"Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise.' 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." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can."—Mat 27:63-65 ESV
We can expect to experience a healthy dose of doubt when we are confronted with incredible ideas. This happens as we evaluate what is set before us. It is for our protection. However, the Pharisees remained stuck in doubt. How can we move from doubt to faith, love and action when we come face to face with God’s word and His work? Let us for a moment try to understand the mindset of the Pharisees and ask ourselves a few important questions. I think we might learn something about ourselves.
1. Do I accept Jesus’ message or am I just outwardly conforming?
The message of salvation through Jesus Christ is disruptive because it challenges its hearers to change from a morality of blind, outward conformity to the freedom of a life of love for God and others. In Matthew 27:64, we see the Pharisees attempting to prove that Jesus was a deceiver. Even after they crucified Him, they wanted to discredit His message and dismantle His movement, because Jesus’ words exposed the rottenness of their religious establishment. We may not have participated in Jesus’ crucifixion, but our piety is often betrayed by our cruelty to others. Let us pause and ask ourselves,
In what ways do I find it difficult to express love for God and others?
How is my self-will and lack of love demonstrated to others?
2. Am I genuinely seeking God’s will or secretly pursuing my agenda?
Some may have remained unconvinced about God’s love even after witnessing Jesus’ miracles and teachings. Jesus’ death was absolute proof of God’s love for us and His resurrection revealed He was the Son of God and the Messiah (1Corinthians 15:17). But their own duplicity blinded the Pharisees.
They thought they had discredited Jesus by crucifying and burying Him. We soon realise, that the empty tomb, the report of the soldiers and other witnesses were not enough to change their hearts or their minds. They were still not willing to accept the truth. Reflect:
What has God done recently to show me His love?
What secret sin do I harbour that prevents me from fully accepting God’s love?
3. Am I willing to trust and obey God or will I deny Him and His word?
The chief priests conspired to hide the fact of the resurrection through bribery and lies (Matthew 28:13). Even today, we wrestle against lies, contrary ideologies, and diluted beliefs. These threaten the spread of the good news of Jesus’ sacrifice for sin, His death, His resurrection, His ascension into heaven and His soon return for His glorious Church. Jesus did what He said He would do. This meant that everything He taught and promised was true. It is through His resurrection that we can experience the eternal life He promised.
After His resurrection, Jesus came to His disciples and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:18-20 ESV) Reflect:
Will I respond to the good news of the Messiah by concealing it or by telling someone else?
What barriers must I overcome to share the love of Jesus Christ with others?
What do I need to do to overcome these barriers?
God by His Spirit can help us move from doubt to genuine faith, from self-will to love, and from reluctance to joyful obedience. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)