He is not here...

He is risen! Though some doubted...

The day after Preparation Day, after Jesus had been laid in the tomb (which could have been a Friday or a Thursday or even possibly a Wednesday - the important thing is that it did happen), the Jewish leaders went to Pilate to ask that a guard be posted to secure the tomb. They feared...what did they fear? They had heard Jesus say that after three days He would rise again. They claimed that they feared Jesus' disciples would come to steal the body and then say he had risen from the dead, which they said would be "worse fraud than the first." (Because of course, they thought Jesus was not who He claimed to be from the first miracle until the last.)

Pilate, apparently tired of dealing with them, told them to secure the grave themselves. So they took the Roman guard and sealed the tomb and set the soldiers to guard it. I wonder, did the Jewish leaders really fear that Jesus might have been telling the truth? Did they think that their guards and their seal could somehow stop the Man who had healed the sick and raised the dead from doing what He intended? Seriously?

It reminds me of something our guide told us when we visited Israel three years ago. We stood near the Eastern Gate, which has been sealed shut, apparently to prevent the Jewish Messiah from entering that way, to stop what is foretold in the Jewish Scriptures. I had the same thought then as I did in reading this passage about the guards and the tomb. Do you honestly think you can stop God with a brick and mortar seal?

The soldiers could not stop Him then, and no one on earth will stop Him when He comes back again, stands on the Mount of Olives, and walks on through that Eastern Gate. It's just not something anyone can prevent whether they want to or not. It would be like trying to harness tornadoes or control the path of a raging sea. We can track them, but we cannot control or stop them. Only God is great enough to do so, and if God plans to rise from the dead or enter Jerusalem through a sealed gate, I'm pretty sure He can do what He pleases.

Funny how even that did not convince the Jewish leaders to believe. The soldiers either. The soldiers raced back to the chief priests and told them what happened, but rather than examine the evidence and check to see if these things could be true, they paid the soldiers hush money to keep it quiet and to spread the rumor that the disciples had come to steal Jesus' body in the night while they were sleeping. What kind of guard gets away with such a tale? And after all of the miracles Jesus did, why was this story even accepted?

And yet...this story was circulated and believed, like so many lies today.

But the truth is, there is no body, because the Man that was laid in the tomb that day rose and transformed and sits at God's right hand. And He is coming again. Just try to stop Him!