Matthew 28:11-15

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened.

After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”

So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day. Matthew 28:11-15

So here we go again. Fake news. Cover your tracks. Want to beat a story to the punch? Tell a whopper. The more afraid of the truth you are, the more outrageous your story.

You’re missing a body? From a carefully sealed tomb? Guarded by Roman soldiers? Obviously, a tax collector and a couple of Galilean fishermen must have out-smarted them. Yeah, yeah, that’s what happened.

The priests and the elders were the ones who hatched this plan. Again, this isn’t about their faith. It isn’t about their Jewishness. It is about how people with power will do anything to keep their power. Truth? Justice? Love of neighbor? None of that matters.

Or maybe it does.

Maybe the priests and the elders truly were morally convinced that Jesus represented a real threat to the health and welfare of the people. Maybe they saw in Jesus, not just someone who threatened their privileged positions of spiritual authority, but someone who threatened the physical security of the people in their charge. Maybe none of them wanted to needlessly stir up the Roman tiger.

If so, they might have felt their actions were justified. But they were flat out wrong. History would prove them wrong. Thirty years later their fears would be realized but Jesus would have nothing to do with it. Thirty years later, a serious attempt would be made to kick the Romans out of Jerusalem. It wouldn’t end well. It would be devastating.

Two old sayings come to mind. “The proof is in the pudding.” “Sooner or later, the chickens will come home to roost.”

There is more than one way to appreciate this whole story. We can look at it from the point of view of what it tells us about something that happened a long time ago. Or we can look at it from the point of view of how it gives us insights into human nature. Either road takes us to the same destination – which story will guide our lives?

Let us pray: Lord, you are truth. Your Word is truth. Your way of being in the world is truth. Yet there are so many other voices clamoring for attention, clamoring to be heard, demanding to be obeyed. Keep us centered in the truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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