WHO WILL ROLL THE STONE AWAY?
Mark 16:1-8 (4/16/2017)
Introduction: According to a legend, a king once placed a heavy stone in the roadway. Then he hid and waited to see who would remove it. Many who came by loudly blamed the government for not keeping the highways clear, but none assumed the duty of pushing the obstacle out of the way. At last a poor peasant stopped and rolled it into the gutter. To his surprise, he found a bag full of gold embedded in the road beneath the spot where the rock had been. A note said it was the king’s reward for anyone who removed the troublesome object.
Over two thousand years ago, there lived an unusual King, and his name was Jesus. He was sarcastically called the King of the Jews, yet he himself claimed that he came from another world and his Kingdom was of another world. While Jesus was still alive, he taught his disciples about the Kingdom of God. He told his followers that one day he is going to be crucified and die a cruel death on a cross. When the time came, the crowds who once shouted Hosanna, Hosanna, Lord save us, the ones who prophetically said, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” now incited by the Scribes and Pharisees shouted, Crucify Him! Crucify Him.
Given into the populous demand, Pilate the governor ordered that Jesus would be flogged and crucified. According to the prophecies of the ancient prophets, Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. Now there was a problem. Though he truly was the King of the whole world he did not have any possessions of his own, there was no place even to bury him. One of his rich friends who may have been touched by his teachings came forward and buried his friend Jesus in his own tomb and rolled a stone over it. Now, it was the first day after Sabbath, Jesus’ friends some women wanted to anoint the body of Christ, but they had another problem, it was the Stone. They asked each other, who will roll the stone away from the entrance? Mark 16:1-8
I title this message, “Who Will Roll the Stone Away? Before we answer this question, who placed the stone? Why was that grave stone, sealed and guarded so tightly?
I JESUS WAS LAID IN A TOMB (Lk 15:42-47)
It was the preparation day, that is the day before the Sabbath. Joseph of Armathea a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God, gathered up courage and went in before Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. After receiving the body Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock and he rolled a stone (extremely large) against the entrance of the tomb. By doing so the Prophecy in Isaiah 53:9, “His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death,” was fulfilled. According to this passage we know who placed the stone, that was Joseph of Armathea, but why was it sealed and secured so tightly? Matthew gives some reasons to why the stone was sealed.
II. THE STONE WAS SEALED & SECURED
While Jesus was still alive on several occasions he made it clear that he was going to be killed and on the third day rise again. The disciples did not understand what he was talking, but the Pharisees and the teachers of the law took him literally and seriously. So, they went up to Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that when he was still alive, that deceiver said, “after three days I am to rise again.” Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, let the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, “He has risen from the dead and the last deception will be worse than the first. Pilate said to them, “Take a guard, 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”.
What do we know about the Roman guard? The Greek word for “guard” was Kustodia that’s where we get the word custodian. Kustodia was a 16 men security unit. Each man was trained to protect six square feet of ground. The 16 men, according to Roman history, were supposed to be able to protect 6 square yards against an entire battalion and hold it. Each guard had four weapons on his body. He was a fighting machine.” Just imagine, would it be possible for eleven fearful disciples to come secretly and steal the body of Jesus in the watch full eye of the powerful Roman Guard? How about the two women, who would come back the next day to anoint the body of Christ, be able to roll away extremely large stone? So, the two women wondered who will roll the stone away?
III. THE STONE WAS ROLLED AWAY (Matthew 28: 1-4)
Have you wondered why the stone had to be rolled away? Could Jesus not have risen while everything was still intact? He could have risen, secretly but he didn’t. The reason being, Jesus publicly told several times that he would die and rise again on the third day, so perhaps he wanted his resurrection to be a public display not a secret one. In Matthew 28:1-4 we read about this spectacular rolling away of the stone. After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 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.”
Coming back to Mark 16:4-8, “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.
See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” What a powerful encounter the rolling away of the stone from the entrance. It so happened to show that no Roman guard or wicked scheme of the Pharisees could prevent Jesus from rising on the third days just as he has promised. That is the power of the resurrection. The angel rolled away the stone to show to the world the power of the resurrection.
IV. WHO WILL ROLL THE STONE AWAY?
In the scriptures, the unsaved condition of the human heart is often compared to a grave and a stone. On this resurrection day listen to the promise of God Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” How is your heart today? Are you like the women, who were amazed and afraid? Is your heart sealed off and feels cold like a stone? The good news of the Resurrection is that, the same power that was there to remove the stone and raise Jesus from the dead is here today. This power can change you from being a captive to sin, darkness, fear, hopelessness and death, to walk in light, freedom and fullness of life. The power of the resurrection will also enable you to bear witness to what Christ has done in your life. Amen