“And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” (Mark 16:3).
It was a “great stone” that sealed the tomb, and those coming early in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus with sweet spices were discussing the obvious question: “Who could roll it away?” It was an obstruction and a stumbling block – a hindrance against what they had come to do. The stone had to be moved.
This is, in essence, the same question that faces the Church today. There are obstacles that seem to keep us from completing the calling and purpose upon our lives and ministries, and it is easy to feel defeated against such great obstructions. So we question, “Who will roll away the stone?”
Christians, especially in Western culture, are living in a new era of anti-Christian opposition and moral decay, much of which is sustained by extreme political agendas, an educational system dominated by liberal biases, and an amoral entertainment industry. The consequences for sharing one’s testimony, public witnessing, and praying in schools are disconcerting. It is alarming to observe many in public office so lightly suggest changes to our laws that will suppress or even eliminate the religious freedoms upon which this country was founded. Christians are more and more reluctant to acknowledge their belief in Christ for fear of losing employers, business relationships, friends and family. This tension-filled atmosphere becomes a stumbling block even among Spirit-filled believers. And sadly, it’s not just those in the secular world that are taking a casual response to the floodtide of carnality, worldliness and compromise.
The world is downplaying the ignorance and wickedness that pervades modern life. It is not a small thing. Just a few days ago, we remember the shooting in a public school in Florida that killed 17 people, the majority of them just teenagers. The staggering number of friends and family who are ignoring God’s sovereignty and turning away from the values of faithfulness, righteousness and holiness should cause us concern. Satanic oppression is increasing, as are false prophets. We should ponder carefully what we would be without the infilling of the Holy Ghost. What will we be without a firm belief in the Bible as the inspired “Word of God?” George Steiner of Cambridge University wrote: “Bible literacy is passing quickly in the deep freeze of academicism.” This is a dangerous thing — let us not be so callous to believe that we as Apostolics are isolated from the effect of this societal transformation.
We must ponder, “Who shall roll us away the stone?” We cannot be deceived into the arrogant belief that by our human might or power we can do much to counteract great evil. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Let us humbly approach our callings and our challenges and the pressing need for revival. “Who can roll away the stone?” Self-reliance traps us in our own abilities and ideas. No matter how sincere the attempt, merely applying our knowledge of the latest secular business strategies, implementing great marketing plans or imitating corporate leadership schemes will not move the great stone. I am not suggesting that we not strive for excellence and professionalism, but that alone cannot be the goal. It cannot take precedence over the Spirit. Men do not possess the answers or know the way, but we do know if we act outside the wisdom of the Spirit, we will be lost. The Church will not move the stone of confusion, wickedness and sin by imitating the world’s entertainment and the world’s methodology.
Consider this poignant quote from Justice William O. Douglas written in 1976. “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such a twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air—however slight—lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”
We know that night comes. But Jesus is the light of the world and the light of our lives. Our strength lies only in the anointing and power of the Holy Ghost. Have faith!
“And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great” (Mark 16:4).