Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Never did soldiers have so hopeless an assignment. To keep Jeus in the tomb! It would be funny if it were not so tragic. "Senseless sentinels!"

A police officer in a small town stopped a motorist who was speeding down Main Street.

“But officer,” the man began, “I can explain.”

“Just be quiet,” snapped the officer. “I’m going to let you cool your heels in jail until the chief gets back.”

“But, officer, I just wanted to say—,”

“I said to keep quiet! You’re going to jail!”

A few hours later the officer looked in on his prisoner and said, “Lucky for you that the chief’s at his daughter’s wedding. He’ll be in a good mood when he gets back.”

“Don’t count on it,” answered the fellow in the cell. “I’m the groom.”

Never did soldiers have so hopeless an assignment. To keep Jesus in the tomb! It would be funny if it were not so tragic.”Senseless sentinels.”

For, unknown to them, what seemed to be a routine assignment was soon to witness the greatest event in the history of the world. Unknown to them even now two angels from realms of glory were winging their way to proclaim, “He is not here: for He is risen . . . “ (Matthew 28:6).

Three declarations tell the story of the “senseless sentinels.”:

Voice of prohibition - Jesus must not rise!

Voice of prejudice - Jesus did not rise!

Voice of proclamation - Jesus is risen!

Voice of prohibition - Jesus must not rise! (Matt. 27:62-66)

This is the voice of “the chief priests and Pharisees.”

What strange bedfellows! The chief priests (Sadducees) and the Pharisees were as widely separated as the poles on just about any issue that you might imagine.

Perhaps the greatest difference revolved about the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees, being rationalists and materialists, denied it. The Pharisees, being literalists and spiritual, affirmed it. (cf. Acts. 23:6-10) Yet it was this very doctrine that brought them together.

“the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate.” (Matt. 27:62) Why? To prevent the resurrection of Jesus.

Now, it is understandable why the Sadducees wanted to prevent it. But one would think that the Pharisees would be all for it. Not so. Why, then, this strange coalition? Because of their mutual prejudice with respect to the deity of Jesus. For it was this very sign of His resurrection on the third day that Jesus had given when they demanded a sign of His deity. (Matt. 12:23, 40)

The Deity of Christ

18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. (John 2:18-22)

“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;” (Rom 1:3)

“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” (Rom 1:4)

So, they forgot their differences in the face of their common problem. They must prove that Jesus is not the Son of God. Consequently, by hook or crook, he must not rise from the dead. So they asked Pilate for a guard. “Until the third day.”

Pilate granted their request. “You have a watch . . . make it as sure as you can.”

The voice of Prohibition - Jesus must not rise!

2nd, Voice of Prejudice - “ Jesus did not rise” (Matt 28:12-15)

Consider the voice of prejudice. It says “Jesus did not rise.” This is the voice of the Sadducees. Despite the “senseless sentinels” Jesus did rise.

When the soldiers reported to the chief priests the fact of the resurrection of Jesus, they took counsel, bribed the soldiers, and promised them immunity to tell the story that Jesus’ disciples stole His body while they slept.

This conspiracy view lacks credibility for several reasons:

1. It assumes, contrary to their unimaginative minds and good character, that the disciples were clever plotters.

2. Furthermore it is implausible to suppose that universal agreement could be maintained among all the disciples without the story eventually unraveling. (David Hale; Web Hubble)

How do we know that Jesus was resurrected? We have the eyewitness accounts of the eleven apostles who were with Him, and of course, the apostle Paul who saw Him. They were with Him before His crucifixion and for the forty days between His resurrection and His ascension. They lived for as long as forty years afterwards, never once denying that they had seen Jesus raised from the dead.

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