In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis argued that the choice was clear. Jesus was either the greatest deceiver of all time, a lunatic on the level of someone who claims to be a poached egg or the Lord, the divine Son of God. This argument is often succinctly stated as a question: “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?” In his burial and resurrection narrative Matthew focuses on the “Liar or Lord” part of this argument. As we read his text, he challenges us to decide who is telling the truth—the religious leaders in Jerusalem or Jesus’ disciples who were eye witnesses to His resurrection. The issue hangs on the security of Jesus’ tomb.
Jesus’ disciples didn’t remember the sign of the Prophet Jonah that after three days Jesus would be raised from the dead (Matthew 12:38-42). The religious leaders did remember and they went to Pilate to make sure Jesus’ disciples didn’t rob the grave and propagate the lie that their Master had risen from the dead. They were worried that the Jesus movement would mushroom more after His death than when He was alive (Matthew 27:64). Ironically, they were right. The resurrection became the core of the early Christian teaching, and Jesus’ enemies and the guards they placed at His tomb proved that they were the ones who were lying when they said that the body had been stolen. They were worried about a resurrection resolution to Jesus’ story, so they had gone to Pilate and asked him to secure the grave.
“Pilate answered, ‘You have guards! Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went and secured the tomb. They sealed the stone with the soldiers as guards.” - Matthew 27:65-66
The enemies of Jesus did everything they could to make sure that Jesus’ body remained inside His tomb wrapped in His grave clothes. It wasn’t enough.
LORD, the battle between You and the Serpent raged on even after You breathed out Your physical life at 3:00 PM on Good Friday. Your enemies did everything they could to make sure that Your disciples didn’t steal Your body. They didn’t need to. They were scared to death and on the run. But death couldn’t hold You. What a story and it’s true! Move many to carefully read Matthew’s account and decide for themselves who’s actually lying when it comes to the fact of Your resurrection.
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