“A Word for this Week” Pastor Bill Mugnolo: HARP Pastoral Advisor
Week of 4-17—23, 2017: “The Rolling Stones” … Matthew 28:2
“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone and sat on it” (Matthew 28:2). Christ had risen; the tomb was empty; the stone, which had sealed the tomb, had been rolled away! You might say that at Easter we have “a rolling stone”.
But Easter isn’t just about a rolling stone—it’s meant to be about, in the plural, “the rolling stones”. Now we’re not talking here about the famed British rock band. What we’re saying is that, in the Risen Christ, other stones are meant to be rolled away, too.
By nature, all of our hearts are like tombs with stones rolled over them. We seal inside our hearts the stench and death of our sins. Jesus once called the leaders of the Jews “whitewashed tombs”—that is, they appear beautiful on the outside, but full of rot on the inside (Matthew 23:27). Aren’t we all like that as well? The Prophet Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
We cannot “whitewash” our sin—it can only be “bloodwashed”. John tells us that “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). As our once crucified and now risen Lord, Jesus looks to roll away the stone from your heart and then go inside of it. There, He turns death into life and restores you to a right relationship with God.
Yes, the stone has been rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. Has the stone been rolled away from the tomb of your heart? The famed British band may well have once sung, “time … is on my side”. But Jesus, when it comes to receiving Him and His gift of forgiveness, salvation, and a new heart, says otherwise. His Word tells us, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2) and “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Psalm 95:8).
Then, for those of you who are already in Christ, you will often be tempted to roll that stone that Jesus once rolled away back over your heart. We’d like to entomb within them feelings of bitterness, anger, resentment, envy, and vengeance. We can add to this the “dead bones” of lust, greed, fear, and frustration. When we see what we keep holding in, we can only cry, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10). He then will roll the stone away, again and again, as in Him we get … all … satisfaction.