The Stone Was Rolled Away
Mark 16:1-8 1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Not only did Jesus have to die upon the cross in order to be the Christ but in order for anyone today to believe that these events are actual history, Jesus had to be buried in a sealed tomb. On the first day of the week (what we call Sunday), on the day after the Sabbath (which is the seventh day of the week), Jesus rose from the dead. Many people throughout human history have been thought to be dead but later came back to life. Sometimes it is simply a misdiagnosis where a person’s pulse and breathing are so weak that people just assume that the person is dead. Sometimes it is a genuine miracle of God whereby the person has actually died and is brought back to life by the very hand of God as in the case of Lazarus as recorded in John 11. But in every instance the person eventually died again. There was always a final end of their life in the body and the temporary physical revival of the body was eventually met with an absolute ending. Everyone eventually dies. Some people appear to be near the end of their life and by God’s mercy their lives are extended a little bit longer but in every instance their wages are paid in full: Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death.
Every employee is due their wages and in the case of all of mankind, we deserve death for the sins we have committed and for the original sin of Adam in his rebellion against God which brought the curse of death into this world. Every person will get what they deserve one day: death, no matter how good or evil they may claim to be.
But there is one man who has walked upon this earth who did not deserve to die. There is only one man who has ever lived that was actually perfect in every way. This of course is Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt. If you truly examine the actions of Jesus as recorded in the Bible you can’t but be amazed at how perfect He acted in every instance. There is no flaw to be found. There is no way He could be tricked or deceived or overcome. The only reason why Judas Iscariot was able to betray Jesus and the only reason why the religious leaders in Jerusalem were able to successfully crucify Jesus is that it was the will of God and that Jesus gave Himself over to them. He died to fulfill all righteousness. He died in perfect obedience to God the Father in order that His perfect righteousness could be given to all who will repent and believe in Him. Every born again Christian is clothed in Jesus Christ’s righteousness because He, who did not deserve to die, died in our place.
Just as Jesus Christ is the only person who has ever lived that did not deserve to die, He is the only person to ever live who was brought back to life never to die again. Jesus did not recover from death only later to die again, He rose from death victorious! He defeated death! He overcame the grave! How could this be? Because He was raised back to life in a body that was different from and yet the same as the body that died upon the cross. He was raised from the dead in a glorified body that was no longer in a state of decay as our bodies are as a consequence of sin. His glorified body is as perfect as He is perfect and is eternal.
But why did Jesus have to be buried in a sealed tomb? Because if Jesus never really died, it all could be smoke and mirrors. If somehow Jesus’ body was smuggled away after He had died, maybe He never rose again. It all could be a lie. And so, Jesus, who had no earthly wealth (Matthew 8:20) and means by which to afford a tomb with a large stone covering, was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea who donated it for this purpose (Mark 15:46). The tomb of Jesus was sealed and guarded to prevent any sort of tampering (Matthew 27:62-66). There is no doubt that Jesus died. But it is equally true that Jesus rose from the dead in a glorified body. How could this be proven? The greatest body of proof could only be found in the last place where Jesus had been seen in a state of physical death: in the tomb itself. And so when the same women who had witnessed the death of Jesus of Nazareth upon the cross came to the tomb where Jesus was buried, Jesus did not appear to them outside of the tomb before they first saw the evidence inside. But how would they enter in? The book of Matthew describes how the stone was rolled away:
Matthew 28:2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
The stone was rolled away not so that Jesus could leave the grave (He was able to pass through walls in His glorified body) but rather so that the witnesses could enter in to see the evidence. As the women entered the tomb of Jesus, the angel proclaimed the message that Jesus had risen from the dead but also pointed to the place where Jesus was laid in His graveclothes following the crucifixion. Jesus’ glorified body was raised up through the graveclothes proving He was not unwrapped by someone or that His body was taken. John 20:6-7 also describes the appearance of the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. William Nicholson writes, “There they were in exactly the position the body had occupied. And the napkin was "in a place by itself" on the very spot where the head had rested. It was also "wrapped" or rolled "together," that is, the head being removed, it had collapsed and was shrunken. It had not been unfolded, and none of the fastenings were loosened, indicating that it had not been taken off the head but that the head had been taken from out of it. There, then, they lay- linen clothes and napkin too- no bandage undone, none of the folds disturbed, no change in position, but only shrunken.” The greatest evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was found in the very tomb where He was buried. As Jesus next appears to His followers in His glorified body it was no trick or show but rather the truth as shown by the evidence within the tomb. Isn’t the resurrection of Jesus Christ utterly astounding? Can you believe it? How great is the Son of God who came to save us from our sins! He is worthy of all our praise!
Pastor Murray Hack
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