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.
Jesus, I have no doubts that you died. Given the accounts that a man in Galilee with your name existed and that men are generally considered mortal, you died. I believe that Romans killed you with a professional completeness. I do not believe the death was hurried and botched. I believe you died. I believe your spirit departed from your body and that the hydrocarbons that had housed you were left behind. The body was placed in a tomb where it could decompose in peace and the women knew where the body was.
I am a bit perplexed as to how the Pharisees knew that you said you would rise from the dead, assumed that the disciples knew that was the plan, and so were intent on making sure that no-one could steal the body. However, the disciples were amazed at the fact of the resurrection. Did they just believe that you had said you would do the impossible, or did the Pharisees know what you were about better than they did? The writer preempts that your disciples will be accused of deception and so states how such a deception could not happen.
- Who asked for Jesus’ body?
- Why would it be significant that the grave was hitherto unused?
- Why would Matthew want us to know that the grave was secure?
- Do you believe Jesus was a real person from history?
- Do you believe that he rose from a swoon or rose from death?