April 2020 Beacon
“He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”
In Matthew 27, we can read about many topics: Jesus Being Delivered to Pilate; Jesus Being Mocked; The Crucifixion, Death, and Burial of Jesus. And at the end of the chapter we come to this topic: The Guard at the Tomb.
The chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Out of respect, they referred to Pilate as, “Sir.” (The term they used for Jesus was, “imposter!”) They then recounted how Jesus had said, “After three days I will rise.” This group of government sycophants wanted to make sure that the dead “imposter” remained in the grave. Their hope was that Pilate would issue an order for more security. They worried that the disciples of Jesus might try to steal the body, and then they could claim that Jesus rose from death when He really had not!
Pilate must have thought this was a good idea, because he gave them the go-ahead to make the tomb as secure as they could. The stone that covered the entrance to the tomb was sealed and a guard was put in place. Now they could all sleep without worrying over a potentially missing body! You know what happened next. (I hope you do.)
I was recently at a restaurant (before the stay-at-home order). We were talking about a vacation someone had taken down in Texas. Just then, our young server came by. Just for fun, I asked her if she knew what the Alamo was. When that got nowhere, I asked if she knew who Davy Crockett was. She had no idea what I was talking about. That was the end of that conversation, but I could have asked next if she knew about the resurrection. I wonder if many people have any clue about this.
The next chapter, Matthew 28, begins with women at Jesus’ tomb, a great earthquake, and an angel from heaven rolling back the stone and sitting on it. The angel looked like a white-as-snow bolt of lightning! The guards were overcome just looking at him. The angel confirmed the resurrection of Jesus and directed the women to tell His disciples about it. Fear and joy compelled their journey to tell the others. And what a joyous surprise – along the way, they encountered the risen Lord and fell at His feet in worship!
Were the guards equally overjoyed? Were their hearts changed by the miraculous events that surrounded them? What would it take to affect their belief system? When they reported to the religious leaders what had happened, they were bribed! They were to spread the false report that Jesus’ disciples had stolen Him away. Verse 15 says, “So they took the money and did as they were directed.”
What does it take for unbelievers to put their faith in Jesus Christ today? What if a strange virus had a world-wide effect on the populace? Would that be enough for hard hearts to soften? Pray for people to consider the purpose of their life on earth and to ask what their eternal destiny will be. May the miraculous resurrection of our Lord capture the hearts and minds of those who need Him.