Read Matthew 27:62-66
So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Matthew 27:66
Gospel writers Mark, Luke, and John, in their account of Jesus’ death and resurrection, skip from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. We do not know what Jesus’ disciples and devout followers were doing on that Sabbath, even though we can assume they were in deep mourning. Matthew is the only Gospel writer who records any type of event on that Sabbath; however, his focus was not on what Jesus’ followers were doing but rather what the priests and the Pharisees were up to. Ironically, the priests and Pharisees, who were adamant about not working on the Sabbath, were working hard this particular Sabbath to ensure the protection of Jesus’ tomb. Though they referred to Jesus as an imposter, they remembered Jesus said that in three days he would rise, a saying that not even his disciples seemed to remember. So they told Pilate they were afraid his disciples were going to steal his body in an attempt to say Jesus rose from the dead. They then said that if that happened, it would be a greater fraud than the first, the first fraud referring to the claim Jesus made that he was the Son of God.
However, by the Jewish leaders securing the tomb with guards, a rope and a wax seal,* they actually gave more credence to Jesus’ resurrection. Since there was no way for the disciples to steal his body, Jesus’ resurrection had even greater credibility. Had the Jewish leaders simply left the tomb alone, Jesus’ resurrection could perhaps have been subjected to doubts and queries as to if the disciples had stolen his body. However, thanks to the Jewish leaders, rather than his resurrection being a scam, it was an undeniable reality. Instead of being indicted as a fraud, Jesus was acquitted by his resurrection. Instead of being an imposter, Jesus was exactly who he said he was. The Pharisees and priests were trying with all their human power to stop Jesus from doing what he said he was going to do, but instead their weak human attempts displayed even more so God’s power.
If we jump to after Jesus’ resurrection in Matthew 28, we read that the guards, who were standing at the tomb, reported what had happened to the chief priests. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they (the chief priests) gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, ‘Tell people, his disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.”
Have you ever found yourself doubting in Jesus’ resurrection? Are you struggling with the reliability of Scripture? Are you doubting the power of God in your life? If nothing else, this passage confirms that nothing can thwart the plan of God and that what he says he will do, he will do. May this passage strengthen your faith in God, your faith in his power, and your belief in Jesus’ resurrection.
This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Acts 2:22
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Colossians 2:8-10
*See Frank E. Gaebelein, ed, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 8, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 586.