SCRIPTURE: Matthew 28:1-2
“After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.”
The details of the Gospels are fascinating. Whereas Mark’s Gospel is sparse, Matthew’s Gospel offers intriguing and extended narration. In Matthew, the women go to the tomb of Jesus and face formidable barriers in the guards patrolling the tomb’s perimeter as well as the heavy stone sealing the tomb’s entrance. The obstacles would be too powerful for the women. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake and an angel, who looked like lightning, rolled back the heavy stone. The angel then leisurely sits on the stone, thereby drawing our eyes to that angelic resting place. The Guards faint in fear at the appearance of the angel.
Can you imagine? This awesome display of light and power, and the angel finishes it with a relaxed demeanor atop the stone that had formerly sealed the tomb. Whether the rock of the stone was igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary, now it had holy purpose serving as a place of angelic proclamation. That stone had once been a sturdy barrier; now, it was a living pulpit where the Good News was proclaimed. That stone had once sealed in the dead; now, it served as a springboard to eternal life. From that perch, the angel tells the women that Jesus is no longer in the tomb; they are told to go tell the disciples that Jesus has been raised from the dead and that he will meet them in Galilee. The seated angel drains the dreaded rock of its dark symbolism.
In our lives, we will face our share of daunting impediments to joy and the fullness of life. We confront stones blocking us from a holy way forward; we encounter stones that seal us away in the dead places of our own making, depriving us of Light and Life, hope and love. Like the women on their way to the tomb of Jesus, we wonder who will remove the obstacles, lest we have to turn around and live in strife and misery.
Today is Easter Sunday. Today is the day when what was an obstacle – a cross, a stone, a bad habit, a hidden sin, a deep fear, or an empty life can be transformed by the power of the Risen Lord, who conquered the greatest obstacle of all– death. We worship the Risen Lord who moves stones and transforms lives, and who makes our stumbling blocks become stepping stones. On this Easter Sunday, may God roll away the obstacles of your life and transform them into holy vantage points, showing you the way to life– abundant and eternal.
Have a blessed and Happy Easter Season!
Rev. Joseph James, Jr.
Senior Pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church