Of all the beautiful symbols of Easter, my favorite is the stone that has been rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. Depictions vary. Rays of heavenly light may beam forth from within the now-empty tomb. Sometimes, Jesus stands beside the stone, ready to greet the women – and us. In other depictions, the angels still stand guard. Occasionally, the three crosses are still visible in the distance.
What matters most is that the stone has been moved. Jesus has not been contained by the tomb or even by Death. He has defeated Death, and emerged from the tomb victorious. He has torn down every barrier that could separate us from His unconditional love. He has made all things possible, including life everlasting.
But what will happen tomorrow, when the trumpets quiet and the lilies begin to wilt? Will we roll the stone back into place, sealing up the hope and glory until next year? For all too often, even as we proclaim our love for Him, we put the barriers back up. We allow fear and doubt, anger and jealousy to work their way between us and the Lord. We see the pebbles of sin in our path and declare them impassable. We throw up our hands in surrender, when we should be throwing them up in praise.
There is no stone that cannot be moved. As Paul reminds us, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ. We must recognize the obstacles of our own making and roll those stones away, clearing the path to the life our Lord calls us to live, a life blessed and guided by His grace.
As we move forward from Easter, let us roll away all the stones. Jesus has conquered death and darkness in all its forms, and brought His light to shine brilliantly and unwaveringly into our lives. All we need to do is roll away the stone that blocks our heart from being fully open to His love and grace, and embrace the joy and promise of life in Him. He is risen! May we rise with Him, to serve Him and to follow Him all our days.
“Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son; Endless is the victory, thou o'er death hast won; Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away, Kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.”
Edmond Budry, 1884