Their hardness of heart continued even after His death. Even after the spectacle on Calvary was over and the crowds were gone they were not done with trying to write the script. The Pharisees gather before the Roman governor and warn him of a possible conspiracy (after all paranoia’s just smart thinking when everyone’s against you). A plot they fear will be conceived by eleven spirit-broken, soul-crushed men. A plot to steal the lifeless body of Jesus from where He was buried.
“Order the tomb to be made secure until the third day,” they tell Pilate, “lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead'” (Matt. 27:62-64).
Self-serving. Self-protecting. Even after His death.
What did they fear? Deep down did they fear that perhaps, just perhaps, He might actually rise from the dead? Did they rerun the many signs and wonders He had performed over the past three years? Did they think again of Lazarus–dead and buried for four days and then called back to life simply by Jesus’ command (oh yeah, they remember, we need to kill Lazarus too)?
Or were they truly dead as a spiritual door nail? So enveloped in darkness and so focused on their own interests that they just wanted to take whatever precautions were necessary to ensure they maintained their position?
I don’t know exactly what was running through their minds, but whatever it was they wanted the tomb protected. So they went to Pilate to ask for a Roman guard. An elite commando team of four to sixteen soldiers trained to stand their ground and repel the greatest of enemy forces . . . even if that enemy force were dejected, depressed, and dispersed followers of Christ.
Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
(Matthew 27:65-66 ESV)
“Go, make it as secure as you can.” That’s the phrase that caught my eye and my imagination this morning.
I wonder, was there a bit of sarcasm in Pilates voice? Could he have been thinking, “Really? You’re worried about that rag-tag group of followers stealing Jesus’ body? Fishermen, tax collectors, and other uneducated no-names? That’s the band of conspirators you’re worried about? Go ahead play out your paranoia and take a guard.”
Or perhaps, in light of the encounter Pilate had himself with Jesus, he thinks, “Really? You think a band of men–no matter how many or how well trained–will be able to stand in the way of what God’s program is for the Christ? If Jesus is God’s anointed, do you truly think that any army could secure that tomb and prevent God from doing whatever God intends to do? But go, make it as secure as you can.”
And so they sealed the tomb. And so they set a guard in front of the large rock covering the entrance of where they laid Jesus body. And they made it as secure as they could.
But guess what? Not secure enough. Sunday’s a comin’ . . . .
Who’s getting ready to celebrate?
By His grace . . . for His glory.