And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27:59-60)
Read Matthew 27:59-66
We are used to thinking of rocks as things that do not change -- or, if they do, only very, very slowly, over thousands of years. An old rock -- what hasn't it seen? Surely of all earthly things, a rock should be able to say, "There is nothing new under the sun." And yet, this rock -- the one sealing Jesus' tomb -- had a surprise coming.
Joseph of Arimathea had ordered a family tomb built for himself -- cut out of the limestone surrounding Jerusalem. There was nothing surprising about that. Plenty of people had done the same. This tomb was to be closed by a giant rounded stone, which would roll down a small slope to cover the entrance. It was made big and heavy on purpose, to discourage animals or grave robbers.
So Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus' body in a shroud, put spices around Him, and laid Him in the tomb. Then they rolled the stone down in front of the entrance and went away. Nothing would change (or so the men probably thought!) until the next member of Joseph's family died and needed to be buried. The stone would simply sit there, unchanging, heavy -- doing its job.
But things did change. First came a squad of soldiers to seal the stone and keep watch, just in case Jesus' disciples got up the courage to try to steal His body. (The Jewish leaders obviously didn't know them very well.)
Then came the women, walking out to the tomb to finish the details of Jesus' burial. They too worried about the stone, which was too heavy for them to move.
But they didn't have to. There was an earthquake, and an angel of God came down. Casually, as if the stone weighed nothing, the angel rolled it away from the door. Then he sat on it!
The stone had no purpose anymore except as an angel's seat. There was nothing left inside the tomb to guard. Jesus had already risen and gone.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there are things in my life like the stone that guarded Your tomb -- things that imprison me though not You. Come, please, roll away these stones and set me free to live trusting in You. Amen.
What kind of burial or cremation arrangements does your family use?
Why do you think the angel rolled away the stone if Jesus was already gone?
What in your life feels like it is imprisoning you now? Ask the Lord to roll it away and set you free.
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