The irony of it all

A great irony in all of this is that the guards were posted and the tomb sealed with the large stone so that there would not be a deception about a resurrection following the burial. Now it is clear that it is the chief priests who have devised the deception.

The point made by the opposition between being raised (27:63b, 64b) and stealing the body (27:64) – two actions that would result in an empty tomb – simply contrasts what God and human beings can do. God alone can fulfill what has been announced by Jesus: “After three days I will rise again.” Acting on their own, human beings perform only fraudulent actions, as reflected by the use of the verb “to steal.” Similarly, the opposition between sealing the stone (27:66) and rolling back the stone (28:2) contrasts divine action with human action. The earthquake manifests the character of God’s power, while the description of the “angel of the Lord” descending “from heaven” (28:2) makes clear what is the origin of this power. All that human beings can do is attempt to safeguard a situation as it stands, to preserve the status quo, a futile attempt because God’s intervention is of an earth-shaking proportion, and intervention that shatters the status quo.

In sum, these two oppositions underscore that human beings by themselves can only do two things: they can either transform a situation in a fraudulent manner or strive to maintain the status quo. In contrast, God through his intervention radically transforms a situation and shatters the status quo. In short, the resurrection can be understood and accepted only insofar as one abandons a human perspective, which can lead one either to contradict the will of God (as stealing does) or to refuse God’s intervention by striving to maintain the status quo that it would shatter.

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