Who Will Roll Away The Stone For Us?

Removing the heavy stone that blocked the entrance to Jesus’ tomb was the first barrier that stood in the way of Mary fulfilling her mission to anoint the body of Jesus.  As they approached the tomb, the women asked, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.” 

“Don’t be alarmed,” the angel said.  “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen! He is not here.  See the place where they laid him7 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.’”

Christians face a similar challenge even today.  Make no mistake about it.  The full force of the death-defying, hell-defeating, sin-demolishing, devil-chasing power of Jesus Christ is resident in the life of every Christian.  The sad reality is that way too high a percentage of Christians live a sub-standard faith.  The resurrection narrative of the first Easter morning is divorced from the day-to-day life of the average Christian.  But listen to the way that Paul described the power that is at work in us who believe in Jesus in Romans Chapter 6:4-5

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

That’s just one of the many places in the New Testament where we are told that the resurrection power of Jesus is resident and working in our lives.  We have been resurrected to new life in Christ.  We have received spiritual and moral power by being united with Jesus in His resurrection life.  The potential in every Christian life is astronomical, i.e., heavenly. 

So, why so many discouraged and defeated Christians?  The answer is that we aren’t prepared to roll the heavy stones in our lives away by faith.  Let me say it again.  At the moment of your salvation, you received everything you need to live a life of faith and obedience, but you must also “roll the heavy stones” away in your life.  You must pass through the flood waters to prove that you can’t drown.  You must face your giants.  You must step down into the water before they will part.  You must count the cost and go the distance.  When you start rolling the heavy stones in your life away by the power of the one who got back up out of the grave, you begin walking in the power of the resurrected Jesus.

I see this all the time as a pastor.  I watch people face their burdens often with broken hearts but in faith.  The heavy stones roll away.  They grow from “faith to faith.”  Their path is growing brighter each day.  Never easy or without strain, but stronger none the less. 

What is the heavy stone that stands in your way?  Fear, regret, shame, unbelief, habits, hang-ups, or hurts?  Your strength will never be enough.  But as you learn to live by faith in the Lord’s presence and power in your life, the stone is rolled away.  He will roll every stone away as you face it in faith.  He promises.  And if He kept His promise of resurrecting, He will keep His promise to you. 

He is Risen!  And you are risen with Him.  Now live the overcoming life you are meant to enjoy. 

See you on Resurrection Sunday at one of our three morning services: 8:15, 9:45, 11:30.
Pastor Deric

Forsaken [ fawr-sey-kuhn ]

Of all the words spoken by Jesus, His distressing cry to His Heavenly Father moments before His death intrigues me the most.  In Mark 15:34 we read that “At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  The word forsaken means exactly what it implies, deserted, abandoned, left alone.  I’ve wondered over these words for many years.  Partly because I know what it means but partly because it’s a theological mystery to me.

This is the moment Jesus has been dreading the most.  There are many heartaches that He experienced on His way to the Cross.  The betrayal, the rejection, the denial, the mockery, the scourging, the crown of thorns, and the crucifixion itself.  But of all the suffering that Jesus endured, this moment was the peak of His agony.

He lived His entire life, even from childhood, knowing that He was under the watchful eye of His Heavenly Father.  He was consciously aware of the Father’s love and presence throughout His whole life.  The harshest experience had not dulled His awareness of the Father’s care.  Until, that is, He cried out in pure agony, “Why have you forsaken me?”  This was His “God-forsaken curse.” 

A.T. Robertson says that “We are not able to enter into the fullness of the desolation felt by Jesus at this moment as the Father regarded Him as sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). This desolation was the deepest suffering. He did not cease to be the Son of God. That would be impossible.”

It’s precisely because He is the Son of God that this desolation was His deepest suffering.  We know that He always and only did what pleased and honoured His Father.  Even Pilate, upon examination of Jesus concluded that he “found no guilt in Him.”  As the beloved of the Father, this moment was the ultimate price to be paid as the Saviour of the world.

As the sin of the world was atoned, Jesus carried it away into the abyss of His isolation from the Father.  Christians believe in the “omnipresence” of God.  That simply means that He is everywhere present at all times.  It’s what David explained brought Him such peace in that famous Psalm (139).  God is present everywhere.  That means that there is nowhere that you can hide or run or be abandoned by God.

I have experienced enormous strength from the promise of Hebrews 13:5-6: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”  Knowing the presence of God is with you is the ultimate experience of peace.  Nothing can touch it.  NOTHING.

I know that you are making the connection.  Jesus was forsaken by God at the cross so that we don’t EVER have to be!  He was separated from God at the moment He became sin for us, so that we can be restored, forever, to the sweet, satisfying presence of our Heavenly Father.  From the Garden of Eden until the Cross, a great gulf, an abyss, existed between God and man.

The God-forsaken abyss of our sin was fully absorbed by Jesus at the Cross.  Mark’s Gospel tells us that moments after His cry Jesus “breathed His last . . . and the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”  His crushing, death inducing separation from God opened direct access into the presence of God.  The account was so moving that the Roman centurion blurted out, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

Jesus was forsaken so that you can enter the presence of God by the sacrifice of Jesus.  Jesus was forsaken so that you can live fully aware of the presence of God “all the days of your life.”  “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Here we are Church family about to enter another “passion week.”  Can’t wait to worship the Lord with you on Sunday at the 9 or 11 AM service.  See you then, God willing,

Pastor Deric