Mark 16:3

They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

there is always one more thing
usually its something small
and we can work around it

every once in a while its big
huger than we ever imagined
that takes more than we have

before we can close the door
on all that has come our way
we need to open it again

we’ve got what we need out here
but how in the world will we
ever complete our closure out here

It is not unusual for us to get so caught up with intentions that we miss some critical piece of information. The women have been focused on the incomplete burial they witnessed and thinking about making it through Sabbath to bring spices and complete the burial with an anointing.

They hustle to purchase the spices in the dark after Sabbath. They hurry on their way at sunrise.

As they draw near to the tomb it dawns that there is an impediment—that stone rolled over the entrance. Where are James and Joses when you need them? They help to identify Mary as Jesus’ mother, but they are not close enough to help move a stone. Their absence reminds us that all the male disciples, having run away, are also not available.

If we take a step back, we can see that Mark is using the stone as a signifier of death. It is not just Pilate and a centurion who authenticate Jesus’ death. Creation itself testifies that dead is dead. This is a stone that cannot be removed.

The stone is mentioned 4 times in 5 verses. LaVerdiere2320 picks up on Mark’s penchant for emphasis through repetition:

Mark underlined its importance. In this part, Mark’s story is not so much about the empty tomb as about the rolling away of the stone.

The symbol of the stone is connected not with Jesus’ resurrection but with his burial. The stone was not rolled against the exit from the tomb but against the entrance to the tomb.

The blocking of the entrance was not just about hindering the bringing of spices, which would be a cultural/cultic confirmation of death.  The stone would also keep out a disciple-come-lately who, at the last minute, might have tried to literally follow and be buried with Jesus as a way to force their way into rising.

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