There will be no resurrection story

March 30, 2024

Matthew 27:62–66 (ESV)

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 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.

Caiaphas has decided. There will be no resurrection story. Apparently someone had been listening when Jesus said it would happen – but that was before yesterday. Now it seems that only the Chief Priest was worried about Jesus’ potential return. And so, he again stands before Pilate begging for a favor. He wants more soldiers, sent to stand guard outside of the tomb, waiting for the disciples to come and steal His body. Pilate, still reeling from the events of the day before, wants none of it, and tells Caiaphas to send the men who keep him safe and seal the stone in place. There is no way that Jesus’ followers will overpower no less that 12 men, and move the one ton stone. It simply will not happen. And so send them he does. The stone is sealed, and the soldiers take their place. Precautions have been made, there will be no resurrection story. 

In truth though, all that work was done in vain. Resurrection was the furthest thing from His disciples minds. Peter has been weeping through the night. Angry and ashamed, he sits and replays the denials in his head. Three separate times he said he didn’t know Him. Three times he had lied. Three times, just as Jesus had predicted. And then he had run. Never mind they all had, Peter was supposed to be the rock. He was supposed to be the one who stood for Jesus when no one else would. But instead he had played a coward, and every roosters crow reminds him of the ways in which he failed Him. 

All eleven of them, scattered and scared, sit playing different scenes and scenarios back in their minds. They had given everything to follow Him, and now He was gone. It had all been a lie, or perhaps worse. Maybe they had fallen for the words of a lunatic – claiming to be God when in fact, He was nothing of the sort. All the stories, made up. All the miracles, some sort of sideshow. Had it all just been some sort of bad and cruel dream? 

One thing they know – yesterday was real – and now He is gone. 

He had tried to warn them. Arrest, guilt, and put to death. He had said those very words. In the moments, they had been too caught up to hear, understand, or believe Him. Perhaps they just hadn’t wanted to. But oh, did they believe Him now. Every last word He had told them, had come to pass – and now they sit, they shudder, and they mourn.

Those who had been close enough to hear, still hear the haunting sounds of His screams. A few had caught a glimpse as He carried His cross through the streets. No more palms. No parades. Only pain. Only John had stood until the end, but in that end, it didn’t matter. He was dead all the same. Now each one of them must face the cruel fate that awaits them, as they return to their families, exposed as frauds. Followers of a phony. 

As the sun goes down and Passover is ending, a few women make plans to go in the morning and finish what they’ve started. Perhaps the guards will roll away the stone and let them in. Even after all of this – He deserves a proper burial. That is what they can give Him now. Death has claimed their king, and there will be no resurrection story. 

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