Stones and Declarations
Recently, in my quiet moments with Jesus, I have been reading through the Gospels. I love to read about God with flesh on. How He moved, how He was different, and how He was the master of unexpected goodness and grace. Yes, Jesus fascinates and inspires me.
Well, have you ever read a scripture verse and just known, deep down in your soul, that a couple thousand years couldn’t separate its relevance and intimacy in the right now?
The Word of God – it truly is living and active, right now, right here. And friends, perhaps you are walking in a space or valley that needs some timeless reminding. This week, I know I did. I want to share with you what He has shown me.
Let’s start with reading Matthew 28…
“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. (2) There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it…
The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. (6) He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. (7) Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.’
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid, yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (9) Suddenly, Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.”
Matthew 28:1-2, 5-9
As soon as they were able, the women, still in shock with the horrible crucifixion and death of Jesus, went to “look” at the tomb where He had been buried. Their world had been rocked, a scenario that played out a reality that they certainly hadn’t seen coming.
They were unprepared for His suffering and their own. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, heralded like a king, but instead of a victory lap, He was betrayed, denied, mocked, beaten, bloodied, crucified, died, and buried.
His disciples were scattered, many returning to the safety of their old lives. The women who loved and followed Him were devastated, running to the tomb as soon as possible. They hurried to lament, to give space and permission to their grief, their disappointment. The verse says that they hurried to “look at” the tomb.
When they arrived at the tomb, though, their space had already changed. Literally. The ground shook (“a violent earthquake” in vs. 2), the very stone that sealed their heartbreak rolled away, and an angel spoke directly into that shattered space and declared a vastly different story line.
Listen to the angel’s words…
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay…”
Friends, there just might be places in your life where you keep returning to that hurt and loss, grief and disappointment…and those things have come to define you. Those things have defined a chunk of your past and, quite frankly, they are threatening to define your future, too. (I am talking to myself here, too.)
There are experiences in your life that genuinely stink. They hurt you. They blindside and disappoint you. But, like those women running back to the memory of Jesus’s suffering and death, there is a vastly different declaration that is waiting for you, too.
Your freedom and hope will never be found in a place of death. That’s just not how He works.
And as much as you (or I) may want to hold on to those things that wounded, we just can’t. Sure, you can try, but let me assure you, when that ground shakes and that stone that was meant to hold all that awful rolls away, you have to let it go, too. If that stone moved, so should you.
We can’t stay at the tomb, or even in it. There is life and victory BEYOND it. And He, my friends, has gone ahead of you and I to give us hope!
We may want to weep, to grieve our loss and mourn the life that went awry. We wait to do this. We hold on to it like a blanket, taking it on as an identity. A badge that identifies as much as it validates.
But this “identity” of hurt and loss does not have in mind what is up ahead. It can only declare who or what we have been. It can never pronounce a promise or declare hope.
It does not see new life. It can’t.
When those faithful women ran to the tomb, they went to look at it.
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay… He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you…”
He is no longer in that place of death and suffering. He knows what you are looking for can never be found there. Hope is never located where Jesus is not.
And though He promises to walk with you through the deepest valley, He also assures you that He will not leave you there. He walked with you through it, was faithful and good in it, but now He has left it. You can, too. So can I.
But there’s more, beloved…
In our invitation to arise and receive this good news, we have a charge, too: “Go quickly and tell His disciples…” Don’t keep this good news to yourself, sweet friend. There are more people in bondage and searching at their own tombs of woundedness that desperately need to know He has defeated it.
This message, His message, of freedom, victory, and hope is for everyone. We cannot keep it to ourselves. We MUST share it. We must.
“Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations.”
“When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'”
Now I am not trying to say that all the wounds we have suffered are easy to walk away from, to forgive, to release. No. I can personally admit that they are not. We each have stones that are heavy and hard.
But like the mighty stone that sealed Jesus in that place of death wasn’t a match for the movement and plans of God, so your stones, too, cannot deny their impotence in the face of a Good, Good, Father.
His Promises, His good plans, His unexpected grace and mercy, even in the face of such devastation and loss, always add up to His faithfulness.
He promises never to leave us. I don’t know about you, but that’s all I need to know.
The song I want to share with you today is new from Jesus Culture, entitled, “Sound of Adoration.” It is warming my heart these days, reminding me to loose the power of praise from my lips, pressing forward into His goodness. Praying it blesses and reminds you, too, today.
With joy for the journey,