>While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. Matthew 28:11-15

While Jesus’ followers were scrambling to find Him, His enemies were scrambling to cover it up. The religious leaders really didn’t know what to do. Who broke the seal on the tomb? Who rolled away the stone? Who got passed all of those soldiers? It really didn’t matter to them. They just needed the Sanhedrin’s publicist to get to work.

A lot of hush money was doled out that day. Soldiers had witnessed such a powerful force that they had fainted (Matthew 28:2-4). Now they accepted the payment and willing lied to protect the establishment and to save their own necks.

The religious leaders didn’t experience some glimmer of hope that maybe Jesus was the Messiah after all. This Messiah was inconvenient. This Messiah irritated them. This Messiah didn’t fit into their expectations of what and who a Messiah should be. While they didn’t know for sure what had happened, they were certain that this wasn’t a resurrection. Their minds couldn’t even allow the thought.

They paid off the guards simply because they didn’t want any more trouble. The guards didn’t want trouble either.

Sometimes people think, “Oh, if I had just lived back then, it would be easier to believe. If I could have witnessed these things for myself, then I would have the proof I need.” The guards and the leaders had proof, but they lacked faith. If you’re spiritually blind, you’re spiritually blind. Proof doesn’t give spiritual sight. Faith does.

The cure to spiritual blindness is not proof. The cure is belief in God — to just take that first step and pray to “the God that I have yet to believe in.”

The religious leaders were threatened by Jesus. He didn’t neatly fit into their system. They trusted in their heritage and their institutions for salvation. They really had no room for a Savior. Their pride prevented them from accepting Jesus.

The guards were frightened and confused. They were Romans. They didn’t know anything about a coming Messiah, except for all of the trouble they had to deal with. They needed job security. They needed an explanation. Their ignorance prevented them from witnessing the power of the resurrection.

On that day, the religious leaders and the guards invented a hoax. They chose to nurture their hurt and their hate rather than opt for health. People are still doing that today. They relegate Jesus to the category of “Good Teacher,” but Jesus proclaimed some pretty outrageous things. If He wasn’t the Messiah, He went well beyond what a “Good Teacher” would teach. Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus can really only be one of three things: A Liar, A Lunatic, or the Lord. Which one is He to you?