November 12

Text: Matthew 27:65, 66

Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how."  And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.  (NASB)

Is there any significance to Pilate’s response?  Did he merely say what he was supposed to say?  Or, was there some significance, some specific meaning to what he said?

There are three possibilities.

(1) “I have had enough of you and your petty rivalry today.  From now on this is your matter, not mine.  I am tired of being your solution to your problems.  You are on your own from this point forward.  Do whatever you choose to do.”

(2) “Jesus must have been who he told me he was.  No amount of injustice on your part will change His identity.  If now you are afraid of a dead man, that is your concern.  If you think you are going to take care of your problem by guarding his grave, then you are welcome to guard his grave.  This is strictly your problem, not mine.”

(3) “If you still have mess you must face, it is a Jewish mess, not a Roman mess.  It has been a Jewish matter all along—I feel very used.  When I washed my hands of the matter, I made it plain in no uncertain terms I was through.  Do whatever you wish to do, but leave me out of it.”

Personally, I doubt that Pilate in any way indicated any level of belief in Jesus.  At most, he was safely irritating the Jewish leadership.  It seems Pilate regarded the entire matter as much ado about nothing.

Only Matthew discussed the guard on the tomb.  If it were Jewish temple guards who composed the guards watching the tomb, there was an enormous irony.  The first witnesses of the removed stone and the angel likely did not even believe the spirit world existed.  No wonder they were terrified!

The priests (mostly Sadducees) generally did not believe in spirits (Acts 23:8).  The temple guards likely were picked by the temple power structure.  Most of the Pharisees did not think Jesus was the Messiah.  Pilate likely believed in many gods.  Thus the world was given a Savior by people who rejected the idea that Jesus could bless the world.

Suggestion for reflection: How much does your faith in Jesus depend on others’ faith in Jesus?  (Read Hebrews 12:1-7.)

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