The Resurrection, An Enemy’s Perspective Part 1

Let’s look at those who were hostile or indifferent to Christ. What was their response to the resurrection? Let’s set aside the hundreds of eye witness accounts of believers or followers of Christ who saw a resurrected Jesus. What does the Bible have to say about non-believers? What was their response and perspective after the death of Jesus? The religious Jews and their power base were threatened by Jesus. He was moving in on their turf. The Pharisees wanted any memory of Jesus to be completely sealed in a tomb. The Romans wanted political and military control of the region. The last thing the Romans wanted was upheaval and a social uprising. They were interested in “keeping the peace” as they saw it.

Matthew 27:64-66 “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.

The Pharisees have a request after the death of Jesus. To kill Him was not satisfactory. The Jews were bent on squelching any “resurrection”.  Pilate was likely agreeable to the Jews’ request just to get them out of his hair. He washed his hands of Christ’s pending death and claimed innocence of His blood (Matthew 27:24).

Pilate issued a Roman guard to protect the tomb. A guard was usually four men. These men were skillfully trained. Failure to perform their duty resulted in torture and death in front of their peers. The size of the average stone used to seal a tomb during Jesus’ day was approximately 1.5-2 tons. This would have taken several men to complete the job.  The tomb was sealed by the Roman Empire. If the Roman seal was broken, death by upside down crucifixion was the penalty. McDowell, J., Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1972, 1979.

Matthew 28:2-4 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 lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

These were Roman soldiers. These were the most skilled, deadly, and armed military men of their day.  But they had an encounter with something they had not seen before, a being capable of moving a sealed, two ton stone. This thing was bright, white hot and came with an earthquake. It dropped out of the sky. It was a picture of eerie calm. The angel sat on the grave stone it moved, not exactly a hostile or defensive posture.

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