Christ’s mission seemed to have ended (and even failed) with His death on the cross. Satan succeeded in instigating Judas to betray the Saviour (Luke 22:3, 4; John 13:26, 27
) and the chief priests and elders to demand His death (Matt. 26:59
, Matt. 27:20
). After Jesus was arrested, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled”
, NKJV), and Peter denied Him three times (Matt. 26:69-75
). Now Jesus was lying in a tomb hewed out of a rock, closed with a large and sealed stone, protected by Roman guards (Matt. 27:57-66
), and watched by invisible demonic powers. “If he could, he [Satan] would have held Christ locked in the tomb.”
— Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, p. 412.
During His earthly ministry, Christ had foretold not only His death on the cross but also His resurrection. Using the Eastern inclusive language — in which a fraction of a day stands for a whole day — Jesus mentioned that “as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”
(Matt. 12:39, 40
, NKJV). On other occasions Jesus underscored that He would be killed but on the third day He would rise again (Matt. 16:21; Matt. 17:22, 23; Matt. 20:17-19
). The chief priests and the Pharisees were aware of those statements and took measures that they hoped would prevent His resurrection.
Read Matthew 27:62-66
. How did these actions only help provide the world later with more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus?
All security measures taken to keep Jesus locked in the tomb only made His victory over death and the hosts of evil even more noticeable because of all the precautions and measures that they took to try to make sure it would never happen.
Also, these men surely had heard of the miracles of Jesus; they had seen some of them, too. And yet, they think that a guard over the tomb could stop Him, the one who was able to do so many miracles, from being resurrected?
Also, to put a guard around the tomb in case of — what? The disciples might steal the body and then claim that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead? When the people would ask, Where is the risen Jesus? They could say: Just take our word for it.
If nothing else, their actions revealed just how afraid the chief priests were of Jesus, even after He died. Perhaps, deep down, did they fear that He just might be resurrected, after all.