Have you ever messed up so badly or maybe you just know someone who has messed up so badly that you wonder: who in the world is going to clean up this mess?
My girlfriends and I have this expression when talking about the debris left in the wake of some of our trials. We say, “Ewww! That’s messy.”
Your sin, your past, your mistakes, your failures, your poor choices can be so rank that it stinks to high heaven. Who’s coming to fix it, dress it up and leave you and those involved with an ounce of dignity? This Easter Sunday don’t let a long list of mistakes and poor choices keep you from accessing what’s rightfully yours.
Let’s take a trip back to the original Easter. It’s Sunday morning and two women named Mary have come to clean up a mess. They’re armed with sweet-smelling spices according to Mark 16 and Luke 24. This is an appointment with death. The fragrance of the spices would’ve masked the smell of the decaying body they prepared to encounter inside the stone-encased tomb. The stone at the tomb’s entrance is meant to keep Jesus’s body in and to keep others out. But, the Bible says an angel comes to roll back the stone.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 28:5-6)
Throughout our faith journey, time and again the spiritual realm comes to help us do what we cannot do. As the stone is rolled away, the two Marys probably stood there bracing for what would come next. Remember, this is an appointment with death; their beloved Jesus is on the other side. The stone is rolled away and the two Marys witness a surprise plot twist. There is no Jesus!
There is no stench of death.
There is no decay.
There is no condemnation.
The tomb is empty!
We know the lesson of this exact moment. The God we serve conquered the power of the grave; death has no sting. He went in dripping in blood and robed in our shame, our iniquities, our sin. Then He emerged whole, healed, new, and improved. He escaped the clutch of the enemy! So why can’t you?
Jesus has left the building. The tomb is empty and yet some of us keep going back to the tomb. The harsh judgment of others can send us running back to the tomb. Our naysayers, critics and haters want us permanently fixed in the past tense, mourning what was, what we did, what happened. But, sometimes our greatest enemy is within. Negative self-talk can keep our past poor choices on constant rotation. We go back to the grave, incapable of forgiving ourselves for our transgressions, for our past. When we don’t really believe in the miracle of a Risen King, we cannot emerge healed and elevated. We will more easily believe the inner critic, the inner hater than believe the miracle that is ourselves.
How sad when you consider that we have a God-given birthright to salvation.
Instead we believe, I’m too dirty. I’ll never be clean. You can’t roll back my stone.
I’m too broken, too wounded. I’ll never be healed You can’t roll back my stone.
I’m unlovable, I’m undesirable. No one will ever want me. You can’t roll back my stone.
I’m not smart enough. I can’t compete. You can’t roll back my stone.
I’m too tired. My spirit is weary. I’ve been through too much. You can’t roll back my stone.
These excuses that keep us from experiencing a deeper faith, a greater lover are all lies. Whatever we think is behind us, it’s already gone. Just roll back the stone! The two Marys thought they’d come to clean up a mess. But, their assignment was a MESSage. Their assignment was to share what they’d witnessed.
“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” (Matthew 28:8)
Remember, the stone was meant to keep Jesus in and others out. Your stone, that list of faithless excuses, is meant to keep you in and God out. What a shame. What a loss if you don’t get to flee from that standing appointment you’ve made with death. What a pity if you don’t get to tell somebody that condemnation cannot hold you captive. You don’t have to live there anymore.
Roll back the stone on financial struggle, workplace frustration, petty conflicts, laziness, depression, abuse, addiction, bitterness, anger, disappointment, resentment, and jealousy. Push it out of the way. Whatever it is, it has no dominion and no authority over you anymore. The tomb is empty. What’s behind is not there anymore! He rose on the third day for you. Thank God for the Third Day, the chance to start fresh with a clean slate and love that renews.
Happy Easter! He paid the price because you are worth it.