[#pictureLent] Easter Sunday March 27: RAISED

By Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park UMC
Tampa, FL

First, read Luke 24:1-7

The ancient Greeks often told a story about Sisyphus, a mortal who fell out of favor with Zeus, king of the gods. As punishment for angering Zeus, Sisyphus was condemned to the Underworld, with one and only one task to accomplish for all eternity-- to push a gigantic rock, up and over a hill.  

As the story goes, Sisyphus tried for the first time to push the rock up the hill.  He started at the base of the mountain, trying with all his might to move it up the steep slope.  He succeeded at getting it near the top, almost over the hill, but fatigue and the weight of the rock and the pull of gravity caused the rock to tumble back to the base of the hill. 

This same scene unfolded every day; ever since and up until now, he is still trying.  

This Greek myth resonates with an important truth of the human experience.  All of us are like Sisyphus.  We wake up every morning at the base of the day’s mountain, knowing full well all the gigantic boulders that we will be pushing and lifting before day’s end.  

We carry heavy tasks, and we are encumbered by enormous physical, mental, and emotional burdens. We strive with all our might to make things work, to make ends meet, to get over the hump.  And like Sisyphus, the moment we get close is the moment things fall apart.  Gravity becomes greater than our strength.  Our rock tumbles down to earth.

It is the same kind of defeated feeling that must have been shared by the women in today’s Easter story. This Jesus, who had touched all their lives, was now dead and buried.  They had heard the eyewitness accounts.  They knew the events of the trial.  They had not stopped crying since the earthquake and the darkness.  This Jesus, who was their friend, their teacher, their spiritual leader, was gone.

There anguish was symbolized in a stone. Another gospel has these women ask the question:  “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”  

They were struggling with what to do with the crushing weight of grief and despair that had taken over their hearts.  The reality of death had set into their hearts and formed a sense of utter defeat within their lives.  And it is therefore reasonable for you to answer the question, “What are the stones that are blocking your pathway to a free and full life?”  What gigantic boulders to you get up every morning to push?  What is causing you a feeling of utter defeat?  Your list may be long, and chief among them may be the reality of your own mortality. 

But listen again to what happens in Luke 24:2. “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.”

God had rolled away the stone!  Not just the stone that blocked the entrance to the cave, but the stone that blocks the freedom of human hearts.  A stone that humans could not budge with their own efforts and their own accord.  With more strength than Sisyphus could muster, God took the weight of the world’s rock, pushed it up that hill, picked it up, and drop-kicked it into eternity!

God did it for the women long ago, and God does it for us.

Whatever you are facing today, whatever gigantic obstacles you face from day to day, remember this, with certainty in your spirit and clarity in your voice, with hope in your eyes and power in your witness, that God has rolled away the stone. 

Prayer: God of Hope and Resurrection, thank you for raising Jesus from the dead, and for removing the stones that have blocked the free flow of your grace in and through my heart. Help me to experience the transformative power of the resurrection in my life, that I might trust you, follow you, and bring you honor and praise. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. How do you relate to the story of Sisyphus? What stones have you been trying push in your life on a regular basis?

2. What evidence can you see that God has been working in your life all along?

3. What difference will the resurrection make in your life, in your attitude, your perspective, and your behavior?