TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH R.C. SPROUL


TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH R.C. SPROUL

Christ’s Tomb Is
Sealed
=======================
Matthew 27:62–66 “So they went and made the
tomb secure by sealing the stone
and setting a guard” (v. 66).

If we
had any doubt that Pilate had Jesus executed to prevent a riot, rather
than
because Christ was guilty of attempting to overthrow Rome (Matt.
27:11–26),
the circumstances of our Lord’s burial prove that the governor
believed Jesus
was innocent as charged. Most crucified victims in ancient Rome
were left on
the cross even after they were dead, and the elements and the
animals took
care of the mess that was left. It was not unusual, however, for
Roman
authorities to grant the body of a crucified person to his friends or
family,
provided he was not guilty of high treason. Pilate evidently did not
think
Jesus was guilty, otherwise he would not have given Christ’s body to
Joseph
of Arimathea (vv. 57–60).

Like many other first-century Jerusalemites,
Jesus was buried outside the city
in a cave hewn in a limestone hill. The
“great stone” (v. 60) that sealed His
gravesite was set on an incline in a
channel cut in the rock, making it easier
to cover the tomb by rolling the
stone downhill. It took several men to roll
the stone back up the incline,
which discouraged grave robbers and wild
animals from trying to enter the
tomb. This refutes any theory that Jesus
swooned, and, not having died,
regained consciousness and rolled the stone
away Himself.

Other
details that corroborate the historicity of the resurrection are the
seal and
contingent of soldiers placed at the entrance to the tomb (vv.
62–66). The
seal was a soft, moldable substance, probably clay, that was
imprinted with
the Roman imperial seal and attached to the stone with a rope.
Breaking the
seal would incur the Empire’s wrath — if someone could get past
the
guards.

The heavy stone should have been good enough for the religious
authorities,
but their paranoia that a story might circulate about a
resurrected Jesus
prompted them to seal His grave. They took these extra
measures to prevent the
theft of Jesus’ body, so fearful were they of losing
their esteem. Yet
ironically, we find proof of Christ’s resurrection in that
their deeds were
overcome. The timid disciples surely could not have broken
through the guards
and seal. Jerome aptly writes, “The greater their
precautionary care, the more
fully is revealed the power of the resurrection”
(Commentary on Matthew,
4.27.64).

Coram deo: Living before the face of
God
========================================
The death and resurrection of
our Lord Jesus Christ is not a myth invented by
His disciples. He really died
and He really rose again. There are many
plausible arguments for the
resurrection of Jesus, and many Christian
apologists have put together
helpful presentations of these details. This
week, try to find a good
resource on the evidence for the resurrection and arm
yourself to defend its
historicity should an opportunity ever present itself.

For further
study:

Luke 1:1–4

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