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Very few dignitaries have had the honour of having guards placed over their tombs. However, for Jesus, the guards were designated specifically to counter any ‘resurrection’ claims.

After Jesus’ crucifixion, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate. The Jewish leaders remembered Jesus’ prophecy about His resurrection (Mt 27:63). They feared that a fake resurrection claim would cause more trouble than Jesus’ ministry had. They thought that Jesus’ disciples might steal his body and claim he had risen from the dead.

When the chief priests and the Pharisees sought the adoption of precautionary measures by Pilate, he said, “You have a guard, go and take all the necessary precautions” (Mt 27:65). This sounded ironic because Pilate might have believed in Jesus’ words that he would rise from the dead. Pilate might still have been smarting from the unjust judgement extracted from him by the Jewish leadership in connection with Jesus.

By Pilate’s authorization, the chief priests and Pharisees ensured the tomb’s security by sealing the stone and assigning guards. The presence of guards was meant to prevent any attempt to steal Jesus’ body, ensuring that the tomb remained undisturbed. A seal was placed on the stone to indicate it was under official protection and tampering with it would be a serious offense.

Matthew reports a story of the guards who saw Jesus’ resurrection (Mt 28:11-15). “The guards returned to the city and some of them reported to the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests met with the Jewish authorities and decided to give the soldiers a good sum of money, with this instruction, ‘Say that while you were asleep, his disciples came by night and stole the body of Jesus. If Pilate comes to know of this, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ The soldiers accepted the money and did as they were told. This story has circulated among the Jews until this day” (Mt 28:11-15) – which also became further evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.

Instead of becoming believers, the soldiers betrayed Jesus like Judas for material benefits. The chief priests and the Jewish authorities who had the ultimate proof of Jesus as the Messiah misused the opportunity to accept him and, instead, hid the truth from the public. Jesus had talked about the Jewish leaders: “Therefore, woe to you, teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door to the Kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor do you allow those who were entering to do so” (Mt 23:13).


The soldiers who guarded Jesus’ tomb were the only people who could have confirmed that something miraculous had indeed happened under their watch. But they chose not to believe in Jesus and seek salvation. Instead, they allowed themselves to be bought, like Judas. What do we prefer in our lives?

Despite human attempts to hinder God’s plan, the resurrection still took place. This shows that God’s will prevails over human actions. For believers, this is a call to trust in God’s omnipotence and reassures that God’s purposes cannot be ultimately hindered by human schemes.

The guard’s presence inadvertently provided a stronger testimony to the resurrection. When they later reported the events (Mt 28:11-15), even their testimony contributed to the evidence of the resurrection. This can encourage believers to see that even opposition can serve to further the truth of God’s work.

The chief priests’ actions stand as a cautionary tale against doubt. Their fear and disbelief ultimately proved futile. The empty tomb, on the other hand, signifies the triumph of faith and the truth of Jesus’ teachings. This story emphasizes that true faith persists even in the face of hardship and challenges.


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