“On Your Mark”
Who Shifted the Stone? (Chapter 16 V 1- 8)
The declaration of Jesus’ resurrection here in this chapter is as fundamental to our Christian faith, as is the death of our Saviour. Our faith must rest upon these fundamentals (1Corinthians 15.1-4). Any denial of his resurrection forfeits the right to be called Christian at all. We have the testimony of God concerning his Son (1John 5.9-12), and on that we rest, or we have no life in us. The women folk had to wait until after the Sabbath because what they were about to do for Jesus was construed as work according to Jewish law (v1). The necessary spices were purchased on the Saturday night, because the Sabbath finished at sunset. It was not a twenty four hour Sabbath day. These ladies seek to perform this anointing out of love for Jesus, but it is a glorious thought is it not that the spices were bought in vain, they were never used. The reason for the early morning trip to the tomb (v2), would be because time was pressing on and the body would very soon begin to decompose. The answer to the women’s anxiety about the stone (v3), is answered from one of our children’s song books;
“God rolled the stone away,
To show that Jesus lives;
Hear what the angels say,
What comfort their words give” (D. Saltwell).
The women are so taken up with their task they do not, until this time, even consider the problem of moving the stone, but like all the other details, God has it all in hand. It had been rolled away completely (v4), as evidence of the mighty, powerful resurrection of Jesus from the dead (John 20.5-10). There were no witnesses of the actual rising, but Jesus had walked away from the tomb, by the supernatural power of God (1Peter 3.18), full of life. Silently, invisibly, wondrously, gloriously the living Lord Jesus.
Now the resurrection was a source of great joy as well as an central theme of the early Church’s worship, and rightly so. The first day of the week became the Christian Sabbath Day, the day they met together to worship, because it was the day their Lord rose from the grave. The Lord of life and the Lord of the Sabbath lay in the grave all that fatal seventh day, and we can say that the dead Sabbath of Judaism was buried beside him. But unlike him, it was never resurrected. The new covenant Sabbath, the first day of the week. These cataclysmic events in history, not to mention the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon his Church (Acts 2), marked the worship of God in a way that caused the world to take notice. I ask you, can that be said of our worship services? Are they Spirit-filled, joy-filled occasions?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)