The Weekend Word
The Death of Jesus (continued)
52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,
- The great earthquake shook open the tombs.
- What is going on here? Is this literal – zombies walking the streets?
- Or is this symbolic of the crucifixion releasing the souls of the saints?
53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
- The torn curtain, the earthquakes, the split rocks, the tombs opened – the dead bodies getting up and walking into town, the confession of the centurion and others – all of these events mark the enormity of this event.
- So who is Jesus? The Son of God – spoken from a most unlikely source.
55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him,
- This group has been ministering to the needs of Jesus for the entire 3 year.
- Jesus has many disciples, but only the 12 Apostles (men).
- The Greek word for ministering Diakonousai
56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
- Even in Altar Guild it is the women who take car of the body and blood of Jesus.
Jesus Is Buried
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.
- Again an example of a disciple who was not one of the 12.
58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.
- it makes you wonder who this guy was, how he had access to Pilate and why Pilate would honor the request.
59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud
- What about the Shroud of Turin?
60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.
- This is one time that Matthew does not say “to fulfill what was said by the prophets.” But it was! –
- Isa 53:9 – “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”
61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
- Doubters try to say that the women later went to the wrong tomb, but this cannot be the case – they sat there looking right at it perhaps 36 hours earlier.
The Guard at the Tomb – What we have just seen are the supporters of Jesus and their actions
- Simon of Cyrene carrying Jesus’ cross.
- Joseph of Arimathea providing the tomb.
- The Marys.
- Now we turn back to the opposition – even in death.
62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate
- Ok, so they took time off for the holiday, as all good religious people would do. Now it is time to get back to the plotting.
63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’
- Again we get our best theological statements from the enemies of Jesus. Even though they call him an imposter, they still knew his claim.
- The followers of Jesus probably did not remember what he said … but his enemies did.
- Jesus made promises at least 3 times – ‘yep I will be killed and on the 3rd day I will rise from the dead.’
64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”
- So we do know that the tomb was not left unattended. They knew what they were trying to keep from happening – theft of the body and a claim of a resurrection.
- The tomb would be secured and guarded.
65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.”
- This would make it a Jewish guard of some type – not a Roman guard as is often depicted.
66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
- The guards were Jewish but the seal probably represented Roman authority since Pilate gave the authorization.
- Breaking the seal would be in violation of the Roman government’s authority.