so that we can all go in…not to anoint the dead but to celebrate that He is alive.
Let these words on behalf of Jesus encourage your soul today.
The stone is rolled away. You don’t have to be blocked from intimacy with me. There is no custom, program, effort or enlisting others needed to open the passageway for you to enter. The way is open for you. Intimacy with me is not something you have to achieve. I achieved it for you. Come and allow my Spirit to help you be aware of Me! Look outside of the tomb, look beyond, look within. Close your eyes and know that you and I are one as the Father and I are one. Come in to the joy of the resurrection that opens the way to intimacy with the Trinity.
Picture yourself with whatever represents the stone in your life. Picture yourself laying it down. Give space for a new question: Who can separate me from the love that is in Christ Jesus? Sit in silence with this question, repeating it as often as you want to. Listen for Christ to answer it.