Sunday morning, the first day of creation (Genesis 1: 1-5), and now re-creation. The same women who saw Jesus die, placed in the tomb, and a heavy stone rolled over the entrance - now return to fulfill the duties of ritual anointing – usually done before being put in the tomb – they forget that Jesus had already been anointed (Mark 14: 1-11). (Interesting that the women are the only ones still watching and waiting…but that is another point for another day). His death was certain in their minds. Their biggest concern now is, "who will roll away the stone for us?"
The stone was six feet in diameter, a foot and half thick, and roughly four thousand pounds! It would have taken 2-3 strong men to roll it using strong wooden boards as leverage (much harder to roll away than into place). Maybe the guards will help? (unlikely!) Maybe a passerby? All they knew was – they could not move such a stone. Still…they went to the grave – in faith that something would happen.
Tears in their eyes, filled with exhaustion from the last few days, they looked up. In the light of the rising sun – they see their barrier (the chasm) has been removed – the stone is rolled away. As they ran into the tomb, they see (v.5), "a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side" (the side of accomplishment).
The text says they were struck/paralyzed with fear. Here is what is described as an angelic/divine figure – sitting (with straw in his mouth – feet up). Angels are never said to sit, they are always at attention, but today is a day of completion…of victory…of sabbath rest!
(v.6), "I know you are seeking Jesus the Nazarene, who you saw die on the cross – but He is not here (in this place of death) He was raised (by the power of God the Father) HE is NOT HERE!" (You're going to have to look somewhere else!)
What the women intend to be a terminal visit is but a commencement! The living are/often consumed with death, but the Crucified One is consumed with life. (J.R. Edwards). Wherever death is (the cold dark place) is the last place to look for Jesus! He is alive, I tell you!
"Now – GO and TELL – share this good news. In the power of life and hope – leave this tomb!" In a moment – Jesus' words returned "just as He said" – that every obstacle will be dealt with. Not in their power or our power. Every stone or unmovable force (to us) will be removed and thrown down.
Beloved, the promises of Jesus never fail – they are reliable – down to the last detail. Has not our study in Mark shown us this? Great is His faithfulness! You may ask as these women did, "Who can move the stone for us?" Who can take away my heartbreak? My addiction? My depression? My fears? My past? My abandonment? My sin? My black heart? My pride? My lust? My greed? My anger? My malice? My unforgiveness?
Who can roll away the stone of hatred? Who can roll away the stone of abuse? Who can roll away what my father did to me? Who can roll away the memories I have? Who can roll away the violence I have seen? The words I have heard? Of war and famine? Who can roll away the sins of humanity?
Don't you know it is too heavy? Don't you know the grave is an awful bully? The stone, the gravesite, the dreadful permanence of marble and dirt over the faces of our loved ones? Who can undo the decomposition? The wheels of decay and time? What a stone this all is! Who can roll it away?
Todd Beamer of Plainsboro, New Jersey, was a 32-year-old husband, father of three when he boarded United flight 93 on September 11th, 2001.
Beamer tried to place a call through a phone located on the back of a plane seat, but was routed to a customer service representative, who passed him on to GTE airphone supervisor Lisa Jefferson. With FBI agents listening in on their call, Beamer informed Jefferson that hijackers had taken over United 93, and that one passenger had been killed. He also stated that two of the hijackers had knives, and that one appeared to have a bomb strapped around his waist.
According to accounts of cell phone conversations, Beamer, along with Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick, formed a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers. Beamer told Jefferson that the group was planning to "jump on" the hijackers and fly the plane into the ground before the hijackers' plan could be followed through.
Beamer, being a devote Christian, recited the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd Psalm with Jefferson, prompting others to join in. Beamer requested of Jefferson, "If I don't make it, please call my family and let them know how much I love them." After this, Jefferson heard muffled voices and Beamer clearly answering, "Are you ready? Okay. Let's roll." These were the last words spoken by Beamer heard by Lisa Jefferson.
As the account goes – Beamer and other brave souls on Flight 93 were able to storm the cabin and cause the hijackers to panic - crashing the plane into a rural field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It was later discovered that the plane's target was the U.S. Capitol Building.
In the days following, the courage of United flight 93 was retold and discovered. The audio of the incident was repeated across the country. What stood out in the chaos was the calm Todd Beamer, His faith, and leadership in spite of the circumstances, in spite of the cold, dark tombstone in front of them. His words 'Let's roll' have inspired a generation (myself included). One such inspired group is his Alma mater football team, Wheaton University. (Show Video).
Mark Beamer grounded his courage in the words of Jesus. He steadied himself in the hope of a rolled away stone. His actions pointed to the actions of Jesus Christ – our example.
We, too, can say this beautiful Easter morning "Let's roll" because the stone has been rolled away! Death did not have the final word that terrible September morning. Life sprung out of tragedy. If not for Jesus – we can never leave that grave. If not for Jesus, we can never leave the grief, anointing duties, tears, and pain.
Romans 8:11, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead (God rolled that stone!), lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
Therefore, beloved, know that for those that have come to rest in Jesus, by faith, will never suffer true death. Death is but a doorway into the realm of the living! Where Jesus is (Why do you look for the living among the dead?) (Luke 24:5). V. 7, "He has gone ahead of you…" Jesus goes ahead of us! Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy."
This is why Paul mocks death in 1 Corinthians 15:55, "Where death is your sting? Where is your victory?" Can you hear the words of the angel speaking to you? He is not here! He is alive! Let's roll!
Ephesians 3: 20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”