God Is Able

Death is that unpleasant subject that many people dread discussing and most of us dread facing.  Woody Allen quipped, “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”  But no matter how much we despise the subject, death will come our way.  Benjamin Franklin summarized it well: “In this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes.”

When death comes, it breaks the hearts of those who are left behind.  

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome experienced such heartbreak.  For three years they had followed Jesus around and devoted their time, their resources, and their lives to him.  He became the center of their lives, and they loved him dearly.

Then they saw him arrested.  They saw him beaten mercilessly.  They saw him mocked and condemned and marched through the streets of Jerusalem to the “Hill of the Skull,” where he was nailed to a cross naked.  They watched him breathe his last breath and die.  They cringed as a spear was thrust into his heart to confirm his death.  Then they watched as his corpse was laid in a tomb, with a massive boulder rolled across the entry.

The next day, the women huddled together, not knowing what else to do.  Their minds were in a fog.  They could make no sense of what had happened.  How could God have allowed people to have done such things to Jesus?  After this, the future seemed empty, worthless and terrifying.  If such things could be done to one as loving and good as Jesus, what good could the future hold for them?

Early the next morning, while it was still dark, they got some spices to anoint his body, feeling desperate to express their love by anointing his remains.

But suddenly it dawned upon them that they would not be able to do what they longed to do.  They would not be able to anoint the body of Jesus because a large gravestone blocked the entrance to the tomb. 

That horrid stone seemed to represent all of their despair.  It was too big for them.  Three of them together would not be able to move it.

That horrid stone was evidence of the finality of Jesus’ death.  It gave testimony to the fact that Jesus was gone from them forever.  In stark fashion, it represented their distance from him.  It reminded them of their aloneness.

That horrid stone reminded them of the hopelessness of their future and the coldness of their lives without him.

But when they looked up, Mark 16:4 tells us, “They saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.”

The gravestone, which had seemed to them to be an unconquerable obstacle was gone!  And death, which seemed to be even more unconquerable, was overcome! 

An angel announced to the women, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has been raised; he is not here.  Look, there is the place they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 

These women were the first witnesses to the greatest breakthrough in human history: the conquering of death!

This was completely unexpected and shocking to them.  Mark records their reaction: “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them.”

As shocking as it was to the women, the empty tomb was and is evidence that nothing in our lives is too much for God. 

Someone expressed it this way:  “Write it over all your difficulties; pen it over all your disappointments; inscribe it on all your fears, post it over all your troubles: GOD IS ABLE!” 

This is the great good news of the resurrection: God is able!  The One who raised Jesus from the grave will care for us in all things with his unconquerable love.

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