Matthew 27:57-66 (ESV)
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
Jesus died while on the cross. Proper burial and treatment of the dead were very important to the Jews, but when a criminal was executed, the body was often tossed away. But that’s not what happened with Jesus’ body. A rich man named Joseph from Arimathea, a Jewish religious leader who believed in Jesus, asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. This Joseph must have been an important man, given his ability to access Pilate directly. Pilate agreed to his request, and Joseph took Jesus’ body off the cross to properly prepare the corpse for burial, according to the custom of the day. It is interesting that Jesus’ family and close friends didn’t do this. Joseph then put the body in a rock tomb he owned and rolled a stone in front of it, which was how these tombs were typically closed. Jesus’ enemies continued to work as well. The chief priests and the Pharisees also went to Pilate. They remembered Jesus said he would rise from the dead. They assumed he intended deception, and that his followers would figure out a way to trick people. They wanted security standing by the tomb’s entrance. That way, after three days, they could prove the corpse was still there. Pilate agreed again to their request, and the religious leaders did whatever they could to make the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard there. They could rest now, knowing that no one could reach the body of Jesus.
Little did the enemies of Jesus realize, in the end, they were helping his cause! When Jesus did actually rise from the dead, because of the intense security, no one would be able to say his disciples did it. Pilate provided guards to stand by the tomb, and to top it off they sealed it with a Roman seal, using wax so that no one could tamper with anything. God used the plans of his enemies to carry out his purposes. Do you ever feel discouraged by those who plot or scheme against you? Do you feel like God’s agenda will not be accomplished because of the efforts of his enemies? Even though things may seem crazy at times, we can rest assured, knowing that God’s hands are not tied. God is able to take every single thing and work it together for good for the followers of Christ. Take comfort in this truth today as you struggle against the sin around you.