Matthew 28:11-15: The Soldiers are Bribed
Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 28, 2012
Matthew 28:11-15 As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. (12) A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. (13) They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ (14) If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” (15) So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.
The soldiers wondered why they were pulled from emergency duty on the Passover and assigned to guard a grave. Caiaphas was very adamant, demanding, and exacting when he assigned each soldier to a position around the site. The guards joked about Caiaphas’ jesters and expressions. One of them said, “it looked like his life depended on this assignment.” Another added, “why would anyone want to rob the grave of such a poor man?” An answer came back from a guard a few paces away. It’s not riches Caiaphas is worrying about them stealing, it is the body.” The commander joined in with what little he knew. “I was there when Pilate wrote a letter so the body would be released to one of the Rabbi’s followers. We all thought Caiaphas was a little short on common sense. If His people claimed the body through channels, why would they plan to steal it? It just doesn’t make sense.”
It was not a pleasant assignment for the soldiers. They already put in extra hours because of the Passover, and this was taking away what little time they would have had for themselves. To pass the time they began exchanging stories about their fearless and gallant exploits on the battle field. The stories became more and more unbelievable with acts of heroics beyond belief. They talked all through the night, waiting for the first sign of day break.
Suddenly a light appeared in the night sky. It was too bright to determine its origin. None of them knew what to do, shield their eyes, or draw their swords. It happened to quick for them to react. The earth shook and an even brighter light appeared from inside the tomb. Who moved the stone? How could such a light originate from inside a grave? Some stood in place shaking, others fell to the ground knocked off balance by the earthquake. They all tried to hide their faces from the light. Another jolt from the earth brought the standing guards to their knees. They could not resist the power of the quake or the force from the light. Then they saw Him. A man walking from the grave. A shimmering image like no other they ever saw. Jesus looked at them. Most of the soldiers were filled with a terror they never imagined possible. A few looked at Jesus with a sense of peace. The reality suddenly dawned on them. The man crucified and buried a few days ago just rose from the grave. They wondered what Caiaphas was thinking when he ordered them to protect the grave. Did he expect them to contain and over power this force? Did Caiaphas expect them to keep Jesus in the grave? No power on earth could have held Him there. The soldiers understood why Caiaphas acted in the manner he did. Soldiers are trained to sense fear and Caiaphas, although an accomplished actor in the political arena, could not cover the fear haunting him.
The soldiers remained fastened to the ground in shock while the women came and inspected the grave. Mary hardly noticed them as they remained motionless. The soldiers remained in a paralyzed state watching the women escorted to the grave by a tall being dressed in bright white. Light radiated from him as if he was lite from the sun. After the women left, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. Caiaphas was shocked. He sat at his position as high priest as paralyzed as the soldiers at the grave. For the first time Caiaphas was speechless. As the other priests asked for direction time and time again, Caiaphas remained motionless and silent. Priest who had been plotting against Caiaphas for some time seized the moment. They ordered a meeting with the eldersand decided to give the soldiers a large bribe.They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.” The soldiers knew they had to answer for their misconduct if they reported themselves sleeping. Besides, other soldiers were still at the site, or went off in a different direction. What if they already reported the truth? After discussing the possible scenarios the soldiers were assured, “If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” Of course the guards knew the priests had little or no influence over Pilate. As a matter of fact, Pilate would be delighted to see the priests stumble and fall, especially Caiaphas. Once the guards saw the bribe money and the priests convinced them of their ambitions to remove Caiaphas, the guards became comfortable with the scheme. So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.
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