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Deception Unmasked

Matthew 28:11-15
While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, 'You are to say, "His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep." If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.' So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. (NIVUK)

The body of Jesus had disappeared from the tomb. Despite the seal on the grave stone and the guards to protect the way into the burial site, the body had gone because Jesus had risen from death. The divine removal of the stone was not to let Jesus out, but to let the witnesses in (Acts 3:15).
However that gave the religious leaders a problem. They thought that the influence of Jesus, and particularly His challenge to their authority, would die away after His crucifixion. Nevertheless they had anticipated that if His disciples could steal His body, they might pretend that He was alive, as He promised. That is why the chief priests wanted Pilate's authority to post some of the temple guards to prevent that happening (Matthew 27:62-64). But they could not stop Jesus rising. So they resorted to lying.
The guards were bribed to admit that they fell asleep on duty, and somehow they knew (despite their unconsciousness) that the disciples had stolen the body! It was a very unlikely story. If it had been true the guards should have been most severely punished and unable to give false evidence. The large sums of money that they gained should have alerted somebody that there was another story. But it suited everybody involved to be blind to logic and truth. It suited the people who wanted Jesus to die to believe the lies. But key witnesses knew the living Jesus was alive (1 Corinthians 15:3-8), and the deception was unmasked.
Without the resurrection, Jesus would have been just another man who died. But so many eye witnesses met Jesus after the resurrection that it should be impossible for right thinking people to deny its truth. However the old lies continue to circulate. Why should people not want to be objective? Simply, it does not suit them: they do not want to admit they are sinners who need a Saviour to rescue them from God's wrath … they do not want to repent and submit to Him … they want to pretend that they are in control of their destiny and can achieve all they need without Jesus. So they believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). The only way to unmask a lie is to tell the truth. That is the ongoing work of Jesus' church (Acts 1:8). Wherever you hear people telling lies about Jesus, tell the truth: so that they may believe in Him and be saved (www.crosscheck.org.uk).

Living Lord. Thank You for the many eye witness accounts of the resurrection. Forgive me for allowing lies about Jesus to circulate where I live and work. Please help me to be a faithful witness and tell the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ so that my friends and colleagues may seek Him and be saved. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams