The chief priests and Pharisees succeeded in quieting the voice of Jesus when they had him killed on the cross. His influence was larger than life while he lived and because of envy they delivered Jesus to the Romans to be executed (Matthew 27:18). Immediately following his death, the enemies of Jesus felt the pangs of guilt and fear when they came to Pilate and asked a guard be placed at the tomb of Jesus. "On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, 'Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first.' Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.' So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard" (Matthew 27:62-66).
They viewed Jesus of Nazareth as a "deceiver", "liar" or "imposter." The Jewish leaders rejected Jesus as the Messiah and sought to kill him when he claimed "that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God" (John 5:18). Some people believed Jesus to be a good man but others believed him to be a deceiver (John 7:12). Now at his death, the chief priests and Pharisees had a greater problem. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, he taught his disciples that he would rise from the dead. "From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day" (Matthew 16:21; see also Matthew 17:22-23; 20:17-19).
Part of the charge brought up to convict Jesus was how he would destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days (Matthew 26:59-61). Jesus was speaking of his body (John 2:19-22) and the fear the Jews had about Jesus raising from the dead was what drove them to ask Pilate for a guard at the tomb. Their request only solidified the undeniable proof that Jesus would be raised the third day (Acts 26:22-23). The last deception they feared became the truth of the gospel of salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-28). The motivation of the early disciples was based upon the knowledge that Jesus was alive and exalted to the right hand of God. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
Jesus declared boldly that salvation could only come through him. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). Many today still believe this to be a lie and deny Jesus as being the Son of God. His life was neither a deception nor was he an imposter. The only hope - the only hope that man can have is in Jesus Christ. "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Unless you believe the life of Jesus with all his miracles, teachings and testimonies; unless you believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; there is no hope of eternal life. The deception you believe now will be truth on the day when God will judge all men by "the Man whom He has ordained" (Acts 17:30-31). No guard could contain the Son of God. He arose. He lives. He reigns. He is coming back!
By Kent Heaton
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