Matthew 28:11-15 – Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.' And if this should come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble." And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day. (NASB)
We are likely all familiar with the story of Jesus' resurrection, recounted by Matthew in the 28th chapter of his gospel. But I would imagine many of us, including myself, are not extremely familiar with the actions of the guards after Jesus' resurrection from the grave.
Their reaction is what my Bible notes refer to as "a cover-up". And while their actions seem quite extreme, many people today are guilty of the same sin. The soldiers had been witnesses to the greatest event in the history of the world. Yet for some pieces of silver or gold, they agreed to pretend it never happened. Whenever a cover-up is planned for a crime, there must be a story to tell. In the case of the soldiers, the story would be that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus in the middle of the night.
The fact is that many people today, both Christians and non-Christians, try to cover up the existence and power of Jesus. On the non-Christian front, there are constant attempts to disprove the supremacy and even the existence of Jesus: discouraging or forbidding public prayer, teaching evolution or "spontaneous combustion" as the explanation for our origins, and so on. Religious freedom is encouraged, until it comes to Christians, and then we are told that we cannot practice our religion freely because it imposes upon the freedoms of other people.
But while these actions of non-Christians are bad, it is the actions of Christians that are even more damaging. Christians who are too afraid to proclaim their faith because they might be persecuted or treated as outcasts in their workplace; Christians who "worship" God on Sunday, and then live like pagans the rest of the week; Christians in the business world who sacrifice their Christian principles to close big business deals, or to frequently justify not attending church because of a big conference or seminar: these types of attitudes and actions displayed by Christians are most damaging to the family of God. These actions will keep more people out of heaven than the opposition of a thousand non-Christians, because for many people, the actions of a Christian acquaintance are the only evidence of Jesus that will ever be seen.
So we have a great cover-up. But more importantly we have a great commission.
Jesus was surely aware of the cover-up that was being devised concerning His resurrection. So to His disciples, and to us, He issued the great commission.
Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (NASB)
It is up to us as Christians to ensure that the cover-up of Christ's resurrection is not successful. We must willingly and faithfully spread His gospel message to all nations and to all people. There is no middle ground in this issue. We are either part of the cover-up or part of the commission. The decision is ours to make.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, we thank you and praise you for your glorious resurrection from the grave and for the new life which it provides to us. We ask that you will daily give us the strength and faith we need to be great-commission-Christians by spreading the good news of your gospel to those around us. Amen.