The Rolling Stone
He took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance (v.46).
Jesus was dead—witnessed by His executioners (Mark 15:37), confirmed by Pilate (Mark 15:44), and attested by two high-court judges who prepared His lifeless body for burial (v.43; John 3:1). Jesus was laid in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. The entrance was sealed by an extremely large, round stone (Mark 15:46). It would take many strong men to move the 1- to 2-ton door. This troubled the women who had gone to anoint Jesus’ body: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” (16:3). They had worried unnecessarily, however. For the large stone “had already been rolled aside” (v.4), the work of an angel (Matthew 28:2).
The Jewish authorities had established additional security measures to ensure that the body remained in the tomb (Matthew 27:62). The massive door was sealed with the Roman seal. Anyone breaking the Roman seal faced severe punishment, imprisonment, even death. A guard of well-trained Roman soldiers was deployed to guarantee maximum security. It was very dangerous and practically impossible for anyone to go in or out of the tomb.
But the impossible happened.
There was no need, of course, to remove the stone door to let Jesus out. He could have easily walked through the tomb’s walls or through the stone door (John 20:19). The stone was rolled away for our benefit. It was done to reveal that something spectacular had taken place inside the tomb. It was done to allow the women, Jesus’ disciples, His enemies, and everyone else to go into the tomb to ascertain for themselves that His body was no longer there (Mark 16:5).
The stone door was opened, not to let Jesus out, but to let people in—to let them see for themselves that the tomb was indeed empty! Jesus had risen from the dead! (v.6).
When they entered the tomb, what did Peter and John see that told them Jesus had risen from the dead? (John 20:3).
If you were one of the women who saw that the stone had already been rolled aside, what might your reaction have been? How would you have explained what had happened to Jesus’ body?