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.
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.
When Dead Is Dead
Although Jesus’ disciples were somehwhat baffled and depressed about Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, the authorities were aware that people thought he might rise again. If the body was snatched from the tomb, false rumours of Jesus’ resurrection would circulate. The chief priests did circulate a rumour that Jesus’ body had been snatched after the resurrection. Like all great schemers they had a number of ways to adapt in order to deny the truth.
There were witnesses to the death and witnesses to the burial of Jesus. He was killed by people who killed people for a living. He was guarded by people who would have been executed if the body was removed. Jesus’ grave was sealed shut. In normal life there was ‘closure’. It was now time for disciples to count their losses and plan for a return into the fishing, tax or other trades because the hopes that they had in their rabbi were dashed.
People who don’t want to believe that Jesus was dead deny the evidence of scripture. God allows them to think zealous fools wrote fiction for the masses. However, if this is the account of a true witness and his investigations. Jesus was dead and securely buried. That is important. Without death there is no resurrection.
- Matthew 27:57-65 describes the tomb. How would you describe Jesus’ final resting place the days after he died?
- Why are two women looking on an odd thing for a Jewish first-century writer to include?
- Why did the Jewish leaders understand Jesus’ meaning about rising from the dead better than his disciples?
- How certain are you that Christ was dead at this point?
- Have you ‘died’ as completely as Jesus in a spiritual sense so that you can be raised to new life?