62 The next day,on the Sabbath,the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. 63 They told him,”Sir,we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ 64 So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens,we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” 65 Pilate replied,”Take guards and secure it the best you can.” 66 So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it. (NLT)
Jesus was safe in the tomb. He was out of the way. He could then become a mere footnote in human history. The religious authorities wanted him in the tomb so they could get on with life as before,their power preserved,their traditions intact. So it is understandable they want to ensure there is no attempt to rescue Jesus and pretend he had come alive again. This would give credence to his own claims about rising from death.
Pilate’s response is perhaps unintentionally revealing. He suggests they guard it as best they can. After the event,we can understand that their best was not good enough. If the Son of God were to rise from death,no number of guards,no heavy stones,could stop it happening. The authorities and Pilate were dealing with what they thought was human plotting and scheming. This they could prevent. But not divine intervention.
There are still many who want to keep Jesus safe in the tomb. See him as a wise teacher,a brave martyr,an inspiring example of how to live. He is all this,of course,but a whole lot more. The tomb could not be secured because God doesn’t die. We cannot place Jesus into the category of past history or religious memory. The tomb is empty because this man was more than just a man. No one is safe from his claims to who he said he was.