Oudoom gives the same Easter Sunday Sermon every year. He’d read the passage in Mark 16, and remind them of the young man in robes who waited for the disciples in the open cave where they had buried Jesus.
Now, who was this young man, and where did he come from. What was his name? Why was he there? We dont’t know. Mark doesn’t tell us he was an angel – he describes him as human and gives him a human voice. What is important about Mark’s account – it occurs in the other gospels as well – was that the stone was rolled away for them to see the young man.
Let us consider these events for a while. The young man mentioned by Mark, waited for Mary and Salome. He had a message for them. These women would go down in history as the ones who were the first to be convinced about the Resurrection.
Would it have been accomplished, if the stone in front of the grave was still there; in its place? No! Jesus didn’t need the stone rolled away to get out…we later hear the gospels telling us that He could walk through walls. He needed the stone rolled away so that his Mother and Salome would witness His absence. The very fact that He left had to be retold – like we do today – to convince the world that He had risen from the dead.
The rolled- away stone was the revelation of His Resurrection. Had the stone been in place, they wouldn’t have been any wiser.
So, think about stones for a while. We read about hearts of stone. The Ten Commandments were written on stone. There are accounts of the most important stone being rejected by the builders. A father will not give his child a stone instead of bread. Stones, in the Bible, are stumbling blocks. We stumble over Gods commandments, because we are unfaithful and we want proof. We hesitate when we have to cement in the most important stone in our temple; and when God gives us bread, we often think about it as stone, because we don’t understand the reason for hardship.
But here, we read that the stone has been rolled away, revealing the Resurrection. This is what you all have to experience to understand the grace of God. The Resurrection is the revelation of God’s grace – but we have to remove the obstacles that prevent us from seeing it.
Initially, Gertruida had to spend considerable time on Boggel’s veranda to explain the sermon. Kleinpiet remembered the stone that punctured a wheel. Vetfaan said something about a detour he had to make around a huge rock in the way of his route to the farm. Precilla said not all rocks are bad, because it was a quarry that was responsible for the origin of Rolbos. Boggel reminded them of the rocks they carted in to lay the foundation of the church.
“Yes, that’s all very true and great and all that. But then there is the stone we place on every grave. Maybe it says something about the deceased – that they wanted to take their stoneswith them? That they couldn’t face life – or death – without a stone?” Servaas is always the last to understand.
And every year, after Oudoom spoke, they would talk about stones and how they’ve made them important parts of their lives. When the rooibos tea is finished, they’ll sit quietly as they contemplate the revalation of the absent stone.
And every one of them – without exception – will wish that young man will come and help them move some rocks. Sometimes they think they’ll be scared by what they see, just like Mary and Salome were. And sometimes they’d wish the stone would continue to hide the truth, because they fear the change it’ll bring about. But mostly, when Oudoom walks back to the pastorie, they’ll get up respectfully to thank him for the message.
And, verily, they’d see tears in the eyes of the old man as they shake his hand, because Oudoom knows their stones have been rolled away such a long time ago. They’re just too afraid to go and have a look, that’s all.
That’s why he’ll give that same sermon on every Easter Sunday … until they get it.