Bible Insights

Returning to the Tomb

Who Will Roll Away the Stone?

Today’s passage: John 20:1, along with Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1–3, and Luke 24:1

Focus verse: Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. (John 20:1)

With the Sabbath over, Mary Magdalene can again do manual labor. She returns to Jesus’s tomb, intending to anoint his body.

She and the other Mary prepared spices before the Sabbath, rested on the Sabbath, and now she’s ready to complete her work on the first day of the week.

Mark gives us the most detail about what happens.

He writes that besides Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James (possibly also called the other Mary) and Salome go with her. It’s early in the day, with the sun having just risen.

As the trio makes their way to the tomb, a critical concern occurs to them. “Who will roll away the stone from the tomb?”

Who indeed.

Just two days earlier, the women stood there watching Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus place Jesus’s body in the tomb and roll a large stone in front of the entrance.

Did the women forget this important detail until this moment? Or did they realize it and decide to keep their concern to themselves? Perhaps each one hopes one of the other two has a plan to remove this obstacle.

But the three of them are no match for this massive stone. They won’t be able to move it by themselves. Unless someone else does this for them, they cannot complete their mission. This would make their preparations and journey in vain.

Despite not knowing what they’ll do, however, they press forward.

Do they expect to find someone there to help them? Do they pray God will provide a solution to their dilemma? Might they have a backup plan if they can’t get to Jesus’s body this morning?

Whatever the case, they proceed. What other choice do they have? They can’t quit. Jesus deserves better.


  • When have we planned something without considering the obstacles we would face?
  • How do we react when we find a stone blocking our path?

Prayer: Father God, when we face obstacles on the path you give us, fill us with the needed courage—and the faith—to persist.

Celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and his return to heaven in The Victory of Jesus. The Victory of Jesus is another book in Peter DeHaan’s beloved Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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