The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 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.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
(Matthew 27:62-66 ESV)
Over the past few days we’ve been studying the events leading up to and following Jesus’ crucifixion. Today we read a passage that exposes the lies and hypocrisy of Jesus’ enemies.
Jesus was crucified on the day before the Sabbath [Mark 15:42]. Saturday was the weekly Sabbath but each of the high holy days, such as Passover, were considered Sabbaths as well. This means that the next day was a Sabbath and on that day the chief priest and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate. This was a clear violation of Sabbath Law.
Isn’t it interesting how Jesus’ enemies had Him arrested, beaten, and executed for allegedly violating God’s law but they themselves were willing to violate that same law for the sake of ridding themselves of Jesus’ presence? These men were clearly hypocrites who claimed to be doing God’s will but were actually doing what pleased and served them.
Even more interestingly, notice their statement to Pilate. They remembered how Jesus said ‘After three days I will rise’. At Jesus’ trial they accused Him of threatening to destroy the temple in Jerusalem and rebuild it in three days [Matthew 26:61]. When Jesus originally made that statement [John 2:19-20] He was speaking of His own body but these men claimed they did not understand what He said. Now it turns out they understood exactly what Jesus meant all along.
People do the very same thing today. They claim that Jesus never existed. But they know that isn’t true. They claim He didn’t die on the cross. But they know that isn’t true. They claim there’s nothing in the Bible about abortion but they know that isn’t true. They claim being gay is a gift from God. But they know that isn’t true. They simply tell themselves these things to justify their preexisting unbelief in God and their prideful love of self.
To be sure, there are some people who have not heard the truth about Jesus and are operating under ignorance. But there are many, like these Jewish leaders, who have heard who Jesus said He was and the things He said about life, death, and eternity, and they know these things to be true. But they don’t want to admit it because admitting the truth about Jesus means admitting the truth about themselves.
So they twist Jesus’ words around in an effort to paint Him as a fraud, as these Jewish leaders did. They’d rather believe a lie that makes them feel good about themselves than believe the things that Jesus said – things He said for sole purpose of leading them to heaven.
Even more, they publicly declare their views in order to get others to believe the same lies as a way of justifying their opinions. We see this with celebrities on TV and with the general public on social media. Most of these people know they have no facts to back up their statements and that what they are espousing is lies.
Such a tactic only accomplishes one tragic thing. It separates them, and people who follow them, from God forever.
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