The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” Matthew 28:12–14
The Lord of all rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, making it possible for us all to share in His glorious Resurrection! Death had lost. Satan had lost. The corrupt religious leaders had lost. And all those who believed in Jesus now had their eternal hope renewed. Sadly, though, what was the greatest victory ever known for humanity, a victory that opened the doors to eternal glory for all who believe, could not be accepted by the chief priests and elders of the people. They saw to His death, and, now that He had risen, they scrambled to do all they could to hide that truth.
Pride is hard to overcome. When a person professes they are right, when in fact they are wrong, and when they are then confronted with their error, the sin of pride will inevitably tempt them to further sin. This is what we see today in this passage from our Gospel. The chief priests and elders were informed by the soldiers that when the women came to the tomb early in the morning, there was a great earthquake, and they saw an angel of the Lord descend from Heaven, roll back the stone, and sit on it. When they saw this, “The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4). And after they heard the angel tell the women that Jesus had risen, the guards went off to tell the chief priests and elders.
After all the miracles and powerful preaching of Jesus, you would think that the chief priests and elders would have believed. But they didn’t. And then, after hearing the testimony of these soldiers, you would think they would have fallen on their knees, repented of their hardness of hearts, and come to believe. But they didn’t. They doubled down in their sin and added sin upon sin.
Some forms of sin can more easily be admitted, especially sins of weakness. When one is weak and falls, it may not be always easy to overcome that sin in the future, but it is easier to acknowledge it as sin when it is caused by human weakness. But a sin of weakness is much different than a sin of obstinate pride. Obstinate pride is not only hard to overcome, it’s hard to admit. It’s hard to admit our sin when it is based on our obstinacy and pride. As a result, this type of sin often leads to other sins such as ongoing deception, manipulation and anger. This is illustrated by these chief priests and elders. But if you can humble yourself and admit your sin when it comes from your pride, that humility can have a powerful and transformative effect upon your life.
Reflect, today, upon these chief priests and elders of the people. Try to ponder their hardness of heart and the sad situation they found themselves in as they attempted to cover up their error and sin. Resolve never to fall into this form of sin yourself. However, if this is a struggle for you, seek humility so that you can be freed of this heavy burden by the grace of the Resurrection of our Lord.
My resurrected Lord, You conquered sin and death and brought forth new life for all who believe in You. Give me the grace, dear Jesus, to never allow my sin of pride to keep me from being open to the glorious and transforming action You desire to do in my life. Please give me the gift of humility so that I may always turn from my sin and turn to You. Jesus, I trust in You.