“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:6)
This passage from Mark’s Gospel is a small part of the complete resurrection narrative available to us. I include it here to encourage you to pick up your Bible and read all the accounts we have in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. I promise that your efforts will be rewarded with some of the most exciting passages in the New Testament.
There is another reason why I draw our attention to this narrative. Not only does it give us a wonderful picture of the glory of the resurrection, it also gives us a profound statement about the power God has to take care of whatever problems we may encounter.
As the women were walking to Jesus’ tomb that morning, they asked one another, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb.” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. (Mark 16:3-4) For me, this is one of the most important messages we can take away from the Easter story. No matter how big the obstacle we face may be, God has the power to move it out of our way; that’s the power of the Risen Christ!
Each one of us has faced, is facing, or will face something in life that seems insurmountable; a problem so difficult that we can’t imagine how we are going to get through it. We get discouraged and frustrated; we worry and feel our blood pressure rise; stress-filled days and sleepless nights become all too common. “Who will roll the stone away?”
Jesus promises that he can handle whatever challenges we face in life – IF we will only lay our burdens at his feet. I hear you saying, “But that’s just so hard to do!” You’re right – it is hard for us to let God be in charge of our life.
Most of you know the challenges Linda and I have faced over the past several months. A cancer diagnosis can often be “a stone” far too big for us to roll away. It is a time when emotions take over and it becomes difficult to understand how God is going to take care of us.
You may also recall that I haven’t always been in ministry; I had another life before – a life filled with many twists and turns; frustrations and discouragements; lots of stress and sleeplessness. There were times when no memory of church was strong enough to break through to me. There were problems no prayer could solve. The stone was so big and heavy that rolling it away was not an option; I would simply remain behind it forever entombed.
Praise God, I was wrong! Grace is a wonderful thing – it moves those heavy stones out of our way. Is it really that simple, you ask? That’s up to you.
This is where the hard part kicks in. When we turn our lives over to God we must really trust him to handle things for us. We can’t turn a problem over today and then take it back tomorrow. We can’t ask God to help us and then get impatient when things don’t move as fast as we want. Faith is all about trust. Faith means trusting in things we often can’t see or understand. It means believing that God has the power to be in charge of our lives. It means believing the Gospel and trusting the promises of Jesus Christ. It means trusting that God’s Word isn’t just for people two thousand years ago – it’s a living, breathing document that still speaks to us today and continues to be true in spite of changing cultures and circumstances. Faith is all about trust and trust is all about patience.
God’s timing is almost never the same as our timing and we must be prepared to wait. The thing is – if we truly trust in God’s plan the waiting isn’t so bad. There is peace in knowing that my way is being guided by Jesus and that I don’t have to trust in my own feeble attempts to fix things. What a relief!
This Easter I pray that we will all come to understand more fully that Jesus Christ will roll away any stone that gets in our way. I know it’s not easy to give up control of our lives, but I also know that Jesus does a much better job than we do – if we’ll let him. Christ is risen, alleluia! He is alive and waiting for us to turn over our lives to his loving control. Take the easy road – Let God be in charge.