The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”
Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.
Matthew tells this peculiar little story about the religious authorities petitioning Pilate for a garrison of soldiers to be stationed at the tomb where Jesus’ body had been put to rest. The posting of the guards and the sealing of the tomb was intended to secure the body and prevent any further trouble-making from the upstart Jesus or his disciples.
On this Holy Saturday, as we sit in the doorway between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, take some time to consider and name those “guards” that are stationed around your mind and heart. What is present in your life that seems intended on preventing hope from springing forth? What things are attempting to ensure death wins, rather than the emergence of true life?
Ego? Fear? Shame? Pride? Doubt? Addiction? Despair? Bitterness? Unforgiveness? Codependence? Dishonesty?
If it helps you, draw out the scene on a piece of paper…. A simple tomb sealed tight with guards stationed around it (stick men will do if you’re artistically challenged). Label the “guards” with names that seem most prevalent or imposing in your own life. After you have mulled over and acknowledged them, go to God in prayer.
You must have been unconcerned by the feeble efforts of men to keep your will for resurrection and life from coming to pass. But to me, these “guards” seem imposing; they seem intent on keeping me from experiencing new life and the hope of resurrection. I rely on you for an Easter victory. May Your Kingdom come, may Your will be done – on earth and in my life.