When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomband they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was exceptionally 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. (NIV)
“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” So asked the three women on Resurrection Sunday when they came to anoint the dead body of Jesus. Turns out they didn’t need to find the security officers, so to speak, to come and unlock the door. The tomb was already open. What is more, lo and behold, the women did not find a dead body. Jesus was not there – he is risen!
I sometimes find myself asking the same kind of question the women were asking each other:
Who will move this huge object (or objection!) to what I want to do?
How can I get to Jesus so that I can do something for him?
Who will take care of the immovable obstacles that stand in my way?
I must admit, these are questions born more of a small faith and a limited understanding than of knowing the power of God.
It also turns out the plan the women had for taking care of Christ’s lifeless body was completely irrelevant. Which causes me to ask even more questions of myself:
Are my questions completely off the mark?
Do I have my ladder up against the wrong wall?
Is my plan of caring for Jesus an adventure in missing the point?
Is it Jesus who plans on showing up and caring for me?
Perhaps it all comes down to our expectations. The women were most certainly not expecting a risen Lord! They had absolutely zero expectation of encountering an angel who would tell them Jesus is alive. They did not anticipate their question would end up being completely unnecessary.
Maybe believers and lovers of Jesus are asking a set of misguided questions based in our puny creature perspective on life, church, and world. Perhaps we are not grasping what God’s power has already accomplished and/or what God already has up his sleeve.
It could be that all we really need to realize is that God has gone before us, clearing all impediments so that people can see and experience the risen Christ. Methinks our expectations are far too low for a God who has the power and will to raise people from death….
Because the way has been opened to a new and vital relationship with the Lord Christ. That massive immovable boulder has already been moved. Whereas we thought it was some big issue to deal with, just by showing up at the tomb we clearly see that isn’t the issue, at all.
So, here I go again with another set of questions:
How many times have we gotten things all discombobulated in our heads and misinterpreted what’s going on just because we didn’t show up and find Jesus is not dead but alive?
When have we severely underestimated the power of God by believing we must operate in our own power and do things for God because Christ is as good as dead to us?
Are we still expecting Jesus to care about buildings, budgets, and butts in the pew because those things (we think) are within our power and control?
Do we even bother to ask Jesus what he cares about, or do we simply superimpose our wishes upon him as if they are his?
Are you yet sick and tired of me asking questions and offering no answers?
That’s because the answer is already there. Jesus is not where you are expecting him. There is power at work for which you are unaware.
The truth is that we can now encounter and explore a fresh reality with Jesus as the Author and Pioneer of our faith. We need only listen, follow, and leave the moving of big rocks to God.
When our faith stands at the grave, grieving for a stone that’s rolled away, forgive us, Lord. When our faith is short of understanding though the truth is there to see, forgive us, Lord. When our faith, beset by doubt, sees no further than an empty tomb today, forgive us, Lord. Bring to our minds the cry of Mary, “I have seen the Lord!” and grant us faith to believe! Amen.