Jesus’ Tomb Is Sealed and Guarded

62 The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said, ‘After three days I will be raised up.’ 64 Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This last imposture would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” 66 So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard. (27:62-66)

These final verses begin a new day. The guard, so important in Matthew’s account of the resurrection, are not mentioned in the other Gospels. His reason for mentioning them is presumably that a story about the disciples stealing Jesus’ body was being used to discredit Christian claims; Justin says that such stories were still being actively disseminated in the middle of the second century (Dial. 108). The fact of such propaganda in itself indicates that it could not be denied that the tomb was empty; what was questioned was how it came to be empty.

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