Summary: An Easter sermon from the perspective of the security detail assinged to guard the tomb of Jesus. Several illustrations included.
Jerusalem Security Systems, LLC – Incident Report
The report of the guards had to be a shock to those that heard it first. Matthew tells us that “some of the guards went into the city and reported”. Not all went to break the news to the Jewish leaders. We need to understand that to fall asleep while on guard meant certain death to the soldier. No excuses, lights out cancel Hanukah. Ancient Roman and Jewish history gives many accounts of guards that were executed because of their inability to remain awake during their assigned shift. We read in Acts chapter 12, verses 18 & 19 about such an event;
Acts 12:18-19 (NKJV)
18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death.
A procedure that most security companies these days follow is making sure that there is proper documentation for any given shift that has been covered. I have had the opportunity to read some of these shift reports turned in by various guards. Most are very dull and boring. However, sometimes there are reports that would interest CNN or maybe even Jerry Springer. I can imagine the report that was given by these guards that had been charged with keeping the tomb of Jesus secure.
A Roman guard consisted of four to sixteen soldiers. There is no specific detail as to exactly how many soldiers made up this particular guard detail but our scriptures tell us there were several. After the day of the Passover, Ciaphas the chief priest and several other Pharisees went to Pilate to ensure that the tomb of Christ was protected. They were afraid that the disciples would come and steal the dead body of Jesus and make a preposterous claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. They realized that if the disciples were to steal the body and make such a claim of His resurrection that this deception would be worse than the first.
Let’s look at the mindset of the disciples. We can look at the actions of impulsive Peter to see what was going on in their minds. Peter had denied Christ three times. Not just Peter, but every one of the disciples had abandoned Jesus when He was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. Do you think they would be in a state of mind to pull of the greatest body theft in all of history? I think not. They were all huddling together in fear just waiting to see what would happen next.
So now we follow the guards into the city. Jesus has already been discovered “missing” by the soldiers responsible for guarding the borrowed tomb. I don’t know about you, but I hate to be the one who brings bad news. I find it interesting that most children don’t tell their parents about broken dishes, vases, or toys that somehow “mysteriously” got broke because they fear the reaction of the parent. This fear of authority doesn’t leave when you get to adulthood. As a child growing up it didn’t matter who broke it, we were sworn to secrecy that we absolutely knew nothing about what got broken. Mom or dad would soon discover a favorite dish that lay in pieces in a corner and to us kids it this was a case could only be solved by Scooby Doo and the Mystery crew. Of course when questioned about the broken item, we would innocently look up with those child-like eyes and say “not me”. You know, “not me” somehow got all the blame around our house. It’s totally amazing that this same “not me” somehow has transcended another generation and now lives at our home with our two boys! Which soldiers were traveling into town to break the bad news? Was it those that were on duty when Jesus came out of the tomb? Probably not. I would suspect that it was those who didn’t want to be associated with this blunder that were leading the way to tattle on the ones who were responsible. Even though they were in the same guard unit together, when big trouble comes it was every man for himself.
What did the soldiers tell the chief priest and Pharisees? They could have made up a story about the disciples stealing the body on their own, but instead it was the chief priest and other Jewish leaders that are credited with concocting this amazing story of how the scared band of rag-tag fishermen overpowered the sixteen fully armed guards and stole the body of Jesus. The report made to the Jewish leaders was exactly how it happened. All they knew is what they saw. When the guards saw the angel sitting on the great stone, they literally fainted with fear.