A New Boston Massacre

Rev. Mark Buetow

And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?" But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away -- for it was very large. - St. Mark 16:3-4

Here we go again. Bombs. Carnage. Mayhem. Evil. Suffering. Horror. Innocent people killed. It’s a chance for the atheists to shout, “Where’s your loving God now?” It’s a chance for people to say, “Yeah, but look at all the good in people who are helping.” It’s a time for Facebook to be inundated with well wishes, political arguments and conspiracy theories.

The fact of the matter is, this new Boston Massacre is one more stone rolled over the tomb. One more heavy rock that shouts to the world that men are evil and death is real. It is a stone that declares our mortality, our inability to overcome it. Who will roll it away? Who will make the pain stop? Who will make it so these things don’t happen? How will we get in to put spices on our dead God to make Him smell better now that He’s a corpse? What can we say to take away the pain and stench of burned flesh in what was supposed to be a healthy competition and exciting athletic event?

But the stone WAS rolled away when the women arrived. It was laying on the ground. The tomb was open. And it was empty. Well, except for the angels who said, “He is risen! He’s not here! See the place where they laid Him!” The place where they laid Him was a tomb cut into the rock for a dead guy. It was a place of the dead. Like the finish line for the Boston Marathon. A place where death seems to be king. But it’s not. Because the stone is rolled away and Jesus is not there.

If you think the video of the bombs going off in Boston was scary, you should have heard the bomb Jesus dropped on hell. Defeat. Disgrace. Undoing. Sins paid for. The devil’s power done. Where that liar and father of lies would deceive us is in the belief that God doesn’t care about such suffering as we see. We’re on our own. Nothing but misery. So Jesus shows up and tells the devil the deal: His cross means sin is finished. His resurrection means death is done. His Ascension means your righteousness can’t be snatched by that roaring lion.

Let’s put it another way: the answer to horrors and tragedies like the bombing of a marathon is that Jesus is alive. Bombings and all the other suffering we see in the world are like stones that remind us that our destination is a grave. Graves sealed with stones and covered with dirt. But what the women find is the answer to that: death has been defeated. Whatever suffering and death take place out there, they can’t overcome Jesus being alive. He died to overcome sin and His victory over sin means death can’t hold Him down. The stone’s got to go. And it does. And now there’s nothing but good news inside: He is risen!

And that risen Jesus is the one who stands behind your baptism, who proclaims through your preacher, and who gives Himself in His Supper. These are the gifts that confess that the stone has been rolled away. Death has been defeated. The devil is powerless. These aren’t gifts that remove evil from this world. They are gifts that protect you from all things and promise that on the Last Day, the stone on your grave will be rolled away; the dirt covering your casket will be removed. And you will stand, risen and alive and with the Lord forever.

Horrors happen. People ask questions. The investigators will investigate. The relief agencies will relieve. The living will mourn the dead. And when someone asks who can roll away the stone of such a sad thing that points us to death and our mortality, you can answer, “What stone? You mean the one lying on the ground because Jesus is alive?” Indeed, the only thing to say when we see such things is that Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Yes, Easter beats even bombs at the Boston Marathon because Christ is risen indeed.

Rev. Mark Buetow is pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in Du Quoin, IL. He is also the Media Executive for Higher Things.

Created: April 16th, 2013