WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 17, 2022
TOPIC: WHY DID THE ANGEL ROLL AWAY THE STONE?
BY T. O. BANSO
“And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it” (Matthew 28:2 New King James Version).
There is no way we can talk about the resurrection of Jesus Christ without talking about the angel that descended from heaven and rolled the stone away from the door of the tomb where Jesus was buried. I have heard the narrative that makes me ask why the angel rolled the stone away from the tomb. What role did the stone that was rolled away play in the resurrection of Jesus?
Matthew 28:2 says, “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it” (New King James Version). If you look at this verse, there is no mention of Jesus here. The next two verses say the countenance of the angel was like lightning, his clothing was as white as snow, and the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men (verses 3-4).
The incident described in verses 2-4 had happened unknown to the women before they got to the tomb of Jesus after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn. The women were Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matthew 28:1) or Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome as Mark 16:1 puts it.
They went to the tomb of Jesus to anoint His body with spices in line with the Jewish custom. But as they were coming they discussed the problem they would encounter: how to roll away the stone. Mark 16:3 says they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” (New King James Version).
This stone was not placed at the door of the tomb by the chief priests and Pharisees or the religious leaders who killed Jesus. It was placed there by a friend, not an enemy. Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea, who had also become a disciple of Jesus, used the stone, a large stone, to secure the tomb after burying Him.
Matthew 27:59-60 says, “When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed” (New King James Version).
But the Jewish leaders, with the permission of Pilate, sealed the stone and posted guards there to prevent the disciples of Jesus from stealing His body and lying that He had risen from the dead on the third day as He had said before His death (Matthew 27:62-66). It was illegal for anyone to roll away the stone unless the seal had been officially broken. Don’t forget also that the stone was large, which compounded the problem of the women who were coming to the tomb.
Let’s go back to our question: why did the angel roll away the stone? Put in another way, did the angel roll away the stone for Jesus to come out of the grave after He had risen? Was the stone a barrier to Jesus or some other person? This is important because some people’s narration of the resurrection story tends to suggest that the angel came to help Jesus to come out of the grave! In other words, Jesus came out after the stone was rolled away!
The stone was not a barrier to Jesus from coming out of the grave, so the angel couldn’t have rolled it away because of Jesus. This is because, after Jesus had risen from the grave, He could enter and leave a room even with the doors closed as recorded in Luke 24:31, 36, and John 20:19, 26.
I believe the angel rolled the stone away to demonstrate the power of God over the seal placed on the stone by the chief priests and Pharisees. The sealed stone was a barrier to Mary Magdalene and the other women to enter the tomb as they had stated. If the large stone had not been rolled away, these women would not have been able to enter the tomb to discover that it was empty. It was also a demonstration of God’s power over the guards that the chief priests and Pharisees posted to the tomb. They couldn’t stop the stone from being rolled away.
Mark 16:4-7 says, “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away — for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you’” (New King James Version).
The book of Matthew says, “But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you’” (Matthew 28:5-7 New King James Version).
Luke presents what happened thus: “But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again’” (Luke 24:2-7 New King James Version).
From these accounts, it is evident that the rolling away of the stone was a sign to these women that something strange had happened. John’s account tells us that they initially taught that the body of Jesus had been taken away. “Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him’” (John 20:1-2 New King James Version).
Without the seal being broken and the stone rolled away, Peter and the other disciples wouldn’t have been able to enter the tomb. Therefore, they wouldn’t have been aware that Jesus had risen until He would begin to appear to them as He did.
Luke 24:9-12 says, “Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened” (New King James Version).
John 20:3-10 also records how Peter and “the other disciple” ran to the tomb. Peter went into the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. The other disciple also entered the tomb, saw it, and believed.
What first made the women and the disciples of Jesus aware of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the supernatural rolling away of the sealed stone, the empty tomb, and the announcement by the angel at the tomb to the women. If Jesus had been raised from the dead quietly with the seal and stone intact and, thereafter, showed Himself to His disciples, the propaganda that He was not raised from the dead would have been worse.
When some of the guards ran to tell the chief priests what happened at the tomb, they consulted with the elders and bribed the soldiers with large money to lie that His disciples came at night and stole Him away while they slept. They promised that if the governor heard about it, they would appease him and protect them. Unfortunately, this lie spread among the Jews (Matthew 28:11-15). But how could all the guards have slept at the same time? Sleeping on duty! If they slept, as they were told to say, how did they know that Jesus’ disciples came to steal His body? Did they see them in their dream?
In addition to seeing the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene was the first person to whom Jesus revealed Himself after His resurrection. She had stayed back at the tome weeping, stooping down and looking into the tomb. Later she was talking to Jesus thinking that He was a gardener. She realized it was Jesus when He called her name. Then she left there to tell the disciples that she had seen Jesus (John 20:14-18).
Matthew 28:9-10 also records how Jesus met Mary Magdalene and the other Mary on their way from the tomb to go and tell His disciples about the empty tomb. He told them not to be afraid and go to tell His brethren to go to Galilee where they would see Him.
God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day (Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Peter 1:21). By this, it was confirmed that He was the Son of God. Paul said in Romans 1:4 that Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by the Holy Spirit.
However, the appearance of Jesus to many people after His resurrection is a greater proof that He died and rose from the dead. Acts 1:3 says that during the forty days after His crucifixion, Jesus presented Himself to His apostles alive by many infallible proofs and spoke to them about the kingdom of God. Praise God! He is alive!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and was raised on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank You for raising Jesus from the dead. Let the resurrection power be at work in the lives of Your children in a greater dimension. Cause every good thing that has died in our lives to come back to life. I command every contrary power fighting your children to be destroyed in the name of Jesus. Let all barriers before Your children be removed and let the right doors be opened for us in Jesus’ name.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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