They watched the One they loved suffer agony and succumb to a tortuous death. It was the greatest event of history, but they likely didn’t realize it. To experience exceeds preparedness. Surreal grief must have shrouded the horror of those events and ripped the hearts of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as they followed Joseph, a disciple of Jesus. Together, facing the dark tomb, the women sat and watched Joseph lay the wrapped body of Jesus inside. A large stone rolled against its gaping darkness.
The gloom of that rolling stone is poignant and final.
David said in Ps. 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” (NKJV).
The word “commit” means “to roll off on to” to “roll away,” like children rolling down a hill, picking up speed as they go. The verse is saying roll off your cares on to the CareTaker. It’s too heavy to bear. Trust Him to carry it. He will “bring it to pass” or “attend” to it.
God is still in the business of moving the impossible.
Early on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and Salome bought spices. It was Jewish custom to anoint a body with fragrances. It offsetted the smell of decay, an act of respect and love.
In an atmosphere of hate and destruction, their demonstration of devotion brought unexpected joy.
These women owed much to Jesus. Mary Magdalene had been freed of seven demons. During Jesus’ life a group of women, some mothers of disciples, others healed of illnesses or cured of bondages, cared for Him. They followed Him and listened to His teaching, much as had the chosen twelve. That morning, a somber female gathering climbed the hill together carrying spices to his tomb.
And on the way, they remembered the giant stone.
“After three days I will rise,” Jesus had said. He laid out coming events, preparing them, revealing details of betrayal, scourging, and killing.
Chief priests and Pharisees feared false rumors because of Jesus’ forewarning.
“Sir”, they said to Pilate, “Command that the tomb be made secure…Lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’” (Matt. 27:64; NKJV).
Perhaps the women weren’t even aware Pilate added precautions. Soldiers secured the tomb, sealed it and stationed a guard.
But as they approached, the ladies knew the stone was too large an obstacle, a barrier too great for their strength.
“Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” they questioned.
With or without the stone, inside the grave was empty, but how could they have imagined?
“But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large.” (Mark 16:3 NKJV).
Jesus didn’t need a way out. The stone posed no impediment to One Who conquered death, but it was a powerful testimony of life for those who stepped inside. They must have blinked more than once as their eyes adjusted to the flickering rays of sunshine within the shadowed darkness of an empty tomb. Hearts surely pounded hard. For what they didn’t see confirmed a promise given before the cross’ sorrow.
A young man, clothed in long white robes sat on the stone.
“He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.”
Hope beckoned from a tomb of despair.
Sometimes I wonder how I will manage weights and cares I cannot move on my own. Sometimes I think things are too hard, too heavy. Jesus asks me to peer through the dark and roll onto Him those concerns. He invites me to remember an empty tomb.
“Who will roll the stone away?”
The greatness of His triumph moves in the smallest details of my life.
Ps. 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”
He’s got this.