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 NIV84)
Now, aren’t these the guys who were constantly charging Jesus with unlawful behavior because He would heal someone on the Sabbath? Jesus’ body was at rest in a tomb. The disciples and followers of Jesus were observing the Sabbath together in the upper room. Everyone seemed to be at rest on the Sabbath day except the religious leaders. Something was bugging them. It was bothering them so much that they were compelled to break the Sabbath and go to Pilate. What were they all worked up about? The resurrection. Seriously! Jesus’ own disciples had not yet put all the pieces together about Jesus’ death and resurrection, but the religious leaders remembered Jesus saying that, like Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days, so the Son of Man would be in the belly of the earth (the grave) for three days and rise again. From their perspective, all they needed was for someone to assert that Jesus rose from the dead and all their work to silence Jesus would become moot.
So what did they do? They asked Pilate to put guards at the tomb in order to deter anyone who might think of coming to steal the body of Jesus and then claim that He rose from the dead. They even stated that the guards would only be needed for three days. You see, they understood what Jesus meant when He stated that if they destroyed this temple that in three days Jesus would build it again. They knew He wasn’t talking about the priestly temple but rather His own body. But they were making one crucial mistake; they didn’t listen clearly enough. They were putting guards on the outside of the tomb to ensure that no one would get in and steal the body. The threat was not from outside the tomb but inside the tomb. Jesus said that He would build it again in three days. It was Jesus who said, “No man takes My life, but I will lay it down and I will pick it up again.” The guards were on the wrong side of the stone. Life was not going into the tomb, but it was going to come out from it.
So, the religious leaders got their way. The Roman seal was placed on the stone, and Roman soldiers were guarding the outside so no one could get in. Oh, how the people plotted in vain. If only they had known who it was who was in the tomb and had an inkling of what was soon to happen. Today, like the disciples, let’s honor the day and wait for what is about to happen. We are blessed to know what’s next. On Sunday, something is going to happen on the inside of the tomb that will change everything.