Today: Saturday, December 07, 2019

Rolling Stone    (4/30/2017 )

In the heart of England, in the Derbyshire hills, is an area of rocks where every so often you come across a great section of rock which has been carved like a great wheel.  This is gritstone country, and these carved stones are the remains of a great industry which went on here for centuries.  These stones were cut from the hillside and shaped to be used in mills around the country for grinding corn.  They can be anything up to 1.5 metres in diameter, with a squared hole in the centre so that they could be turned to grind against a lower stone.

What is so striking about these left over stones is their size, and that with only the most basic of tools, men quarried and shaped these stones on the hillside and then transported them many miles around the country.

It must have been a similar circular stone, massive and heavy, that sealed the tomb of Jesus.  Just as the millstone crushes the wheat, so that stone represented a crushing of hope.  Those who visited that tomb in Jerusalem, must have felt crushed by the stone door, the tomb stone, that excluded them and that locked in the body of Jesus.

Because the authorities feared that the disciples might steal the body of Jesus, they sealed the stone and set a guard.  it was a formidable barrier.

The women who went to the tomb on Easter Sunday morning realised that the stone could  be an insurmountable barrier (see Mark 16, verses 1-7).  They hadn’t the strength to roll it away.  How were they going to complete the task of embalming the body of Jesus?

But that morning, everything changed.  The seal was broken, the stone was rolled back and the guards had fled.  The earth itself had moved.  What had been a solid and final barrier was now an open door.

It’s still possible to see ancient graves in Israel with round rocks for doors.  Their job is to close the door of death.  That Easter day one was opened and became the door to life.

One of the great Easter hymns, written by the Methodist Charles Wesley nearly three hundred years ago, has a verse which says -

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal;

Christ hath burst the gates of hell:

death in vain forbids his rise;

Christ hath opened paradise.

The ultimate barrier of death has been broken open, crushing grief has been rolled back, a door has been opened where before there was only a dead end.  That is the Easter hope which can transform every crushing problem and darkness itself into an opening for life and a place of trusting prayer.


Lord Jesus, by your resurrection you have changed the face of the world and the darkness of the grave.  Roll back the stones which threaten me, fill me with hope because you are alive, and lead me through that door to life itself.

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