Many of Israel’s religious leaders had come to hate Jesus of Nazareth. We’re taking snapshots from ETL’s post, Well, That Didn’t Work… in celebration of Easter and the One Who defeated death.

Jesus was a problem to the chief priests and Pharisees because He often contradicted them and enthusiastic crowds were hanging on His every word. He was authoritatively teaching things about God which challenged everyone’s thinking. Worse yet, He picked embarrassingly common men as His disciples, was performing wondrous miracles, and claiming Jehovah God as His Father.

He’d become the people’s hero and needed to go.

If one wasn’t in tune with all of the Messiah’s teachings and Old Testament prophecies about Him, it would seem the chief priests and Pharisees succeeded in destroying Him.  They bought off Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples. Jesus didn’t put up a fight when they came by night to “arrest” Him. And their hope of Him being ridiculed and put to death was realized.

Jesus died, having been crucified outside Jerusalem. It was confirmed and a number of them saw it with their own eyes. Their hated enemy was dead.

But inexplicable and frightening things happened in the process. At the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple which had barred entrance from the Holy of Holies was instantly torn in two, from top to bottom (see Saved From Sewing).  The earth shook and the rocks split.  The Roman centurion keeping guard over Jesus during His crucifixion—upon seeing the earthquake and the things which were happening—became terrified and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:50-54)

That evening, a man named Joseph asked the Roman authority, Pilate, for the body of Jesus. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb. A large stone, most likely on a ramp and held in place by a timber, was rolled into place against the entrance of the tomb.

The chief priests and Pharisees should have been fully satisfied with their “success”. Their hated enemy was dead and buried. His disciples were scattered.

It was over.

* * *

Until they got to thinking, that is.

Their nerves were likely frayed; not only because of the earthquake and the rocks splitting, but the timing of those events.  And how, they may have wondered, was the temple veil between mankind and Jehovah’s Holy of Holies torn from top to bottom? It was a thick, tight, intricate weaving. There was no way it could have just ripped like that!

The exclamation of the tough, seasoned centurion—absolutely terrified—may also have continued running through their minds: “Truly this was the Son of God!”

* * *

The chief priests and Pharisees began to worry. Specific words spoken by Jesus were poignantly recalled and apparently discussed together, as a group.

Then came their plan which—as we are celebrating this week—could only fail.

* * *

“Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, ‘Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, “After three days I am to rise again.”

Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away, and say to the people, “He has risen from the dead,” and the last deception will be worse than the first.’

Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.”

Matthew 27:62-66

* * *

Can you imagine an eyebrow raising in quiet disbelief from the highly trained, tactical expert in charge of the Roman guard when he heard the order?

“You’re to set a guard at the tomb of the man, Jesus, who was crucified yesterday.”

“Why? If I may ask.”

“He said after His death, He was going to come back to life three days later.”

“And?”

“Well, of course we don’t believe that will happen…”

“And so?”

“There’s some concern His disciples might come and try to steal the body. And then tell the people He rose from the dead.”

“Ahhh. Like He said He would, you mean?”

“I don’t know what He said. We just need to secure the area.”

“So, I’m to take my special ops men and be ready to die with them, if necessary, protecting… a dead Jew’s tomb?”

“Yes. It’s apparently important.”

“We’re protecting it from whom, again?”

“Jesus’ disciples.”

“I see. The ones who disappeared? Those cowards? The fishermen and misfits, from what I understand?”

“Yes, whoever they are.”

“Well… all right then. There you have it!”

* * *

Matthew 28:1-11:

“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.

And his appearance was like lightening, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.

Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.’

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said to them,

‘Do not be afraid; go and take word to my brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.’

Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.”

* * *

When Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead, He appeared to many—and it was no secret (see I Corinthians 15:3-6; Acts 1:1-3).

Of course, His resurrection from death proved the truth of Jesus’ every word.

* * *

Those who crucified the LORD were hostile toward Him, yet many came to trust in Jesus as the Messiah-Savior in the weeks which followed (see Acts 2:14-47). While those of us who know and love Christ today may think these people were horrible, we were no different as seen in Colossians 1:21: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation…”

Everyone is invited to know the Savior, and Jesus—the Risen One—is His name.

* * *

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

Hallelujah!

Jesus is not the enemy of our souls. He is God the Son: the repentant sinner’s Savior who is willing and able to bring anyone placing his or her faith in Him into unity with Himself. The Risen One will one day raise His own, free and victorious…

… just as He said!

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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