The Scriptorium

More Lies

Trapped in the lie, they couldn't help but lie. Matthew 28.11-15

Matthew 28: Risen! (4)

Pray Psalm 12.1, 2.
Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

Sing Psalm 12.1, 2.
(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Help, Lord! The godly cease to be; they who believe in Christ are few.
Falsely the wicked confidently flatter, deceive, and mock Your truth.

Matthew 28.1-15; meditate on verses 11-15.

1. How did the chief priests respond to the guard’s report?

2. What did the guard do then?

We are not surprised by this reaction of the chief priests to the report of the guards. What did the guard report? An earthquake. A bright light. An angel. The stone rolled away and the tomb vacant. These men were eyewitnesses to the resurrection, and the chief priests – who would not believe Moses and the prophets when they wrote about Jesus – didn’t believe these guards, either (cf. Lk. 16.29-31).

But it wasn’t enough that the chief priests refused to believe; they didn’t want anyone else to believe either. So they bribed the guards and promised to cover their backs “if this comes to the governor’s ears”. If? It is a measure of their blindness, and of the power of the lie, that these priests could not even begin to understand the ramifications of that empty tomb. Not only would the governor hear of it, the whole world would!

What a stupid excuse: “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.” The least bright student in Logic 101 would be able to expose the ludicrousness of this excuse. First, the disciples, who had all fled Jesus and were in hiding somewhere, managed to screw up the courage and marshal the strength to roll away the stone and take Jesus’ body away, without waking any of the Roman guard? It’s helpful to remember that Roman guards tended to be extremely vigilant, because their lives might be at stake if they failed in their assignment (cf. Acts 12.19).

And what would the disciples have had in mind? Reburying the body somewhere else, then standing forth boldly to declare that He was alive? Oh yeah, that’s believable.

Second, our logic student might ask, If the guards were asleep, how would they know the disciples had come and done this?

Yeah. Dumb. And this was not just the chief priests, but the entire counsel of elders that concocted this ridiculous explanation for the empty tomb (v. 12).

But it worked, because “this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.” And not just among the Jews. People will believe whatever they want to, as ludicrous as it may be, so long as it allows them not to believe in Jesus and the resurrection.

1. What excuses have you heard people give for not believing in Jesus and the resurrection?

2. Why is the lie (Rom. 1.18-25) so blinding? How can we keep from falling under the sway of the lie?

3. How can you see that the lie has compounding effects among like-minded people?

How could they have stolen him? O most foolish of all men! They can’t even lie plausibly! The conspicuousness of the truth highlights their falsehood. For indeed what they said after the bribe was extremely farfetched. Their falsehood did not even have the ring of plausibility. For how, I ask, could the disciples have stolen him? They were poor and unlearned. They were hiding out at this time, not even venturing to show themselves.
John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew 90.1

Lord Jesus, You are alive! Live through me today, Jesus, so that I…

Pray Psalm 12.3-8.
Ask God to prepare you for the day ahead, that you will not be deceived nor led astray from Jesus by the lies of the enemy.

Sing Psalm 12.3-8.
Psalm 12.3-8 (Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Stop, Lord, the lips that utter lies, all those who speak with boasting tongue!
See how Your holy Word they despise, while their own praises they have sung.

Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all Your precious children sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call; grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.

Your words are pure and proven true, like silver seven times refined.
You will preserve Your Word ever new, and keep the heart to You inclined.

Proudly the wicked strut and stand; Your indignation builds on high.
Men may exalt their wicked plans, but You will judge them by and by.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore