I stand still as night closes in. The guards take no notice of me. My presence simply blends in with the rest of the scenery…
- - - - - - -
A few days ago, I had heard everything from angry shouts to bitter weeping in the distance. In all my years, I do not think I had ever witnessed such an uproar. Although curiosity rose within me, I mostly ignored the far-off clamor, thankful whatever unfolding drama did not involve me.
Toward mid-afternoon I was shaken from my contentment – earthquake! I had experienced this strange shaking before, but none this forceful, as if the Creator Himself had taken hold of earth, intent on breaking it into pieces. And then, as suddenly as it had begun, the shaking stopped.
A short time later, I watched as two men brought a body and gently laid it in the tomb. Oh, what a horrible sight, that body! Evidence of such human cruelty. If ever I wanted to be elsewhere…but I couldn’t move.
The two men did not talk much to each other, although I did catch their names – Joseph and Nicodemus. The deceased must have meant something very special to them, for they were very careful with his body as they wrapped it in cloth and spices. After they finished their task, they slowly emerged from the tomb, took one last look into it, then sealed the entrance with a stone.
I know this to be true.
I am the stone – and this is my story…
- - - - - - -
It is still dark, but approaching dawn – so says one of the guards. Their routine never changes. They take turns watching for any shadow that moves, while the rest sit around a small fire, resting but still alert for any hint of danger. I really have no idea why – ever since the body was brought to the tomb, the garden has been strangely quiet, except for the guards’ occasional murmuring. I overhear a few of the guards make jokes about the deceased, and laugh with mockery over words like, “resurrection,” and “Son of God.” One guard spits on the ground as he curses the body inside the tomb, daring it to come back to life. Some join him in suppressed laughter. However, a few of the guards seem to be uneasy with such talk and move ever so slightly away from them.
Without warning, tremors begin again beneath the earth’s surface, growing stronger and stronger…and I am shaken loose from my sentinel position and rolled away as if I were a pebble! Me! A heavy-weight large enough to seal the entire entrance to a tomb! As the tremors cease, I regain my bearings…and feel someone…sitting on me…
I can only describe him as a heavenly being; I don’t recall ever seeing a mere human being shining with such radiance. He reminds me of both lightning and newly fallen snow – blindingly brilliant white.
The guards are even a stranger sight. For several days they had remained at attention, daring any and all living creatures to cross that invisible line of “their territory.” To do so, would mean automatic payment of penalty due – arrest if not death (at least to hear them tell it).
Yet, these “brave warriors” lay scattered about, having fainted from sheer fright! If I had a voice I would laugh, right out loud, at the sheer irony! And then…
He walks out.
The One who had been buried in the tomb three days ago, just…walks out of the tomb and into the quiet, pre-dawn darkness. Other than nail scars on his hands and feet and one on his side, there are no other visible signs of the gaping, blood-crusted wounds I had witnessed a few evenings ago.
He doesn’t bother to look back into the tomb. Instead, He smiles at the angel with a look on His face that can only be described as…victorious. Completely victorious.
As I also watch the angel disappear, I can only think to myself in awestruck wonder, “So this is what resurrection means.”
I know this to be true.
I am the stone that guarded His body for three days.
I am the stone meant to keep the rest of the world at bay, part of a greater work than I realized.
I am the stone that watched the Son of God return from the dead, in full glory.
I am the stone – and this is my story.
Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen…” – Matthew 28:1-6 (NLT)