Stones. They’re solid, yet of different densities, come in a variety of sizes from the small that a child might skip across the water to the immense that were used for the construction of gigantic monuments such as the Great Pyramid. They have been used for millennia as a basic building block in cultures throughout the world.
They have also been utilized as weapons of war that span the gamut of projectiles such as King David used to slay the Philistine giant, Goliath, to the missiles that were hurled by siege weapons against city walls.
And they were and, unfortunately, still are used by cultures as means of executing judgment against perceived law-breakers.
Jesus knew of and experienced many of these first-hand. You’ll recall how his incensed countrymen tried to stone him, or to stone the woman caught in adultery. Or how—referring to his body—he declared that he would rebuild the temple if every stone were cast down. Or the great stone that was removed from his own sepulchre when he arose from the dead.
But it’s the stone which covered the grave where Jesus’ friend Lazarus had been buried that I’ve been thinking about recently (John 11:38-39). In particular, the Master’s command to the onlookers just before he raised Lazarus from the grave.
Take ye away the stone. (John 11:38)
Jesus’ command was imperative and imbued with the authority of the Christ. Remember, these people were mourners and had utterly and completely believed that Lazarus was stone-cold dead. Yet the authority of that command resounded in their thought causing them to immediately remove this large object that blocked access to the burial cave where Lazarus lay. They may have been perplexed, but they no doubt were also expecting to see something unusual take place. Whether they thought that Jesus would be able to raise his friend or not, who can say? But their previous mental state had been jarred into obedience.
There are times when mortal mind needs to be startled in order for us to be awakened and obedient to the truth that sets us free. Mary Baker Eddy related to a member of her household, Lida Fitzpatrick, about a case in which it was necessary to speak firmly to a girl whose doctors had declared was dying of a lung disease. Mrs. Eddy said “The girl got up and was well; never even coughed again. …I speak sharply sometimes, but thought must move.” (Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer, Amplified Edition, p. 93)
Perhaps, you feel that you’re living in a cave of darkness with an obstruction that would prevent you from walking out into the light. The situation may seem hopeless. Maybe it’s a disease, or some claim of heredity. Perhaps it’s a sense of an overwhelming limitation to your activities, your career, your relationships and emotions, or even in your sense of spiritual progress. Or maybe it’s the sense of an inevitable decline that accompanies the thought of aging—a claim that has become so prevalent and expected in our society.
But there is hope! Just as Jesus and Mrs. Eddy demonstrated, we each are endowed with the God-bestowed ability to break free—to heal ourselves and others. Eddy wrote:
Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man. (Science and Health, p. 393)
It’s that rising in the strength of Spirit—knowing full-well that it’s not our own strength, but the strength of Almighty God and the authority of the Christ—that enables us to command the stone to be taken away—to move thought and awaken from the mortal dream of limitation into the ever-present light of Life.