A SEALED TOMB
Please, Lord, reveal new gems of truth in your Word today so that I might see them clearly and that they may deepen my faith.
Read MATTHEW 27:57–66
The Burial of Jesus
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The Guard at the Tomb
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 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.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Look for new gems of truth in the Word today so that you might see them clearly and they may deepen your faith.
It probably suited both the Romans and the Jewish leaders to hand Jesus’ body to Joseph of Arimathea. For the Romans, it avoided leaving a decaying corpse to be eaten by animals. For the Jewish leaders, the Passover was not overshadowed by a hanging crucifixion victim. Being rich, Joseph probably had some status but, more importantly, he had a tomb. Not far from the place of execution, it seems to have been newly hewn out of the rock. Tombs were expensive, so it was generous of Joseph to provide his for Jesus. He did not know that he would soon get his tomb back!
Matthew details that the tomb was very thoroughly closed up. Joseph himself rolled the massive stone into the groove in front of the opening. Once sunk in, the stone could not be rolled back by one person alone. Then, at the request of the chief priests, Pilate made it doubly secure. In sealing it with rope and wax at either side of the entrance, the soldiers ensured that no one could tamper with it. Posting a guard was the final security; the body, imprisoned inside, could not be removed. No one would spread false rumors of resurrection.
Every age has had its theories about the body and the tomb. Some people today suggest that Jesus wasn’t really dead, but was later rescued. Yet no one there had any doubt that Jesus was dead. He had been flogged, tortured, impaled, hung for hours, and speared. What his enemies feared was either disciples snatching his corpse, or that a miracle might really happen. The wonderful thing for us is that they took such care to keep the body in, ruling out all normal possibilities of exit. We are left with the knowledge that God’s miraculous power is the best explanation for what happened next.
Frank Morison’s classic book Who Moved the Stone?1 resulted from an attempt to disprove the resurrection. It is a wonderful read for every generation.
Dear Lord, help me as I learn what it means to take up my cross and follow you.
1 Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone?, Faber and Faber, 1930
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