"'You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.'"
Saturday was relatively uneventful for the disciples. Their Savior was dead. Luke tells us, "On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment." Surely they were emotionally drained and distraught.
But while the disciples rested, the chief priests and Pharisees plotted. They remembered Jesus' claim, "'After three days I will rise,'" so they urged Pilate to secure the tomb lest Jesus' body be stolen. Pilate complied with their request and ordered the tomb sealed and guarded.
I wonder though if Pilate had some secret concerns. He wasn't excited about crucifying Jesus. His wife had sternly warned him and he found no guilt in Jesus. Maybe he had a hunch that the thousand pound stone wouldn't work.
That stone may serve as an impressive symbol of unbelieving man's herculean efforts to suppress the truth of the gospel in unrighteousness. Unregenerate people are forever concocting arguments and espousing philosophies to debunk the resurrection. They strive to make their views secure, solid, coherent, and irrefutable. Not too many years ago Bishop Spong said, "I couldn't be more excited about the future of the Christian faith, but it will be a different faith." He went on to describe traditional faith as suffering a "last gasp death-rattle in a world explained by Darwin, not Deuteronomy."
But with all due respect, he was wrong. The stone could not contain the Savior. The chief priests could not suppress the truth. The guards could not resist the angel. And to this day neither liberal theologians nor pagan philosophers nor the gates of hell can resist the risen King who quietly but relentlessly builds His church.
I'm sure that particular Saturday lasted 24 hours like every other day. But for the resting disciples it must have been the longest 24 hours in history! If Jesus had not come out of that tomb, we would be of all men the most to be pitied. But He did come out and in so doing defeated sin, conquered death, and opened Paradise. I don't hear any death-rattle, do you? "Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Christ has burst the gates of hell; death in vain forbids Him rise, Christ has open Paradise!"
P.S. Here is a little music from our cowboy friends in Montana, Peter and Gracie Rosenberger, to cheer your soul.