Now on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”
We’re going back in time, collecting the evidence before drawing our conclusions. It is the day before Easter. Old rumors are giving way to new realities.
That “deceiver” said he would rise from the dead after three days. Odd they got that mostly right. During the trial no one could seem to agree. The false witnesses couldn’t get their stories straight. He said he would destroy the Temple and build it again in three days.” No, he said he could destroy it. Yet now, one day later the danger may be even greater—“if his disciples steal the body the last deception will be worse than the first.”
Caiaphas, are you beginning to doubt what you knew for sure? Did you wake up with this new danger plaguing your Sabbath ritual? Did you discuss it with some of your Sadducee cronies, only to discover that you all awoke with the same dread thought?–If I was one of his followers, I’d steal the body just to stick it to the leaders! Are you really trying to protect the people from a false messiah? Or is it something else? Is your heart so full of deceit that you can’t help but project it on to others?
You must be consumed by your fears. What else could make you go back to Pilate again? Be careful! Pilate doesn’t like you. He has already washed his hands of your charade. Push him too far and you just might end up on a Roman cross yourself!
Once you start down this road where does it end? More soldiers to guard the tomb, more thuggery to justify your judicious actions—more bribes, more paranoia. It is a dangerous game you’re playing. You’re making it up as you go now, bending ancient laws, inventing new ones—there’s a word for this, “lawlessness.” Careful Caiaphas, remember His words, “because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” Feeling a bit chilly?
How could we, Christ’s followers, have forgotten His promise to rise in three days? He said it often enough. Caiaphas remembered and tried to stop it.
I forget the promises and do nothing.
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In this moment before heading into Your 40-day goodbye, help me remember this–You always keep Your word.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 (reprinted from April 2010)