Matthew 27:62-66

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would 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 with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. Matthew 27:62-66

Put yourself into the shoes of the chief priests and the Pharisees. Imagine their mindsets as Jesus was led away to the cross, as he suffered and died. They did it! They got rid of the rabble rousing troublemaker. The thorn in their side.

As far as I’m concerned, by the way, this has absolutely nothing to do with their being Jewish! This wasn’t at all about differences in interpretation of their faith and their sense of what God was up to through God’s laws. Jesus didn’t invent “love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus wasn’t the first to call people to treat strangers with hospitality and inclusion. Jesus wasn’t the first to recognize that God could be up to good through people who played on a different religious team.

It wasn’t about being “Jewish” that drove the chief priests and Pharisees to do what they did to Jesus – it was only about their being chief priests and Pharisees! It was about their personal power, prestige, and positions. It was about protecting their place. So they used their power to rid themselves of a truth-speaker who wasn’t afraid to say that the emperor has no clothes.

So yes, maybe they felt relieved. Maybe they felt the exhilaration of winning. But they also knew, at some place in their hearts, that they had done something horribly out of character of their faith. And, because of that, they felt fear.

What do powerful people do when they feel fear! They use their power to protect themselves. When all that matters is power and getting your way you are willing to do and say anything to keep that power and get your way. What do you do if you don’t like reality? Make up a story. If anyone else tells a different story, call their story “fake news.” Gaslight everyone around you. Deny. Deny. Deny.

You don’t like the message? Attack the messenger! Attack! Attack! Attack! The best defense is a good offense – so get as offensive, as outlandish, as crude and rude and vile as possible.

The “bad guys” in the Jesus story weren’t the first to do such things, nor would they be the last. We’ll all capable of such self-justification. This is the natural result of the unnatural effects of sin. So is our attempts to cover our tracks, to hide the evidence. Of course they called for Jesus’ tomb to be sealed and well-guarded. We’ll see next week how that worked out for them.

Let us pray: Lord, you have given us your story. You have entrusted to us the good news that evil could not win the ultimate battle, that death could not hold you, and that love cannot be locked away. May we tell your story, not only with our words, but with our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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