The immediate aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection is truly amazing. The fact of his resurrection was known to the guards, who saw the angel, who heard what was said to the woman and who likely went into the tomb and saw that it was empty. They had guarded the tomb the entire night and knew for a fact that no one could have come and stolen Jesus’ body. They communicated this information to the religious leaders who knew by the testimony of the guards what had happened. Rather than accepting the truth and repenting, the religious leaders fabricated a ridiculous lie to explain the empty tomb. After being paid money, the guards were instructed to incriminate themselves by saying they had fallen asleep and while they slept, Jesus’ disciples came and stole his body. The lie is ridiculous and unbelievable, because if they had been sleeping, they would not have known who had come to steal the body. If they had been awake and seen that it was the disciples, they would have stopped them and there would be no empty tomb. Their story is not credible. The only ones who believed the story were those who wanted some explanation for the empty tomb.
What is further interesting is how did Matthew discover what had happened? Either one of the leaders confessed what they had told the guards or one of the guards confessed what they had done. Since none of the disciples would have been present to observe this event, someone present must have confessed so that Matthew became aware of what had happened. What was supposed to have been a secret, confirmed with a bribe, has since become common knowledge. The truth of what happened that Sunday morning has become known throughout the world. The religious leaders’ and guards’ attempt to cover-up the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead, exactly what they had heard him declare, and the reason why they posted a guard had happened. All they succeeded in doing was revealing the greed of the guards and their own evil intent to hide the truth. Their example reveals the futility of seeking to maintain a secret, because eventually someone lets the cat out of the bag.
One thought on “The Problem With Secrets”
Great post David. A couple of points I had never thought of–and I have read a dozen books and preached many sermons on this topic. ” if they had been sleeping, they would not have known who had come to steal the body. If they had been awake and seen that it was the disciples, they would have stopped them and there would be no empty tomb….” Great insight. Second, I have never asked the question, “How did Matthew know?” N.T. Wright is surely correct–the evidences surrounding the empty tomb demand we believe Jesus supernaturally was raised from the dead. And as C.S. Lewis points out in another context–Christianity’s explanation is a lot more credible than all the other explanations. Thanks again for this excellent post.