Burial of Jesus

TEXT: MATTHEW 27:57-66

Matthew divides the burial into two parts: The wrapping of Jesus' body and placement into a tomb, and the setting of a Roman guard by the tomb to watch for body snatchers.

Only in Matthew do we see the guarding of the tomb by a Roman soldier. But it was, and is, important that at least one of the Gospel writers bring out that point.

 

WHY A GUARDED TOMB IS IMPORTANT

Matthew's account of a Roman guard at the tomb of Jesus is important to the Gospel story, because the Holy Spirit knew that, throughout history, men would question if Jesus was even resurrected. Without the account, men could claim, as the chief priests and Pharisees had before Pilate (REFERENCE: Matthew 27:62-66), that Jesus' body could have just been stolen and that Christ had not been resurrected at all.

Even in our own time, some have claimed that Christ did not die on the cross, even though the Bible, and the Romans, clearly state that his side was pierced by a Roman spear and that blood mixed with water flowed from the wound - a sure medical validation of death (REFERENCE: John 19:34-35).

The account details that Roman governor Pilate ordered that a soldier be placed to guard the tomb. Since the Romans kept meticulous records, that fact could be verified by scoffers of the Resurrection.

Whether it was the religious Jewish leaders or future scoffers, the argument against the resurrection of Christ goes like this: "No body, no evidence. No evidence, no resurrection. No resurrection, no Messiah. No Messiah, no salvation."

Matthew's account verifies that there was a body, it belonged to Jesus, it was laid in a tomb with a large stone rolled in front of the grave and that a Roman soldier had guarded the tomb after the body was placed in that grave. And that Roman guard posted there would prevent someone from stealing the body, and to stop body snatchers with weapons.