Those who have heard about Jesus would have heard that He was crucified; buried in a tomb and three days later he rose again. In the Bible Mark 16:1-6 describes the events of that third day starting at dawn.
Three women namely Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome set out early in the morning with sweet spices to anoint the body of their beloved Jesus. The very Jesus who forgave sins, healed the multitudes, proclaimed the kingdom of God and filled their lives with the hope that He is the Messiah. And yet, this morning he lays betrayed, falsely accused, tortured, very dead and buried in a tomb of another man in Roman occupied Israel. And yet these traumatised, heartbroken and desolate women go to the tomb with the hope to anoint His corpse with perfume. To honour him in death as they did in his life.
They must have had many questions within them but they asked only one out loud. “Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?”
Flash forward 2000 years into the future when Christians know and believe that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God sent as the sacrificial lamb to wipe away the sins of all mankind to save us from death. I was taught that the stone before the tomb represents my problems, issues and challenges in life. I was taught to learn from the women who walked forward despite the ‘problem’ to pour out the perfume, which represents worship. I was taught that as a Christian when I have problems I should go to worship God and my problems will go away.
I was traveling by train one day and I overheard two gentlemen speaking about religion. They were eagerly discussing the subject of achieving perfection by following and fulfilling every condition and rule or commandment in the religious texts. The conversation included themes of perfection equalling success in life, achieving happiness, satisfaction and of course going to heaven after death. They were trying to find out the best way to be perfect according to the requirements of religion. They tried to find answers through psychology, in being disciplined, in somehow being transformed into a perfect being. Hearing these gentlemen of another faith struggling with the same issue I struggled with most of my life helped me realise that the greatest stone I have ever faced in my path is my own weaknesses, imperfections and sins. If sin itself was my great stone how was I supposed to worship a Holy God? A holy God deserves the worship of the righteous, not the sinner.
“How could I go to pour out the perfume with hands as filthy as mine?”
The answer to that lies in the grace of God. Ephesian 2:8, 9 says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; Not of yourselves: It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Romans chapter 5 says we have peace with God through Christ. Romans11 says salvation is by grace alone and not by works. What is grace? It is unmerited favour. It means no one deserves it but it is a gift freely given by God through Christ.
Grace changed me. I finally learned to accept I was not enough to lift this burden and that Christ bore it instead of me. What happened on the cross became overwhelmingly clear when I viewed it through the lens of Grace. When the two Marrys and Salome reached the sepulchre they saw that the stone was rolled away. They were seeking a crucified Jesus instead they heard the declaration “He is risen”. It was the resurrection of Christ that rolled away what stood between the people and God.
On the day of Resurrection, the stone got rolled away not just for Mary and the other women so they could witness the power and mystery of God. The stone rolled out of my way too. Now I go into the sepulchre just as I am. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says ‘My grace is sufficient for you; for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’
The great stone I could never roll out of my way to reach My God’s presence was rolled away for me by what Christ did. I could never meet the requirements of the law of the religious texts. I could never meet the holiness of the Almighty. So Jesus carried the great burden, met the requirements and bore the punishment for my mistakes and defeated all claims of sin over me.
Now all I have to do is walk into the place of resurrection knowing and believing I am no longer a sinner. I am perfume.