Why was the stone rolled from Jesus’ tomb?
Is it possible that the stone was rolled away so that the Lord could come out?
Not so. The stone was not rolled away for Him to come out. He did not have any need of that. We find, later on, in the accounts of His appearances, that at one point the disciples were hidden away in a room where the windows and doors were closed and locked and Jesus Christ just walked right in. He needed no door. No wall could hold Him out. (See John 20:19 – 31)
In His resurrection body, He could walk through the stone walls of that tomb. No, the stone was rolled away so that we could look in. It was rolled away for our sakes, so that the empty tomb could be visible to all. The empty tomb is the greatest evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in all of history. I believe it is indisputable evidence. Cynics and critics have tried to explain it away, and they have not been able to. The empty tomb still stands as evidence to all that Jesus is not dead, that the bonds of death could not hold Him. He is alive today.
Some say it was the wrong tomb. But if it was the wrong tomb, the Pharisees and the Sadducees who put Jesus to death certainly would have found the right tomb, rolled the stone away, and produced the dead and decaying body of Jesus Christ. But they were unable to because it was the right tomb, and it was empty. All of the great religious leaders of history have lived and died, and their bodies are buried today. Only Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Only Jesus Christ broke the bonds of death and hell and came forth as victor.
I found this commentary in my Bible and I would like to share it with you: Jesus’ tomb was secured in three ways:
(a) A large stone was rolled against it. It was customary to roll big stones against tombs; the stones were generally too big to be moved by just a few men, so levers were used to move them. Some have estimated that the stone that sealed Jesus’ tomb weighed 1-1/2 to 2 two tons (1,361-1,814 Kilograms), which is the approximate weight of a midsize car.
(b) A Roman guard unit–which usually consisted of four soldiers–was stationed at the tomb. Roman guards were strictly disciplined fighting men held to the highest standards. Failure often required death by torturous and humiliating methods.
(c) The Roman seal was affixed to the stone that secured the tomb. The seal stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. Breaking the seal meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb’s entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.
On resurrection Sunday morning, the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was that the large stone was moved. Certainly the entire guard unit would not have fallen asleep with torture and death as the consequences. But even if the guards did fall asleep, how could thieves have sneaked by the guards and moved the massive stone without waking them up? Jesus did not need to have the angels roll the stone away. He was already resurrected and walking the earth when the women came to anoint his body with spices.
I really do not think that anyone wanted to roll the stone back again. The empty grave is proof that our Savior is no longer dead but is now risen as He has said. By Jesus resurrection, he demonstrated that he had greater power than sin and death. Jesus is an overcomer and that is His will for our lives too. In Jerusalem the tomb of Jesus still exists.
Why was the stone rolled from Jesus tomb? I don’t suppose that there is an infinitive answer to this question, but I will try to give you my thoughts and the biblical reason behind them.
First let us see what the scripture has to say about the stone.
1. Could a man move it?
Yes. Joseph rolled the stone in place, and even if he had help, men could move it. Matt 27:59-60 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
2. Did man try to keep it sealed?
Yes. Mt 27:62-66 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
3. Why was the stone rolled from Jesus tomb?
This is my answer based on the years that I have pondered the word of my Lord.
John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
1Peter 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
1Peter 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Praise God that He will draw all and all will have opportunity to receive this great plan of redemption.
John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
My answer; Thru the years I have watched and listened to a great number of preachers and teachers that are recognized by this worlds religion as being great and true authorities on God and His plan. But personally I believe many have missed the mark. Does this mean that I believe they are not saved or called of God to preach, no, it does not. However I do see a problem with many of the great denominational “truths” that are purported today. It would seem that every denomination and even those who claim to have no denominational affliction, have added their particular idea to God’s salvation plan. Some are very educationally motivated and others are almost resentful of any education. So it would seem that each of us would add our own particular twist to God’s plan, even though we would each vehemently deny doing this.
So why was the stone rolled back?
I think this is another of our Lord’s reminders that He and not man has granted salvation to man. That His righteousness is the only righteousness that can ever satisfy Him. God prepared the redemption of man before He created man and the one and only part that man has in that plan is the free will to reject it. Man cannot not even decide to be saved unless God draws him to Himself.
Also this should remind us that God will save and God will direct and God will empower those that accept His plan that they might please Him and receive the fullness that He has for them, even if they do not belong to our particular group or denomination.
I realize that perhaps I have belabored the point of the question, but this is the only way I have of answering the question. May God richly bless each of you as you prayerfully meditate on His Word.
Preacher James Avery
The rolling away of the stone was symbolic of Jesus power and authority. When the stone was placed there, Herod’s seal was placed as a sign of his authority indicating that no one with less authority than him could move the stone or cause it to be moved. Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s thus His authority superceded Herod’s and on His command, the stone was moved.
My first thought upon reading the question was: Because it was round. If it had been square or rectangle it would not have rolled. It was a rolling stone.
But after further thought, I decided that was not a good theological answer.
Only Matthew records the actual rolling away of the stone:
“In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.” Matthew 28:1-8
The reason the stone was rolled away by the angel of the Lord is undoubtedly to show all mankind the miraculous nature of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that this was not done by human hand, but by divine intervention. The great earthquake also indicates that His resurrection was divine intervention. There is no way his resurrection could be prevented by men. Peter testified later: “whom God hath raised up; having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it.” Furthermore it takes a very terrorizing event to cause the keepers to shake and become as dead men. The glorious splendor of the light emanating from the Angel as he rolled the stone away is what terrified the guards.
In the first place it was a huge stone that probably would need several strong men to move. Second it had been sealed by the Roman guard and had a watch of probably 3 to 4 soldiers guarding the tomb. The disciples were in hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. These are all factors that make it highly unlikely that the disciples would come by night and steal away the body of Jesus. This also shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that the rolling away of the stone from the door of the sepulcher was Divine Intervention.
George W. Romer
God thus made it possible for the whole world to know that His Son was risen. The first thing the women and the disciples did was to go tell the good news and we who have heard the story just keep telling the good news. He is Risen indeed! God’s plan for reaching the world with the gospel was begun.
The troubled today is that we who do know are lazy when it comes to spreading the word or maybe I should say too timid.
Proof that Jesus was no longer dead; to Mary Magdalena, and I forgot the other 2, I know there was another Mary.
To prove that Jesus rose from the dead. To prove he was not in the tomb, and that God had taken Him to Heaven. To prove he rose from the dead to save us from our sins!
The stone was rolled because he had to show a sign. If He the stone wasn’t rolled no one could even believe that He has risen. The soldiers who were guarding would also not know but to show everyone as a living testimony, the stone had to be rolled