They slept, who should have guarded,
And watched over his tomb,
But he 'rose up' and none did see
His rebirth from this womb,
His spirit graced the garden,
His final act was done,
He was 'The Resurrection'
His victory had been won.
- By Ernestine Northover
What happened to those Soldiers?!
The Gospel of Matthew tells us in the Resurrection account (27:62-28:15) that they were instructed by Pilate to guard the tomb where Jesus lay, and that they were sort of on loan to the High Priest for this duty. This explains why they would report to the High Priest before going back to Pilate, but what happened to them?
Matthew also tells us that the Soldiers became like “dead men” when the Angel appeared to roll back the stone. The Soldiers told this to the High Priest, who instructed them to lie to Pilate and say they were asleep. It is possible that this was a “sleeping post” (a common designation in the military), and that they were first roused by the Angel and then passed out. This explanation makes sense because if it was not a sleeping post and they reported that they fell asleep, they would be executed for dereliction of duty.
So, why did the Soldiers react to the Angel in this way? To put it simply, they were pagans, they believed in the Roman gods. Their response to an Angel from Heaven was based on an expectation of vengeance or oppression from an unpredictable god. Thus, they were unable to accept God’s emissary and so recoiled in terror for their lives.
Our God is an awesome God! God constantly reaches out to us and calls us each by name, inviting us into God’s-self. The Resurrection is a miraculous witness and invitation to us! In truth, God shows us the WAY every day, in so many ways as to boggle the mind.
The Scripture calls out to you as a living Word, leading you deeper into the heart and mind of God. When we read and study Scripture, we get a better picture of God’s action and presence in our lives and are more able to recognize God—or the emissaries of God. The key to knowing God is knowing, recognizing, and expecting God to be God.
Your Bible is there. God wants to be known!
Peace in Christ,
Father Bill Burk†