TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH R.C. SPROUL


TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH R.C. SPROUL

The Guards Sell Their
Souls
===========================
Matthew 28:11–15 “They took the money
and did as they were directed. And this
story has been spread among the Jews
to this day” (v. 15).

Regarding the resurrection of our Lord, it is
ironic that the thing the
Sanhedrin tried to prevent with the placing of a
guard became the story they
made up to hide what really happened. The
Pharisees and chief priests had
Pilate seal Jesus’ tomb so that His disciples
would not steal His body and
claim that He rose from the dead (Matt.
27:62–66). Yet when Jesus was
resurrected (28:1–10), His opponents did not
repent; rather, they concocted a
tale of theft to deceive Israel (vv. 11–15),
preferring to save face instead
of admitting the truth.

Many enemies
of Christianity still say the disciples stole Jesus’ body and
fraudulently
preached His resurrection, an assertion that is filled with
holes. The theory originates in the tall tale for which the soldiers were paid
hush money (vv.
12–15); but how could sleeping soldiers have known what
happened to the body?
Furthermore, the disciples at this point were merely
trying to save their own
skins (26:56; John 20:19). John Chrysostom writes,
“These were men hiding out
to simply stay alive” (Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers, first series, vol. 10,
p. 530), not those who would risk arrest and
execution for robbing a
grave.

If they made up the resurrection, why did the apostles not cover
up their
unfaithfulness at the point of our Lord’s death? Passages like
Matthew 26:56,
69–75 show that the apostles report the truth even when it
hurts and refuse to
concoct stories to make themselves look good; loving
truth, they “determined
not to conceal even their own shortcomings”
(Chrysostom, p. 531). Moreover,
the record of women as the first to see the
resurrection (Matt. 28:1–10)
strongly corroborates the account’s accuracy.
First-century Jews thought women
were untrustworthy witnesses, and recording
them as the first to see the risen
Lord was not the best way to prove that
Jesus rose from the dead. Making men
the first witnesses of the resurrection
would be an easier way to convince
readers; that the apostles do not do this
reveals that they are not out to
deceive us.

Matthew Henry says that
the best evidence will not convince people unless the
Holy Spirit is working
within them. Like the soldiers who guarded Jesus’
grave, we will readily sell
our souls for a lie if the Spirit does not
intervene.

Coram deo:
Living before the face of
God
========================================
Most of us are probably not
guilty of accepting payment to make up a lie about
the Christ. However, all
of us are tempted in various ways to sell our souls
at the expense of
broadcasting the truth. Perhaps we keep silent at work so
that we can get
that promotion. Maybe we never preach the gospel to our
neighbors because we
do not want to be ridiculed. Ask the Lord to enable you
to stand firm for His
gospel no matter the consequences.

For further study:

Exodus
23:8

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