The Great Cover Up

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:62-66)

“The amazing care they then took to secure the tomb: ‘They sealed the stone’. However, because they did not trust that very much, they set a watch to keep his disciples from coming to steal him away. This was their intention, but God brought this good out of it: those who were set to oppose his resurrection had an opportunity to see it, and they did so, telling the chief priests what they saw. To guard the sepulcher against the poor, weak disciples was foolish, because it was unnecessary, but to think they could protect it against the power of God was also foolish, because it was useless, and yet they thought they were dealing shrewdly.” -Matthew Henry
Isn’t it interesting that the unbelieving remembered Jesus’ prediction stating He would rise again after three days while His closest companions seemed to forget that prophecy? The Resurrection was something these religious leaders greatly feared and they did what they humanly could to defeat the predictions. What were they thinking? They supposed they could keep Jesus in the grave with their seals and their guards? Man never manipulates or overpowers God‘s plans or purposes. Psalm 2 comes to mind:

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One … The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the LORD scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. (Psalm 2:1-2; 4-6; 10-11)

To be sure, their resurrection fears were well founded. After our Lord’s ascension, when the disciples actually were preaching the resurrection, thousands came to a saving knowledge of Jesus, to the great dismay of the religious leaders. We see in Acts:

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. (Acts 4:1-4)

Make no mistake about it, these men certainly did not believe in the Lord Jesus or His testimony, yet they were convinced that His followers would come and steal His body, making what they termed a “deception” worse for them by “fabricating a resurrection lie.”

Man never manipulates or overpowers God‘s plans or purposes.
The resurrection of Jesus, of course, would demonstrate the truthfulness of Jesus’ identity and message as well as the power of God.

It was now the Sabbath day. Instead of finding the religious leaders in devotion, asking for pardon of sins from their past week’s transgressions, we see them laboring to defeat the prediction of Christ’s resurrection, busily petitioning Pilate to secure the tomb. Isn’t it strange how people can become so distorted in their thinking and ways? Christ’s mutilated body has been laid in a borrowed tomb and now they have requested the higher ups to have it sealed and guarded. Even though they had accomplished this mission of having Jesus eliminated, they remained fearful!

When we lose sight of God’s true purposes, we become blind to His truth.

Take It to Heart

“You know to what extent You have already changed me, You who first healed me of the lust of vindicating myself, so that You might forgive all my remaining iniquities, and heal my diseases, and redeem my life from corruption, and crown me with loving-kindness and tender mercies, and satisfy my desire with good things.” (St. Augustine)

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