Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated there, facing the tomb. The next day, which followed the preparation day, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that while this deceiver was still alive He said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come, steal Him, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ Then the last deception will be worse than the first.”
“You have a guard of soldiers,” Pilate told them. “Go and make it as secure as you know how.” Then they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Now Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were watching where He was placed.
The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed along and observed the tomb and how His body was placed. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Then they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Reading this passage makes me feel the same way I did when I was a kid, lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, on the night before Christmas.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Butterflies in the stomach. Wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. Listening for any movement in the dark house. Imagining what a great day tomorrow will be. Knowing the surprises in store.
I generally want to skim over this part. I want to sprint into the moment they discovered the empty tomb. Because that’s the good news! Who wants to wade around in the moments between Jesus’ death and resurrection? Not me.
But we have to study every detail of Scripture. We have to give it a chance. It’s there to instruct us. So let’s slow it down and steadily marathon our way through this. And let’s start off by addressing the Pharisees and chief priests in Matthew 27:62-66.
On the day they approached Pilate, they should’ve been doing their devotions, asking for forgiveness of sins from the past week. But instead, they were pleading with a Roman official to add to their rebellion.
They approached Pilate as “Sir” and continued to call Christ a “deceiver.” Matthew Henry wrote, “Thus, the most malicious slanderers of good men are commonly the most sordid flatterers of great men.” Ouch. Did that hurt, fellas? Hope so. Truth hurts.
You see, even after they’d murdered Him, these guys were afraid of Jesus, scared He’d actually do what He said He would and rise from the dead (see Matthew 27:63). They wanted to bury His name and memory. They wanted the “Jesus Movement” to go away for good.
They knew if Christ were to actually come back to life and walk out of that tomb, the whole world would come undone. Everything in life and the hearts of men would look different. Nothing would ever be the same again. Their reign would be over.
All throughout history, men have tried to slander Jesus’ name, muffle His voice, cover His presence, shut Him down, discredit Him, keep Him underground—just like the Pharisees and chief priests tried to do. Times haven’t changed. People still do it.
But today’s passage is a good reminder of the truth when times look bad. No grave can hold Him down. No stone can separate Him from life. Regardless of the schemes of man, His plans will always play out. That’s exceptionally good news for Christ-followers.
I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I can’t help myself. Let’s go ahead and get to the good part—He’s alive!
- Reread today’s passages. In this in-between scene from the crucifixion to the resurrection, what do you think the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us?
- Think about both Mary’s who followed the details of this scenario. Take a look in the back of your Bible and look them up. Find out more about who they are—especially Mary Magdalene. Why would she go to these extremes to follow Jesus’ body?
- Are there people you know who have tried to drown out the name and story of Jesus, of what He did for us? Would you commit to pray for them and ask God to change their hearts so they can see the truth?