Author: Vicky Chia, Executive Pastor, Hope Evangelical Free Church, San Francisco
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. (Matthew 27:61-66, NIV)
After Jesus was crucified, he was buried in a tomb. This burial brought finality and should have been the end of the story. However, the Pharisees and Chief Priests still tried to employ human efforts to make sure that Jesus was really put away and He had no more influence on His followers. Therefore, with Pilate’s approval, they secured the tomb by sending guards and putting a seal on the stone. They thought that by doing so, no disciple of Jesus would be able to steal Jesus’ body and lie that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Just as Jesus said, he rose from the dead after three days! He fulfilled his promise to rise in three days and He accomplished this by His own power and not by human effort or human intervention. Even the guards, the huge stone that blocked the opening of the tomb, and the seal on the stone could not hold Jesus in the tomb because He did not belong there. He belonged in Heaven with His Father. Jesus showed to the world that He is a powerful God.
In this passage, we also see a contrast of emotions. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat by the tomb because of their love for Jesus. They followed along with Jesus in His ministry even to the end. The fear that caused the disciples to flee was not found in them. On the other hand, the Pharisees and Chief Priests expressed fear — fear of the Word from Jesus, fear that the disciples would come and steal Jesus’ body, and fear that Jesus would continue to have impact in people’s lives.
When we believe in the Person of Christ and His Words, there is no fear, only love.
The ISAAC 2009 Lenten Devotional, edited by Rev. Dr. Johnson Chiu. This devotional was written by Asian American English ministry leaders and pastors in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. To purchase, click here: Road of Suffering, Road to Glory: A Lenten Adventure with the Savior