The Burial of Jesus
"As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching."
The Guard at the Tomb
"The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.
Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it."
Pilate’s words hang heavy in the air at the end of this passage. “Secure it the best you can.”
What is Pilate thinking at that moment?
This was a man who had pronounced to the Jewish leaders he could find no fault in Jesus. He tried to wash his hands of their sham trial and condemnation. Could he be as uneasy as the accusers?
Imagine what it must have been like to be Pilate looking into the eyes of Jesus. Thousands of others who looked into those eyes were transformed. Was Pilate curious as well?
His wife had warned him about getting involved. Something was very different about this man.
Was he hopeful that Jesus really was who he claimed to be? Was his gut telling him there was no way Jesus would be contained? He had seen the look on Jesus’ face; not dignifying accusations with a response, only acknowledging Pilate to confirm, “It is as you say” when asked if he was king of the Jews.
We will never know the truth of Pilate’s heart. But we do know, the efforts to contain Jesus in the tomb were in vain. The government sealed the tomb with official seals and cords. They stationed hardened Roman soldiers outside the stone. They took every worldly precaution. They did their best to contain God. But, alas, he cannot be contained.
Sit quietly for a few moments and reread this passage.
Imagine the pressure Pilate must have been under to keep order in his region. Fear was his downfall.
Now imagine the scene of Pilate looking into the eyes of Jesus in those last hours.
What do you think he saw?
What do you see?
Gracious God, unjust trials, betrayal, and death cannot contain you. We are so grateful you overcame it all. Show me where I limit you. Thank you for being the God who cannot be contained.