Summary: Easter message...powerful lessons we can learn from when the stone rolled away, revealing Jesus’ resurrection.
*INTRO>If you were to take a survey on the street, asking folks to identify the greatest rolling stone, most would probably name Mick Jagger, although some might give a nod to Keith Richards because he is such a specimen and testimony of what damage prolonged drug use will do to your body. But the greatest rolling stone, hands down, so far as historical consequence and affect on people’s lives is not a rocker like Jagger or Richards, but a real rock...the stone that was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb of Jesus Christ.
->In the past several weeks we’ve looked at the events of Passover Week...from Jesus’ weeping outside Jerusalem on His way to a triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, to teaching His disciples on Thursday evening what it means to be a servant leader and how He is indeed the long-awaited Messiah, the Passover Lamb sent by the Father. We’ve looked at His final words spoken to the Sanhedrin, declaring unabashedly that He is indeed the Son of God, words spoken to Pilate declaring that He is a King, words spoken to the weeping women, telling them to weep for themselves. Then we examined Jesus’ final words from the cross, forgiving us all, declaring the salvation of a penitent thief, and taking care of His mother, followed by His words of tasting the thirst of sin, declaring the fulfillment of prophecy in Psalm 22 as He yelled out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”, followed by His declaration that love’s redeeming work was finished, and trusting His spirit over to the Father.
->But today we come to the culminating event of Passover Week, and the most important event in human history...the resurrection of Jesus, as revealed by the rolling stone.
->I know we read earlier from Matthew 27, but I want to ask you to open a Bible now and turn to John, chapter 20.
---The events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus, like so many other events in Jesus’ life, require us looking at all the Gospel accounts in order to get the full picture of what took place.
->While you’re turning, let me say it again...I love Easter!
---ILL>A few years ago a dad was watching with great enjoyment his 3-year old daughter getting excited as Easter Sunday came closer and closer. Theirs was a family who made a big deal about Easter...hiding eggs, eating chocolate bunnies, buying new clothes, and going to church services together as a family, followed by a special meal. But the dad pulled his little daughter aside and asker her, “Jenny, do you know what the real meaning of Easter is?” The little girl looked up at her dad, and in the enthusiasm and wide-eyed innocence of a 3-year old, threw her hands out wide, and shouted, “Surprise!”
->That’s actually what the devil experienced...as did the religious leaders, the soldiers, and even Jesus’ followers, as what seemed to be the end of Jesus’ mission on Friday turned into such victory, and its full and new beginning on that Easter Sunday morning.
<>Today, we begin by acknowledging the fact that the stone was indeed rolled away. That’s without any dispute.
--It if wasn’t rolled away, we wouldn’t have seen what was inside.
<>Also, who rolled the stone away is documented in Matthew 27: an angel of the Lord rolled it away.
--In fact, literally, the Greek word translated into English tells us he rolled it UP and away...he rolled it uphill, which would explain how Joseph of Arimathea would have been able to roll it into place by himself...he rolled it downhill.
<>So, our focus today is on 3 primary questions, each of which brings greater meaning and practical applications to our lives:
--a) WHY was the stone rolled away?
--b) WHAT did the rolling stone reveal?
--c) HOW does it find meaning in our lives today?
<>WHY THE STONE WAS ROLLED AWAY...
1) It certainly was not rolled away to let Jesus out.
-->Jesus didn’t need the stone to be gone in order to come out of the tomb.
-->Later that night, in fact, He would appear to the disciples in a second-floor room while the doors were locked.
---Jn.20:19 -- “When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”
-->No, the Creator of the universe would not be in any way confined by a big rock over the entrance to the tomb.
2) The truth is, THE STONE WAS ROLLED AWAY TO LET US LOOK INSIDE.
-->It was rolled away so we could do just as the angel suggested to the women...to come and see that Jesus was indeed risen, just as He said.