Matthew 28:11–13 (MEV): While they were going, indeed, some of the soldiers went into the city and described to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests were assembled with the elders and had taken counsel, they gave much money to the soldiers, saying, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were sleeping.’
The chief priests concocted a story that would explain away the resurrection. They wanted everyone to believe it. In fact, you’ve probably heard same story today. A body has never been produced, and there were plenty of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus die and saw Him after death when He rose again.
This isn’t about the resurrection, per se.
Given the bit of information here, it is hard to assertion whether the soldiers were Roman soldiers or temple guards. Personally, I don’t think they were. Here’s why.
Matthew 27:62–64 (MEV): The next day, following the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered before Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that deceiver saying while He was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ The last deception will be worse than the first.”
The leaders the Jesus folk approached Pilate. They asked him to secure the grave hoping to continue to have Rome’s participation. They also laid the groundwork for the story they wanted people to believe.
Remember also a previous post I’ve made about how the disciples didn’t really believe the resurrection was to happen. At least they didn’t understand. But they savvy priests and Pharisees did understand.
They hoped to establish Jesus as the liar and wanted others to believe that, too. Even as they were laying the foundation for the real deception.
Here is Pilate’s answer.
Matthew 27:65–66 (MEV): Pilate said to them, “You have a guard. Go your way. Make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and posting the guard.
It’s clear that a Jewish guard was used. It is also clear that the Jewish leaders sealed the stone.
I find those facts fascinating.
Matthew 28:14–15 (MEV): If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this saying has been commonly reported among the Jews to this day.
The priests would make sure the guards would have no repercussions. They bribed them. The Jewish guards told the story.
I think that last sentence is a bit prophetic, as many believe it today… With absolutely no evidence. Especially with the save of evidence to the contrary.
But the glaring question in the story, how could supposedly sleeping guards watch a body being stolen by His disciples?