Today’s post is written by my friend, TJ, over at *Lift My Noise.* Thanks, TJ!
Matt 28: 11-15 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
A plan of fools. With Jesus’ missing body and rumors that he rose from the dead, the guards keeping watch ran to seek advice from the chief priests. Chief priests then turned to the elders. Fear gave way to secrecy and conspiracy, which evolved into a devious scheme involving bribery. The age-old exchange of money to cover the truth.
“Blame the disciples,” the elders instructed the soldiers. “Say they stole him away while you were sleeping, and we’ll cover your tracks.” No harm done, Jesus gets no credit as the Messiah he claimed to be, and the priests and elders maintain control and authority.
What strikes me about this passage is the soldiers’ unfortunate response. With an empty grave, they immediately ran to the chief priests. The supernatural was right in front of their eyes and they missed it. These soldiers – possibly young men with heroic dreams of service to the Roman army – had no idea what a monumental event they were privy to. Of all the world’s generations and cities and occupations, these unnamed soldiers were at the precise time and place to play a role in the story that turned all the world upside down for eternity. They were a living, breathing component to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And they missed it. To live in that place in that moment, and they missed the miracle for the mundane.
I understand the need for soldiers to follow orders. They were trained to heed authority and I don’t blame them for following their chain of command. But upon meeting with the priests and elders, I’m guessing they knew something wasn’t quite right. The urgency and secrecy with which the following events were handled reveals a layer of fear among the priests and elders that Jesus really might be who he said he was. Yet the soldiers buried those inklings of wrongdoing in their conscience and plodded on with the lies and cover up.
Incidentally, none of this plan in Matthew 28 benefitted the soldiers. While Scripture doesn’t reveal the outcome of these particular men’s fate, history recounts that a Roman guard falling asleep on the job would result in death.
It makes me consider how in times of uncertainty and fear I petition my earthly chain of command – friends and family – rather than going directly to my Father. What am I missing as I bypass His directives and communication? Furthermore, what if my family and friends happen to respond with emotion and fear and impartiality – do I blindly go along or stop and really seek out TRUTH? I don’t want to miss the supernatural the Lord has before me.
Heavenly Father, you know us and created us. You know how to communicate and reveal yourself and your supernatural truth in our lives, in our own language, in ways we can hear and understand. Please give us eyes to see and ears to listen. We don’t want to miss out!