Who will roll the stone away for us?

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Devotional Word for Monday, April 13, 2020

It is the day after Easter, but I want to consider one little incident that took place on Easter. I want us to consider two simple points from this incident. One dealing with how we deal with the Bible, and the second dealing with how we deal with obstacles in our path. 

Here’s the Bible passage I want us to look at and then reflect on, Mark 16:1-4:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Jesus. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.

Each of the four Gospels give an account of the women coming to the tomb early on Easter morning. Each account is true. Each account tells the same general story. Yet, each account has specific distinctions not mentioned by the other three Gospels. For instance, Mark is the only writer that mentions what the women talked about as they made their way to the tomb in the gradually growing light of the first day of the week. If you never read the Gospel of Mark, you would not get that little detail.

Here’s the first thing I want us to learn from this: read all the Bible if you want to get all what God has for you. Do not restrict yourself to the New Testament or to the epistles of Paul or to John’s Gospel but not the other Gospels or only to the Psalms. You don’t want to do anything that keeps you from reading all the Bible for all your life. Each of us should aspire to have a broad familiarity with all the Bible. If we do, we will find new insights, new connections, regularly. That’s my first point.

My second point concerns that conversation among the women on their way to Jesus’ tomb that only Mark records. After the Sabbath was over at sundown on Saturday, the women had gone out and bought spices. Luke tells us they prepared the spices. So, this was not a spur-of-the-moment action on their part. They planned to do it. I suspect they felt an obligation from God to do it. And so, as dawn approached, they set out to do God’s will. 

There was one aspect they did not plan out. It was a concern to them. It was an obstacle. They talked about it as they walked. Only Mark tells us this. If we don’t read him, we won’t know about the obstacle they faced. Here it is: they wondered who would roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb. It was too massive for them to do alone. They would need others to do it for them. They knew they were doing what God wanted of them, even though they didn’t know how they would be enabled to do it! It sounds a little bit like Abraham going out to receive a country from God, but not knowing where he was going, doesn’t it! [Heb. 11:8]

But God had it all under control. We learn from Matthew’s account that “an angel of Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled the stone away.” [Matt. 28:2] One of the spiritual dangers we face in our walk with God is wanting to have all our ducks in a row before we set out to obey God. We want to know how it will all work out. When we do so, we leave God out of the picture. We become self-sufficient. If there is one thing we never want to achieve it is self-sufficiency where we no longer need God. And if it doesn’t work out the way we planned, we get mad at God! It’s good to plan – the women planned and purchased and mixed spices – but hold onto things loosely, leaving room for the Holy Spirit to work. We need to emulate those women. We need to allow God to put purposes in our hearts in how to show our love for the Lord Jesus. Then set out to fulfill those purposes even though we’re not sure how we will be able to bring those purposes to completion. We may see obstacles ahead. Trust God. Like the women, wonder how God will make it possible for us to do what we purposed, how He will help us overcome or get around or do away with those obstacles. We don’t know, but what He has showed us we need to set about doing now, not later. 

One final thought: what do you suppose happened to all those spices the women bought, mixed, and brought along? There was no body to use them on! Not only was the stone rolled away, the body of Jesus of Nazareth was no longer dead, it was raised, never to die again! I don’t think the women got mad at God because things didn’t work out as they planned!

Let us pray: O God, You are our God, and we will always thank You. We will thank You for Your Word, for the wonderful way in which the Holy Spirit inspired the men who wrote it, and the wonderful way you inspire us as we read it. Let us read it faithfully and fully. We thank You that You want us to serve You. Let our hearts and minds be open to receive Your directions, to be led by Your Spirit and Your Word. What a privilege to be Your bond-slaves. May we serve you faithfully and fully this day and each day of our lives. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.