Letters to My Friend -

Rolling Away the Grave Stones

by Mary E. Stephens
April 9, 2023

Dear Friend,

Thinking about the angel who rolled the stone away at Jesus' tomb - it seems to me that sometimes people think that he was letting Jesus out of the grave. He was not. He was opening it so that the disciples could get inside and see that Christ was already gone!

Matthew 28:1-6 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

It is hard to live the resurrection sometimes. Of course, we are raised to newness of life, but sometimes we live like we are still in bondage to death. Fear of the future, of losing loved ones, of sickness, of tragedy, or danger. It is so easy to be tempted to live like we don't have the power of Christ's resurrection within us.

Hebrews 2:14-15 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Living in the fear of death is bondage, and it is part of the devil's realm, not Christ's. Humanly speaking - beacause life is fragile and we are stuck in physically dying bodies - we can forget that spiritually, we are alive forever, that our souls are not stuck in these frail bodies. We are not the victims of death.

In fact, our bodies themselves will be changed by the power of the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:53-54 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

I wonder how many ways we hide the power of the resurrection in our lives. Just some thoughts that come to mind:

When pastors, spouses, parents, friends act like people who have professed salvation in Christ aren't truly born again and can't be trusted to get things right without their personal supervision, that is, to me, a hiding of the true power of a resurrected life in Christ. Doubting that Christians are able to hear from the Holy Spirit and walk after Him without our help or approval is closing them off from the freedom in the Spirit that they are meant to have. And we can do this to ourselves by thinking we have to have some human's approval or help in order to walk in the Spirit.

1 John 2:27  But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

Romans 8:1-6 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Here's an odd one that came to mind - There are people who like to claim that if you don't eat just the way they think you should, or if you take medication, vaccines, etc. that you are not caring properly for "the temple of the Holy Ghost." They will try to control others and force them to do as they do in these matters, and sometimes it's clear they think if you don't, you will die or be in bad health. Their apparent fear of death can lead to debilitating eating regimens, and sometimes they can make it difficult to actually serve the Lord as we should because it's such a bother to follow these plans. Life is complicated enough sometimes, without adding unnecessary burdens. Not that we should be careless, but also we shouldn't demand things that God doesn't. Again, this is a bondage we can put upon ourselves.

Matthew 15:17-18 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

Another way people can hide or deny the resurrected life is holding someone, who has sinned in the past and repented, in bondage for those past transgressions. The idea is that if you have committed certain types of sins, you are never fully forgiven and equal to all other believers. This is not to say that you don't need to take appropriate precautions to avoid falling into sin again in the same area. We all have those temptations. But, to make someone a lesser Christian, to throw a past sin up in their face every time they don't do just as we would like, this is wrong. It is implying that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection were not enough to make that person completely free and alive in Him. And again, we can do this to ourselves.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. ...9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We read in 2 Corinthians 4:6, For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

There are so many ways we can put grave stones in the way of that light, keeping the full power and knowledge of the resurrected life from ourselves or others. Maybe we need some stones rolled away in our own lives so that we can see that God has already made a miraculous change inside. Death is already conquered for those who believe! Christians are no longer in bondage to its power, and we need not be in bondage to its fear.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Because Jesus loves you, Mary Stephens


background and graphics by Mary Stephens
vintage graphic: unknown source