Bible Event – Jesus’ Life
Time: Easter Sunday at Dawn
While the soldiers stood guard at Jesus’ sealed tomb, “Suddenly, there was a severe earthquake” and an angel whose clothes was as white as snow appeared. The angel rolled away the tombstone and sat on it. The soldiers were terrified, “like dead men”. (Matthew 28:2-4)
This was the fourth time Angels had appeared in Jesus’ midst. They appeared at his birth, his temptation in the desert, his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and now at his resurrection.
When the soldiers recovered their senses and seeing Jesus’ tomb empty, they hurried to tell the Jewish leaders whom they were temporarily accountable to. The leaders arranged a council assembly, a meeting of probably the majority of the Sanhedrin.
The decision of the Sanhedrin, (the chief priests, experts in the Law and elders) was a mixture of bribery and lies. They gave the soldiers a “large sum of money” in return for saying, “His disciples came at night and stole his body while [they] were asleep”. They also assured the soldiers that should Pilate hear of the incident, they would, “satisfy him and keep [them] out of trouble”. (Matthew 28:13-14)
The soldiers accepted the money and “did as they were instructed”. (Matthew 28:15) (Matthew 28:2-4, 11-15)
St John Chrysostom comments:
“How did they steal him? O most foolish of all men [Apostles]… and [after his arrest] not venturing so much as to show themselves?
What? Was not a seal put upon it [the tomb]… were there not many watchmen and soldiers and Jews stationed round it… did not those men suspect this very thing, and take thought…
And [why would] they steal it? That they might feign the doctrine of the resurrection?
And how could they remove the stone that was made sure? How could they have escaped the observation of so many?
Nay…, they would not have attempted without purpose and fruitlessly to venture in defiance of so many who were on the watch… they did not dare so much as to stand their ground when they saw him alive, how when he was dead could they but have feared such a number of soldiers?” (‘Hem.,’ 90.)
Risen Lord Jesus, as we celebrate your resurrection, help us to imitate your life through living your Gospel in a missionary spirit.
May we see the wonder of your Father’s creation in everyone we meet today. Amen
Prayer: Today/Tonight (St Augustine)
Watch, Lord, with those who wake or weep today/tonight.
Give the Angels and Saints charge over them.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
tend Your sick ones,
rest Your weary ones,
bless Your dying ones,
soothe the suffering ones,
pity all the afflicted ones,
shield the joyful ones,
and all for Your love’s sake. Amen.