April 8, 2023
Jesus’ tomb is sealed and guarded
There’s not much written about Holy Saturday. It’s the day after Jesus died on the cross and the day before His resurrection.
Let’s look at what the Book of Matthew says about the day before Jesus’ Resurrection.
“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 27:62-65
I find it interesting that on the day after the day of preparation, on Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath, we see the Pharisees hard at work. The day after Christ’s crucifixion, the Pharisees go to Pilate and ask Him to post guards at the tomb because they are worried that Jesus’ disciples might come and steal the body.
They never once mention that Jesus may rise from the dead. For the Pharisees, that was the talk of a fool who was now dead. No, instead, they’re worried about Jesus’s disciples. For, if they were to steal the body of Jesus, they could keep the ruse of Jesus being the Son of God going.
At this moment in time, the thought of the disciples doing anything is somewhat laughable. Judas had killed himself, Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times, and all the rest of the disciples, except for John, had scattered and hid out of fear.
In hindsight, we know that the Pharisees were worried about the wrong outcome. But they had hard hearts and no faith in Jesus. So you might say, “Boy are they in for a big surprise!”
Pilates reaction to the Pharisee’s request for a guard at Jesus’ tomb is interpreted in two different ways. One is in the reading above, from the NIV version of the Bible. The Pharisees are given a guard to go and secure the tomb.
In the King James Version (Greek Translation), the interpretation of Pilate’s reaction to the Pharisees is quite different. He says:
“Ye have a watch.”
In other words, you have your own men who can do this. Tell some of your temple guards to go and make the tomb as secure as they know how.
(Peoples Bible Commentary, Matthew, G.J. Albrecht and M.J. Albrecht, Pp. 434)
For all the effort put forth by the Pharisees, in the end, they would look despicable and be humiliated. This only forced them to continue to lie and put forth a totally fabricated story. This included paying off the tomb guard and telling a story about how Jesus’ body was stolen. (But this part of the story is for another day)
The high point of our story is tomorrow, the Resurrection of Jesus. But even then, Christ’s story will be far from over.