Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. "Take away the stone," he said.—John 11:38-39
Religious rocks create barriers in our relationship with God. Notice the "red letter" words in our passage in John 11:39, the four words in this verse that Jesus actually spoke. Take away the stone....
The background for our passage begins in the first verse of chapter 11 of the book of John. Lazarus was sick. As the chapter unfolds we discover that Lazarus eventually died. His sisters Mary and Martha were overcome with shock and grief.
Our message begins at the house of mourning, in a place where we all have found ourselves. If you have not yet visited the house of mourning, it's a place where you will eventually find yourself.
To be human is to be frustrated and confounded with our human limitations. It's our human dilemma. We cannot continue our humanity, our life in this flesh, forever. So here in John 11 God is meeting us in a place of loss and despair.
Mary and Martha are going through the same pain that all humans go through, and have gone through—the shock, heartache and grief at the loss of a loved one. Mary and Martha's Bible, of course, was the Old Testament. The Bible as we know it today was not available to them, and they certainly didn't have individual copies in their homes. Scrolls of the Old Testament, copies of originals, were read in synagogue.