Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.  (Matthew 28:1 ESV).  It was Sunday morning, and they had “bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.”  (Mark 16:1 ESV).

What were they looking for when they went to the grave early that morning?  A dead body.  That was all.  All they were thinking of was doing the job they were unable to finish on Friday afternoon. 

Indeed, they were so focused on that task that they had even forgotten the stone covering the entrance to the grave.  “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”  (Mark 16:3 ESV), they were asking each other on the way. 

Jesus had told them he would die and rise again, but now he was dead.  They had seen him die, were there when they took Him down from the cross.  And they could think of nothing else than finishing the job – making sure His body was properly prepared for burial. Remember, they don’t know this is the first Easter.  They are not hoping to find the grave empty.  They are not talking about what they will say when they see Jesus.  They thought it was all over except to finish their sad job.

Of course, you and I know the end of the story – God had already sent an angel to move the stone – not to let Jesus out, but to show them He had risen from the dead. But when these women made their way toward the tomb early that morning, all they were expecting was a dead body.

What are you looking for?  Are you looking for something alive or dead?  What do you expect is going to happen?

You have a child who doesn’t seem to “get it.”  Your heart has been broken by a member of your family and you don’t know how to repair the relationship.

You just can’t seem to get over the death of someone close to you.  Your parish is getting more and more restless, and no, it’s not because they are restless to spread the Gospel!

You have preached and taught till you were “blue in the face,” you think, but it’s like no one is listening.  Your confidence is long gone and your worries give you no peace.

Everything looks, well, dead.  From the body in the casket to your hopes and dreams to the blank look on the faces of some of your people. “Who will roll away the stone for us?”

My brothers and sisters, God still moves stones! 

There was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.’”  Matthew 28:2-6 ESV)

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed! 

He still moves the stones of unbelief and death.  He still turns stony hearts in the living hearts of flesh – even yours and mine!  (Ezekiel 36:26).  Jesus is alive to be with us always.  He is our peace.  He is our confidence.  He is our life.

He rolled away the stone of our sin and has made our grave the door to eternal life.  He is alive to give His Spirit – over and over again, even when we can’t see it – whenever His Word is spoken, the waters of Baptism are poured and His body and blood are given.

Now, what are you looking for?  Jesus is alive to enliven our preaching and teaching.  He is alive to restore your confidence and take away your worries.  He is alive to forgive you and help you restore your relationships.  He is alive to reawaken your hopes and dreams – alive to assure us we shall also rise to eternal life.

Yes, God still moves stones.  And the grave is still empty, for Jesus lives! 

A blessed Easter to all!

+Herbert Mueller
First Vice President – LCMS