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Stones

STONES…come from larger rocks. When we were in Israel, I was astonished at the number of stones everywhere. All across the Middle East we watch people demonstrating in the streets tossing stones at police. I guess that’s what one does when the government bans private ownership of guns and leaves only the bad guys and the government with legal weapons. Or maybe it is just a show of disdain and a carryover from centuries of stoning as a penalty for certain crimes. Jewish law included this form of punishment, especially for blasphemy.

 

Stones have been used since the beginning of time to build structures. While in Scotland I observed that this was the primary choice for exterior building materials. Young boys have always had an infatuation with them. Skipping smooth round stones across a body of water is great fun. We are familiar with the expression about something being nearby–“just a stone’s throw away.” The most infamous stone is the one young David used to slay the Philistine giant. I wonder what it would bring at a Sotheby’s auction today?

 

During Easter week I was reminded several times of the stone that had been cut out of rock and use to seal the tomb of Jesus. Joanne and I were privileged to be in Jerusalem and inspect the possible tomb where they laid Him. Outside the tomb nearby was a large chiseled stone that would have been used for enclosing the opening. Its cylindrical shape made it easy to roll.

 

Jesus had a dialogue with the disciples earlier in the week before His death. ‘Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” ‘And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down”‘ (Mk. 13:1,2). They were confused about what lay ahead for Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 and AD 135.

 

Another conversation with the Jewish leaders took place outside the temple after Jesus had wreaked havoc inside by chasing off the moneychangers. They asked for a sign to show by what authority He was able to do these things. ‘Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “it has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body'” (Jn. 2:19-21).

 

God showed me this week a new image of what took place at the tomb. Jesus 

had earlier said to Martha that He was the Resurrection and the life after having raised Lazarus from the grave. They rolled away the stone so he could come out to restored life. In Ezekiel 11:19 it is recorded:
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” Jesus’ resurrection accomplished this for Israel and now us.

Jesus, the man, was lying dead in the tomb, sealed by the stone. Just as in the case of Lazarus, the stone had to be rolled away (by God’s angels); removed so that His new, resurrected life could come forth. And come forth it did, conquering death once and for all. For us to receive this eternal life the stone must be removed from our heart. As long as our heart of stone remains in place, we cannot experience this new life in Him. Christ is offering us a heart of flesh, one that can live and serve and worship–now and forever!

 

Galatians 2:20 reflects what has happened to us that have had the stone rolled away from our rebellious hearts. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We were dead in our transgressions, buried in an eternal tomb, separated from God. Our new life burst forth from the grave, in Him! But only after the stone was removed.  

What should those of us who have experienced new birth do once outside our tomb?  Breathe fresh air, fill our lungs, raise our hands, do a little shouting and leaping. Tell somebody and then someone else. We should be rejoicing, making a fool of ourselves over this transformation. Sing a song (out loud)–try this one for starters!

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

that saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost but now I’m found,

was blind but now I see.” 

 

You’ll feel a whole lot better and others might join in. I know the angels will!

 

Copyright 2014

Bill C. Dotson

www.lifespeaakstous.com

bill@abidingfathers.org

Scriptures taken from the New King James Version and the New International Version.

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