SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 20130331: "Who'll Roll the Stone?"

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Who'll roll the STONE?


          Soviet Russia under Godless Communism decided they would attempt to aggressively eradicate all traces of Christianity from Russian Society and Culture. They turned huge churches into museums extolling the superiority of atheism over Christianity. They sent out experienced lecturers who used logic to attempt to persuade the people against Christianity and for atheistic communism.  This attempt at "Atheistic Evangelism" was coinciding with America and the Western world's "Neo-Pentecostal revival."

          Now, Russia's primary religion is "Russian Orthodoxy." Currently, 41% of all Christians in Russia have standard beliefs in historic Christianity, but in the sixties and seventies after 40 years of Godless Communism, there were many more "secret believers," than the Russian leadership acknowledged.

          One lecturer gathered a crowd deep in the Ukraine that still held to a stubborn belief in Christianity. He gave them his reasoned arguments for more than 90 minutes on why there was no God. Believing he had persuaded the country-folk to his belief he challenged the crowd with this rhetoric question,

"Can anyone give me a reason why a sane person would believe in Christianity?"

          At the back of the lecture hall an elderly man stood up and shouted,

"Because He is Risen!"

The entire crowd stood up and shouted in unison,

"He is Risen, Indeed!"

The old man was drug out and sent to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation, medication and re-educating.




I have received the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC for more than 50 years. In the late 70's the National Geographic sent a photographer on a boat trip down Russia's famed "Volga River." At one point the photographer asked the boat captain to allow him to go ashore to take pictures on a decaying Russian Orthodox Church alongside the River.

          Permission was granted and the photographer was put shore. He was astounded at the decay of a formerly prominent Russian church. Farm animals wandered in and out of the door-less, window-less building. Refuse and animal waste was everywhere.

          But there at the front of the church where the altar formerly stood was a bunch of freshly cut flowers. The photographer took copious pictures and made his report back to the United States. Despite the forty years of Stalinistic Communism, Christianity was alive and well in the Soviet heartland.

          The question for us on this Resurrection morning is,

"If Jesus returned today, would He find our spirits alive and well, or would be entombed in pre-resurrection darkness?"

This sermon explores the ways that pain and injustice and our reaction to it keeps the grave-stones over our hearts. Hope yours was a glorious resurrection celebration.


Pastor Phil   <><<






March 31, 2013 / Easter

Sheepfold Ministries / Rev. Phil Roland


Who'll Roll The Stone?

Mark 16:1-8 - Matthew 28:1-6

"Often we fret and worry about conflicts that don't exist, people and circumstances that trouble us: these things  are like grave  stones God has already rolled away. Remember, God's in Control."           Pastor Phil Roland


"Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?''         Mark 16:2,3 NIV


John 11:41
"Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.



            A. Roman /Jewish authorities made sure Jesus was Dead and Buried

                        1. They killed Him by crucifixion

                        2. Nails were driven through His hands and feet

                        3. On the 6th hour a Roman soldier pierced His heart w/a Spear

                        4. Roman Soldiers were execution experts

            B. His tomb was hewn from solid rock

                        1. It had only one entrance about 5' high

                        2. A large stone was rolled over the Entrance

                                    a. Weighed about 1 1/2 to 2 Tons

                                    b. Weighed as much as a Compact Car

                                    c. Men with Levers were required to move it

            C. Pilate put a Roman guard at the Tomb's entrance - Matt. 27:65-66    
            "Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as                you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the

             stone and setting the guard."

                        1. A Roman Guard Unit was 16 men

                        2. Four Men stood guard in 4-Hour shifts around the clock

                        3. The other 12 were sleeping

                        4. Every 4 hours another shift was awakened

            D. A Roman Seal was a cord stretched across the stone

                        1. Each end of the cord was sealed in a clay seal

                        2. Seal was then given the stamp of Roman power / authority 

                        3. If the seal was broken the guards could be executed



"Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him." Mark 16:1
          A. Three women came to anoint the Body of Jesus

                        1. Egyptians embalmed the body to preserve it



                        2. Jews anointed with perfume to honor the deceased

                                    a. Masked the odor of decomposition

                                    b. Decomposition begins soon after death

            B. The Sabbath was on Saturday and they couldn't anoint then

                        1. The Jewish Sabbath was over at sunrise Sunday morning

                        2. They could touch the dead w/o breaking Sabbath Laws

            C. The women forgot about the Stone and the Roman Seal

            "And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the

             door of the tomb for us?" Mark 16:3
                        1. They were in a distressed grief-ridden state

                        2. They neglected to make arrangements to get in the Tomb

                        3. Yet, the two "Marys" knew about the Stone - Mark 15:47

                        "And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses (Joseph)                                      observed where He was laid."

                        4. They knew Jesus' Body was placed in the Tomb of Joseph                                 of Arimathaea and watched as he had it sealed



"But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away--for it was very large." Mark 16:4
A. They were relieved, the stone was rolled away from the door

                        1. They thought, "Who moved the stone?"

                        2. Was it the young man in white garments?

            B. Matthew says it was an angel of the Lord - Matthew 28:2,3

            "And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord

             descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the

             door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing

             as white as snow."
1. It was God's messenger who did it.

                        2. Jesus did not raise Himself from the grave

                        3. It was the awesome power of God

            C. If God Himself raised Jesus, then Jesus' Promise is good

            "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He

             who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies

             through His Spirit who dwells in you."       Romans 8:11

                        1. Jesus was raised by God's power

                        2. We who die believing in His promise will not see death

                         "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in

                         Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into

                         judgment, but has passed from death into life."             John 5:24



            A. He rolls away your stone of Anxiety

                        1. Perceived threat where no threat exists

                        2. Do not worry - Matt. 6:34

                        "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry

                         about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."



            B. He  rolls away your stone of Depression

                        1. David Suffered from Depression - Psalm 42:5

                        "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted

                         within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of

                         His countenance."

                        2. Elijah was depressed after the Challenges of Mt. Carmel

                        "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came

                         and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die,                           and said, "It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better

                         than my fathers!"      1 Kings 19:4
C. He rolls away your Stone of Anger and Bitterness?

                        1. Produced by rehearsing and brooding over injustices

                        "For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: "In returning

                         and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be

                         your strength." But you would not,"  Isaiah 30:15

                        2. Moses tells His followers at the Red Sea: STAND STILL

                          Exodus 14:14  

                        "The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."

                        3. "Holding  your  peace"  is allowing God's Healing Power to

                           Lift the Anger and Bitterness.

                        4. "Holding  your  peace"  is allowing God to touch your heart

                          when you feel simmering anger over some Injustice

          D. He rolls away your Stone of Failure

                        1. One of four Primal Fears: Public Scorn/Humiliation/Rejection

                        2. Jesus dared to appear a failure by public execution for us

          E. He rolls away your Stone of Fearing Lack (Your needs unmet)

                        1. How much money is enough? - Matt. 6:24-30

                                "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love

                         the  other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

                         You cannot serve both God and Money."    Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
2. God will take care of your tomorrows: Live one day at a time

          F. He rolls away your Stone of Fear of Suffering

                        1. Another Primal Fear/Not promised Pain-Free existence

                        2. He promises to BE WITH US: Matt. 28:20

                        3. "If God will take you to it, He will take you through it"

          G. He rolls away your Stone of the Fear of Death    

                        1. King of Fears: fear of extinction/the fear of being forgotten

                        "Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?"

                         declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the

                         LORD.    Jeremiah 23:24

                        2. JESUS DID IT!! 

                        3. His Resurrection Rolled Away the Stone of Death!





Who'll roll the STONE?

Mark 16:1-8 (NKJV)
1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.
2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
3 And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?"
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away--for it was very large.
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
6 But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
7 But go, tell His disciples--and Peter--that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you."
8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


Matthew 28:1-6
1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.








"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in

             Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in

             Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"     John 11:25-26




General Charles Gordon discovered this tomb in Jerusalem in 1883.

It is near Golgotha, The Place of the Skull.





A. The Importance of the Resurrection of Christ.

1. Fulfilled the promise of Christ to His disciples:

Mt.16:21, "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."

2. The sign given by Jesus of His deity:

John 2:18-22, "Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou does these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said."


1 Co. 15:55-58, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."


Nothing But an Empty Tomb (4)
A Moslem said to a Christian,

"We Moslems have one thing you Christians do not have. When we go to Medina (Saudi Arabia), we find a coffin and know that that Mohammed lived because his body is in it. But when, you Christians go to Jerusalem, you find nothing but an empty tomb."
"Thank you!"
exclaimed the Christian.

"What you say is absolutely true, and that makes the eternal difference. The reason we find an empty tomb is because we serve a risen Christ."



In Chicken Soup for the Soul, Dan Millman tells the story of Sachi. When she was four years old her baby brother was born. Little Sachi began to ask her parents to leave her alone with the new baby. They worried that, like most four-year-olds, she might feel jealous and want to hit or shake him, so they said no.

Over time, though, since Sachi wasn't showing signs of jealousy, they changed their minds and decided to let Sachi have her private conference with the baby. Elated, Sachi went into the baby's room and shut the door, but it opened a crack - enough for her curious parents to peek in and listen. They saw little Sachi walk quietly up to her baby brother, put her face close to his, and say, "Baby, tell me what God feels like. I'mstarting to forget."