Guards Securing the Tomb

Saturday, April 30, 2022

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62-64 After sundown, the high priests and Pharisees arranged a meeting with Pilate. They said, “Sir, we just remembered that that liar announced while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will be raised.’ We’ve got to get that tomb sealed until the third day. There’s a good chance his disciples will come and steal the corpse and then go around saying, ‘He’s risen from the dead.’ Then we’ll be worse off than before, the final deceit surpassing the first.”

65-66 Pilate told them, “You will have a guard. Go ahead and secure it the best you can.” So they went out and secured the tomb, sealing the stone and posting guards.

-Matthew 27:62-66 The Message

The Guard at the Tomb

Verse 62: The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate.

Verse 63: and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’

Verse 64: 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.”

Verse 64 study: The religious leaders took Jesus’ resurrection claims more seriously than the disciples did. The disciples forgot about Jesus’ teaching about his resurrection; (20:17-19) but religious leaders didn’t. Jesus’ claims made religious leaders almost afraid after his death, even before he died. They took every precaution that his body would remain in the tomb. 

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

-Matthew 20:17-19 ESV

Verse 65: Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.”

Verse 66: So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Verse 66 study: Now, the Pharisees are afraid of Jesus’ predictions about the resurrection, so they made sure the tomb was thoroughly sealed and guarded. The tomb was hewn out of a rock on the side of a hill; there was only one entrance. The tomb was sealed by stringing a cord across the stone rolled over the entrance. The cord was sealed at each with clay. Religious leaders took further precautions by placing guards at the entrance. With these precautions, the only way the tomb can be empty is for Jesus to rise from the dead. Unfortunately, the Pharisees didn’t understand that no rock, seal, guard, or army could prevent the Son of God from rising again.


Friday, April 29, 2022

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The Tomb

57-61 Late in the afternoon, a wealthy man from Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, arrived. His name was Joseph. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate granted his request. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in clean linens, put it in his own tomb, a new tomb only recently cut into the rock, and rolled a large stone across the entrance. Then he went off. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary stayed, sitting in plain view of the tomb.

-Matthew 27:57-61 The Message

Jesus Is Buried

Verse 57: When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.

Verse 58: He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.

Verses 57-58 studies: Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of Jesus. He was a religious leader and an honored member of the Council. Joseph was afraid to speak against religious leaders who oppressed Jesus, but now he is courageous and bold for asking to take Jesus’ body from the cross and bury it. All the disciples that followed Jesus fled, but the Jewish leader Joseph followed Jesus secretly to do what was right.

43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

-Mark 15:43 ESV

Verse 59: And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud

Verse 60: and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

Verse 60 study: The tomb they laid Jesus was probably a man-made cave cut out of one of the many limestone hills in the area. These were caves that were large enough to walk in.

Verse 61: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The Second Part of Jesus’ Death

Thursday, April 28, 2022

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51-53 At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)

54 The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, “This has to be the Son of God!”

55-56 There were also quite a few women watching from a distance, women who had followed Jesus from Galilee in order to serve him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the Zebedee brothers.

-Matthew 27:51-56 The Message

Verse 51: And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Verse 51 study: The courts, the holy place where the priests could enter, and the holy of holies where the high priest could enter, and only once a year, to atone for the nation’s sins (see Leviticus 16:1-35). The veil separating the holy place from the holy of holies was torn into two at Christ’s death, symbolizing the barrier between God and humanity was removed. People are now free to approach God because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. (Hebrews 9:1-14; 10:19-22)

Verse 52: The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,

Verse 53: and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Verses 52-53 studies: Christ’s death came with four miracles:

  1. Darkness
  2. The tearing of the veil in the temple.
  3. An earthquake.
  4. Dead people rising from their tombs.

Jesus’ death did not go unnoticed. Everybody knew something unique had happened.

Verse 54: When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

Verse 55: There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him,

Verse 56: among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

The First Part of Jesus’ Death

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

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45-46 From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

47-49 Some bystanders who heard him said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” One of them ran and got a sponge soaked in sour wine and lifted it on a stick so he could drink. The others joked, “Don’t be in such a hurry. Let’s see if Elijah comes and saves him.”

50 But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last.

-Matthew 27:45-50 The Message

The Death of Jesus

Verse 45: Now, from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.

Verse 45 study: It’s not clear how darkness happened, but we know that God caused it. Nature testified to Jesus’ gravity in his death, while Jesus’ friends and enemies fell silent in the encircling gloom. The darkness on that Friday afternoon was both a physical and spiritual experience.

Verse 46: And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Verse 46 study: Jesus quoted the first line of Psalm 22. He was not questioning God. Instead, a profound expression of the anguish he felt when he took on the world’s sins, which caused him to be separated from his Father.

Verse 47: And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.”

Verse 47 study: The bystanders misunderstood Jesus’ words and thought he called out to Elijah. Elijah ascended into heaven without dying. They believed he would return again to rescue them from trouble. At the annual Passover feast, each family set an extra place at the table for Elijah for his return.

11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

-2 Kings 2:11 ESV

5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes."

-Malachi 4:5 ESV

Verse 48: And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink.

Verse 49: But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

Verse 50: And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

The Last of “At the Cross”

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

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41-44 The high priests, along with the religion scholars and leaders, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: “He saved others—he can’t save himself! King of Israel, is he? Then let him get down from that cross. We’ll all become believers then! He was so sure of God—well, let him rescue his ‘Son’ now—if he wants him! He did claim to be God’s Son, didn’t he?” Even the two criminals crucified next to him joined in the mockery.

-Matthew 27:41-44 The Message

Verse 41: So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,

Verse 42: “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

Verse 43: He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

Verse 44: And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Verse 44 study: One of the robbers repented. Jesus promised him that he would join him in Paradise.


Monday, April 25, 2022

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32-34 Along the way, they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus’ cross. Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call “Skull Hill,” they offered him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when he tasted it, he wouldn’t drink it.

35-40 After they had finished nailing him to the cross and were waiting for him to die, they killed time by throwing dice for his clothes. Above his head, they had posted the criminal charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews. Along with him, they also crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”

-Matthew 27:32-40 The Message

The Crucifixion

Verse 32: As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.

Verse 32 study: Condemned prisoners had to carry their own cross to the execution site. Jesus was weak from his beatings and couldn’t hold his cross. Simon, who was a bystander, helped him. Simon was from Cyrene in Northern Africa and was one of the Jews visiting Jerusalem for the Passover.

Verse 33: And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull),

Verse 34: they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.

Verse 33 study: “Golgotha,” aka skull, gets its name from its appearance, according to scholars. Golgotha was a regular place for execution in a prominent public area outside the city where executions held there would serve as a deterrent to criminals.

Verse 34 study: Gall is a drink to help with pain, but Jesus refused to drink it. Jesus suffered consciousness with a clear mind.

Verse 35: And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

Verse 35 study: The soldiers took the clothing of anyone getting crucified. They divided Jesus’ clothing for themselves. This fulfilled the prophecy made by David. Psalm 22 parallels Jesus’ crucifixion.

Verse 36: Then they sat down and kept watch over him there.

Verse 37: And over his head, they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Verse 38: Then, two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.

Verse 39: And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads

Verse 40: and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

Verse 40 study: The accusation used against Jesus was during history by the Council. Jesus was in the process of fulfilling his own prophecy. Jesus is the Son of God, who always obey the will of the Father. He didn’t come down from the cross.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

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The Crucifixion

27-31 The soldiers assigned to the governor took Jesus into the governor’s palace and got the entire brigade together for some fun. They stripped him and dressed him in a red robe. They plaited a crown from branches of a thornbush and set it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand for a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mocking reverence: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” they said. “Bravo!” Then they spit on him and hit him on the head with the stick. When they had had their fun, they took off the robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they proceeded out to the crucifixion.

-Matthew 27:27-31 The Message

Jesus Is Mocked

Verse 27: Then, the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.

Verse 27 study: A cohort of soldiers containing about 200 men uses a division of the Roman legion.

Verse 28: And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,

Verse 29: and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

Verse 29 study: People make fun of Christians for their faith. Believers can take courage from the fact that Jesus was mocked at his worst time. Taunting does hurt our feelings, but don’t let it destroy your faith.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

-Matthew 5:11-12 ESV

Verse 30: And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.

Verse 31: And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

Jesus is Delivered to Barabbas

Saturday, April 23, 2022

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23 He objected, “But for what crime?”

But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was imminent, he took a basin of water and washed his hands in full sight of the crowd, saying, “I’m washing my hands of responsibility for this man’s death. From now on, it’s in your hands. You’re judge and jury.”

25 The crowd answered, “We’ll take the blame, we and our children after us.”

26 Then, he pardoned Barabbas. But he had Jesus whipped and then handed over for crucifixion.

-Matthew 27:23-26 The Message

23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

Verse 24: So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

Verse 24 study: Pilate hesitated to give religious leaders permission to crucify Jesus. He thought they were jealous of a popular teacher with the people. Pilate became afraid when the Jews threatened to report him to Caesar. Another reason Pilate became afraid is history; it showed that the Jews threatened once to lodge a formal complaint against Pilate for his stubbornness in flouting their traditions.

From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

-John 19:12 ESV

Making a decision, Pilate decides to let the crowd crucify Jesus. Even though he washed his hands of a challenging situation, it doesn’t cancel your guilt. On the contrary, it gives you false peace. Don’t make excuses; take responsibility for your decisions.

Verse 25: And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

Verse 26: Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

Crowd; Pick Your Choice

Friday, April 22, 2022

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15-18 It was an old custom during the Feast for the governor to pardon a single prisoner named by the crowd. At the time, they had the infamous Jesus Barabbas in prison. With the crowd before him, Pilate said, “Which prisoner do you want me to pardon: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the so-called Christ?” He knew it was through sheer spite that they had turned Jesus over to him.

19 While court was still in session, Pilate’s wife sent him a message: “Don’t get mixed up in judging this noble man. I’ve just been through a long and troubled night because of a dream about him.”

20 Meanwhile, the high priests and religious leaders had talked the crowd into asking for the pardon of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus.

21 The governor asked, “Which of the two do you want me to pardon?”

They said, “Barabbas!”

22 “Then what do I do with Jesus, the so-called Christ?”

They all shouted, “Nail him to a cross!”

-Matthew 27:15-22 The Message

The Crowd Chooses Barabbas

Verse 15: Now, at the feast, the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd anyone prisoner whom they wanted.

Verse 16: And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.

Verses 15-16 studies: Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion against the Roman government. Although an enemy of Rome, he is a hero to the Jews. Barabbas was guilty of a crime for which Jesus was accused. Barabbas means “son of the father,” which means this was Jesus’ position with God.

And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.

-Mark 15:7 ESV

Verse 17: So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

Verse 18: For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.

Verse 19: Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.”

Verse 19 study: Pilate is a leader supposed to support justice. But Pilate proved to be more concerned with politically correct than doing what’s right. He did have opportunities to do the right thing. His conscience said Jesus was innocent; Roman law said an innocent man should not be put to death; his wife had a troubling dream. Pilate had no excuse to condemn Jesus but was afraid of the crowd.

Verse 20: Now, the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

Verse 21: The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”

Verse 21 study: The crowd was unpredictable. Everybody loved Jesus on Sunday because they believed he would inaugurate his kingdom. Then they hated him on Friday when his power appeared broken. In the face of the mass uprising against Jesus, his friends were afraid to speak up.

The obvious choice for the people was to choose Barabbas, a revolutionary and murderer, over the Son of God. But unfortunately, in today’s world, people choose Barabbas over the Son of God. This is because they would rather have the tangible force of human power than the salvation offered by the Son of God.

Verse 22: Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!”

Jesus Standing Before Pilate

Thursday, April 21, 2022

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11 Jesus was placed before the governor, who questioned him: “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”

Jesus said, “If you say so.”

12-14 But when the accusations rained down hot and heavy from the high priests and religious leaders, he said nothing. Pilate asked him, “Do you hear that long list of accusations? Aren’t you going to say something?” Jesus kept silence—not a word from his mouth. The governor was impressed, really impressed.

-Matthew 27:11-14 The Message

Jesus Before Pilate

Verse 11: Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.”

Verse 12: But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer.

Verse 12 study: Religious leaders accused Jesus of other crimes than what he was charged with. They arrested him for blasphemy (claiming to be God); it didn’t mean a thing to the Roman government. So religious leaders had to accuse Jesus of crimes that would open the ears of the Roman government. So they came up with crimes like not paying taxes, not paying taxes, claiming to be king, and causing riots. These are not true, but religious leaders were fixed on killing Jesus, so they broke commandments to do so.

Verse 13: Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?”

Verse 14: But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Verse 14 study: Jesus’ silence fulfilled the words of the prophet. Pilate was amazed that Jesus didn’t try to defend himself. He did see the apparent plot against Jesus and wanted to let him go, but Pilate was under pressure from Rome to keep the peace in his territory. The last thing he needed was a rebellion over this quiet and seemingly insignificant man.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.

-Isaiah 53:7 ESV