God Does Not Deceive
11 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. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 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.
Honor in Honesty
The guards who had witnessed the angels opening the tomb that held our savior first did the right thing: they told the truth to the chief priests. This is interesting, insofar as they were Roman soldiers, and should have reported this to their commanding officer. While the Bible doesn’t say why they went to the chief priests first, it is a fairly goo assumption that the presence and power of angels at the tomb both enthralled and frightened them. It is most likely that they sought to understand what they had experienced, and sought out the experts in this area, the chief priests. God does not like deception, but honors those who tell the truth. The guards, fearing for their lives, went to the priests first and did what was right: they told the truth. And what an interesting story came out of that meeting.
Paid to Perjure
Imagine the surprise of the guards who went to the chief priests of the Jews with their story. Imagine being told that you were believed, but that you needed to cover up the truth. Not only that, but a large bribe was provided to ensure that you perjured yourself. And not only were you asked to perjure yourself, you were told that you needed to admit that you had failed to complete your duties (in this case, sleeping on the job)? This was unconscionable, and could have caused the soldiers to lose their lives.
Not only were they asked to falsify their account, they were asked to say that they were incompetent, and that a bunch of unarmed fishermen were able to somehow overcome them to be able to steal away the body. Although corruption may have been occurring, it was coming from the very highest ranked people who were charged with teaching and modelling God’s law – the chief priests. Jesus rightly called them a brood of vipers, and whitewashed tombs with dead men’s bones inside.
The soldiers were promised that if the report of their false story were to come up to the governor, they would satisfy him as well. Imagine being a soldier and being told that your Commander-in-Chief would be bought off. Perhaps it was the money or the disgrace, but the soldiers did what was asked of them. And Paul rightly condemned this type of behavior:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness
Jesus said that these people were of their father, the devil, and that they spoke his native tongue – lying:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I honoring God with my speech?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have shown us Your character is perfect through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to remember this when I am placed in difficult circumstances and asked to do what is wrong. Give me the courage to stand up for the truth, and to accept whatever consequences come from it. Guard my heart as I stand for You. Prepare me to be a holy vessel, set apart from sin and dedicated to You. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.