"Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 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."
– Matthew 27:59-60 (NIV)
The effort to kill the mortal body of Jesus Christ had been successful by all earthly standards. Many witnessed the scourging, the beatings, and the inevitable crucifixion of an innocent man. Even as God looked away, and the sky darkening in midday, those who would see Jesus killed were unhindered in their pursuit of His demise. So, His bruised and battered body was removed from the cross and placed in a borrowed tomb. The Son of God, who in life had no place to lay His head, was, in death, laid to rest in a borrowed grave. The stone was rolled into place, and it was finished.
Consequently, there were a few who were still concerned...
"The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said,
‘After three days I will rise again.’ 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.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”
So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard."
– Matthew 27:62-66 (NIV)
The religious elite of the day were concerned about the previous words of Jesus Christ. They had heard Him say that He would rise from the grave after three days, and they remembered these words of prophecy. And so a guard was posted and a seal was placed on the stone covering the entrance.
To mankind, Jesus was dead. Anyone who had witnessed his body hanging on the cross would have known that death was inevitable. To the observers on that day, death would have certainly been identified as a welcomed relief to the pain and anguish of this condemned man that the Pharisees had called a "deceiver." They had witnessed the miracles and observed His impact on the people of that day, yet they failed to recognize Jesus as the Son of God...or did they? After being scourged, beaten, and horrifically crucified, the Pharisees were still unsure that Jesus would remain in the grave. I find it amusing that they felt a seal and a guard would prevent the Son of God from escaping death. Deep in their hearts, they must have known that this "Man of no reputation" was innocent. Seeing His miraculous works, they knew that He was different; they knew that He challenged their religious authority, and they knew that He must be dealt with. And so, they killed Him...or did they?
What they didn't know is the fact that there is a violent earthquake coming. It's very near. You see, a mighty angel of God has already been dispatched to come to earth and pay a visit to the borrowed tomb of this man the Pharisees called a "deceiver." He's coming. He’s on his way. There's a victory that has already been planned, but today is not the day. Today, outside the tomb, all is quite. The mourning for those who loved Jesus still continues, and the grief is real. But, inside the tomb, there's a battle raging. The majesty and glory of God, sacrificed on the altar of my sin and shame, on this day, is waging a war for my eternity. Mankind is convinced the story is over; God has other plans...
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!