(April 05, 2023) Mama Lava caringly asks a question…
Hi again! How are you all?
I’m honoured that you’ve joined me on the Back Porch today! And I have a sincere question for you… How are you handling Holy Week?
I don’t mean your plans, agendas, and schedules. I am not asking about church services, egg hunts, and family gatherings. I am referring to your inner wellbeing.
Are you conflicted? Do you recognise the joyous meaning of Easter, but find it difficult to overcome the lofty burdens you are currently carrying?
Me too! It can be challenging to focus on victory when we feel threatened by defeat. But God is ministering to me through an unlikely character in the Easter story, the stone.
Every year I seem to connect with, and learn from, different characters in the Resurrection story. Two years ago, I related to Simon Peter. Unfortunately, I had let my tongue get ahead of my better judgment just like he did. I wrote about it here: Celebrate Full Forgiveness, Rich Reconciliation, and Lessons for Life. Maybe you can relate.
Last year, I was put to shame by Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome. I marvelled over their commitment to Jesus. You can find that post here: Might Have Missed the Miracle. I had to admit that, in their shoes, I might not have been so faithful. Would you have been?
The role of the stone (pun intended)
This year, I’m thinking about the stone that was rolled in front of the grave after Jesus’ body was laid inside. It hardly passes for a character in the story (can you imagine being cast in the role of the stone in the Easter pageant?), but I keep coming back to it. I did a little research and learned a few relevant things.
- The stone was likely very large. It would have been set above the opening to the grave, which was hollowed out of a rocky hillside. There would have been a downhill trench so, after a giant shove, gravity would do the work of moving the stone into place. Removing the stone would be very difficult, since it would involve pushing the massive weight uphill.
- Jesus’ friend Lazarus was also buried in this sort of grave. In that story, the stone was not impossible to move; at least not while Jesus was present. He asked the people gathered around to move it and they did.
‘Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” He said. So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me”’ (John 11:38, 41).
- The lions’ den in Daniel’s story had a stone over its opening. King Darius added a seal to the stone making it illegal, as well as physically difficult, to remove. But if you know the story, you know Daniel was joined by the angel of the Lord and the king ordered the den be opened.
‘A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed… Daniel answered, “My God sent His angel, and He shut the mouths of the lions.” The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den’ (Daniel 6:17, 21, 22a, 23a).
- Pilot went a step further with Jesus’ grave. In addition to the stone and the seal, he posted a guard. He wanted to be sure it was impossible to access.
‘Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away… “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard’ (Matthew 27:59-60, 65-66).
The barriers seemed insurmountable. The tomb was secured by physical, legal, and life-threatening obstacles. But none of it stopped God from opening the tomb.
‘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’ (Matthew 28:2).
Don’t you just love that? As impossible as the situation looked, it was nothing for God. His angel rolled back the stone and then just sat there like it was no big deal.
Handling Holy Week in light of the stone
So, I’m handling Holy Week in light of the stone. It brings me incredible encouragement. It is an example of God’s ability to remove the things which stand between me and Him; between me and His victory.
All the stones I mentioned in the stories of Lazarus, Daniel, and Jesus appeared difficult, if not impossible, to move. Humanly speaking. But none of them was too cumbersome for God.
What kind of stones have rolled into your life? Do you face the –
- Heaviness of sin?
- Weight of addiction?
- Burden of grief?
- Pressure of despair?
- Immobilisation from worry?
- Opposition from legislation?
- Fear of human conflict?
- Obstacles you don’t see a way around?
What is keeping you from handling this Holy Week with all-out joy? What stands between you and full victory with Jesus? Know this, my precious friend, none of it is too heavy for God.
When the time is right, He will move those stones for you. In the meantime, will you join me in rejoicing that He is able? His power and victory change everything! God will not be contained, restrained, or detained.
There is no stone that our risen Lord cannot move. Do you believe that? Can you celebrate it? Does it change how you are handling Holy Week? Remember Romans 8:37…
Mama Lava believes in making the big world a bit smaller through connection. Believing that everybody deserves to be wrapped in maternal love when they need it, she regularly shares encouragements… telling life experiences from an unapologetically Christian viewpoint the way she sees it, just as a mother does. Link: Mama Lava’s Back Porch (A Dose of Maternal Love).