Make it as secure as you can,” Pilate says and assigns a
guard of soldiers to work with the chief priests and the
Pharisees. Matthew is the only Gospel writer to include these
details. It is Saturday, and the religious leaders remain anxious.
The public execution of Jesus had taken place the day before,
and the matter seems to be settled—finally. The disciples have
scattered and are nowhere to be seen.
Saturday is quiet, but here come the Pharisees again:
“Remember how he said he was going to rise again? Well, sir,
if you don’t keep an eye on his disciples, they’ll steal his body
and then go around talking about a resurrection; and it’ll get a
whole lot worse around here, if you don’t mind us saying so.
Why don’t you assign a guard to the tomb to be sure nothing
Frightened people want to make sure nobody shakes things
up. The chief priests and Pharisees say they’re afraid someone
will steal the body. Maybe they fear something else altogether.
What if the prediction actually happens? What if Jesus got up
and walked out of that tomb? If that happens, nothing will be
the same again. If that happens, they have to view the world in
a new light, and that prospect is nothing short of terrifying. So
let’s maintain the status quo.
“Make it as secure as you can,” Pilate tells the guard, the
chief priests, and the Pharisees. They head off to the tomb with
what has to be the easiest assignment in history—make sure a
dead man stays dead.
But how do soldiers secure the world against a miracle?
God, you are the one who makes all things new. Save us from our fear of change and uncertainty. Open our eyes, and remind us that with you, nothing is impossible. Amen.
It is not appropriate to conclude that God disappears at the cross and only emerges again in the event of Easter. Christian proclamation of the cross begins with the understanding that even in Jesus’ utter abandonment, God was present. The Holy Week/Easter texts bring together the common themes of death’s reality, the powerful intrusion of the delivering God, and the manifold responses to resurrection. Paul argues that the gospel looks to many like nothing more than weakness and folly. The cross symbolizes defeat but is in reality the instrument of power and salvation. Isaiah 50:4-9a recalls the hostility that follows upon servanthood. A moment of acceptance, even welcome, will not hide from the servant the fact of the rejection to come. John 20 honestly faces the reality of death. Paul asserts in First Corinthians that the cross of Jesus Christ reveals the power of God.
• Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. When have you faced a task with your face set like int? How did your resolve impact the outcome of your work?
• Read Matthew 27:57-66. When have you attempted to seal Jesus in a tomb? When have you felt anxious or fearful about the change Jesus might bring in your life?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. In what ways have you discovered the Cross to be God’s wisdom for you?
• Read John 20:1-18. How does Jesus’ resurrection signal new life to you? What comes to you “green and fresh” today?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.