Summary: This Easter message answers the question: “What stone is blocking a person’s life and keeping the person from being all that God wants the person to be.”
“The Stone Was Rolled Away”
The theme of today’s message comes from the Easter Cantata the choir is singing next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, “Arise and Reign.” One of the songs the choir is singing is titled, “He is Risen – Alleluia.”
The words go like this: “Look! The morning sun is rising, shining on the sparkling dew. Mary’s grieving heart surprising with the angel’s happy news! Come disciples, leave your grieving; Rush to see the empty grave. Just as Thomas bowed, believing, touch the wounds and stand amazed. He is risen, Alleluia! See, the stone is rolled away.
My Lord what a morning when the stone was rolled away.”
Matthew tells us who rolled the stone away: “Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it.” Matthew 28:2
When we combine the four Gospel stories we get a comprehensive story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There are many viewpoints on the death and resurrection of Jesus. We each come to the story with out own prejudices and bias.
Two boys were playing basketball in Kentucky when a rabid Rottweiler attacked one of the boys. Thinking quickly, the other boy ripped a board off a nearby fence, wedged it down the dogs collar and twisted it as hard as he could. The dog’s neck was broken before he could bite the other boy.
A Lexington, KY. Herald Leader reporter saw the incident take place and rushed over to interview the boy. The reporter wrote in his notebook the headline: “Young Wildcat fan saves friend from vicious animal.” The boy responded, “But I’m not a Wildcat fan.”
The reporter told him he was sorry and replied, “We’re in Kentucky and I just assumed you were a Wildcat fan.” The reported wrote another headline, “Cardinal fan rescues friend from terrible attack.” The boy looked at the pad and said, “I’m not a Louisville fan either.”
The reporter looked at him and asked, “I assumed that everyone in the state of Kentucky was either for the Wildcats or the Cardinals. What team do you root for? “I am a Tennessee Volunteer fan,” the boy replied.
The reported turned to a new sheet in his notebook and wrote: “Little redneck hoodlum kills faithful family pet.”
Everyone looks at Easter through different views. Some see Easter bunnies and egg-hunts and others see an empty tomb.
Mark 16:1-4 “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so they could embalm him. Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us.” Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back- it was a huge stone – and walked right in.”
The stone was not rolled away for Jesus to walk out. Jesus could easily walk through stones like he walked through walls where the disciples were hiding in fear of the Jews.
The question I want to ask this morning is: “What stone is blocking your life and keeping you from being all that God wants you to be.” There are many stones that are barriers to seeing and experiencing the risen Christ. This morning I want to mention two stones many people experience as barriers. You may come up with another stone that you are dealing with.
I. The Stone of Fear
Matthew 28:4 says that when the guards experienced a great earthquake and saw an angel of the Lord roll aside the heavy stone that it usually took several strong men to move. The face of the angel shone like lightening and his clothing was a white as snow. “The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.”
Mark 8:8 tells how after an angel told the women that Jesus was raised from the dead, “The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, saying nothing to anyone because they were too frightened to talk.”
There are all kinds of fears that keep us from embracing all that God wants to give us. Intense fear keeps us from having faith in the risen Lord.
We have fear of the unknown.
We fear rejection by other people.
We fear being different.
We fear failure.
Do you have fears like stones blocking your view of the empty tomb?
After the crucifixion the disciples of Jesus were hiding behind locked doors fearing for their lives. They thought they might be on the Jewish leaders hit list.
Most of our fears have no basis or facts for our fears. In a Peanuts cartoon strip Charlie Brown goes to Lucy for a nickels worth of psychiatric help. Lucy proceeds to pinpoint his particular fear. Perhaps, she says, you have hypengyophobia, which is fear of responsibility. Charlie Brown says “no.” Well perhaps you have ailurophobia, which is the fear of cats. “No,’ Well, maybe you have climacophogbia, which is the fear of staircases. “No.” Exasperated, Lucy says, “well, maybe you have pantophobia, which is fear of everything.” “Yes,” says Charlie Brown, that is the one!”