Goods over God
AUDIO: Listen to the audio version of this post HERE.
Matthew 28:11-15 (NCV)
While the women went to tell Jesus’ followers, some of the soldiers who had been guarding the tomb went into the city to tell the leading priests everything that had happened. 12 Then the priests met with the elders and made a plan. They paid the soldiers a large amount of money 13 and said to them, “Tell the people that Jesus’ followers came during the night and stole the body while you were asleep. 14 If the governor hears about this, we will satisfy him and save you from trouble.” 15 So the soldiers kept the money and did as they were told. And that story is still spread among the people even today.
During the events recorded for the Resurrection of Christ, we read in Matt. 28:4 (NCV), “The soldiers guarding the tomb shook with fear…” So, we know that the soldiers were most definitely present, fully awake and emotionally impacted by the presence of the angel who appeared before them. You would think an event like this would “scare a person silly” and “knock some sense” into them. You would think these men would even perhaps become devoted followers of Christ after witnessing this extraordinary visitation by a Heavenly being.
However, that was not the case. Whatever spiritual impact these men felt was weighed down and squashed by bags of money. In verses 12-13 of the subject passage, we read that the Jewish religious “authorities” bribed the soldiers with a large sum of money to LIE about their encounter… to say that they DID NOT see an angel and that the disciples had, in fact, stolen the corpse of Jesus while these soldiers were sleeping on the job! In verse 14, the leaders promise the soldiers to cover for the soldiers when the governor wants their heads. I do not know what actually happened to these soldiers, but I cannot imagine the Jewish leaders being able to actually convince a Roman authority figure to not punish the Roman soldiers for allegedly falling asleep at their post… particularly for this high profile post. I cannot help but think that these soldiers were put to death for this lie, but I do not know this for a fact.
Anyway, the point I would like to make is in the fact that these soldiers were actually able to BE persuaded to testify against what they saw and heard for themselves. The Jewish religious leaders were already spiritually corrupt, as was previously discussed in the blog post entitled “Religious Rejection of Jesus’ Authority“. They did not care that Jesus WAS God… they only cared about the perception of their temporary position of authority! Therefore, the Jewish leaders were already operating from a depraved state of mind. The Roman soldiers, though, were given a front seat to confirmation of Jesus’ divinity, without the predisposition of having a depraved mindset. They could have chosen to hold on to this newfound belief and rather trust in the One who had power over death! However, the soldiers chose money over a miracle… coinage and currency over Christ!
There is another example given in the Bible of this principle. The story of “The Rich Man and Lazarus”, found in Luke 16:19-31, details an exchange between Abraham and the unnamed “rich man”, who had died and opened his eyes in hell. As recorded in verses 27-31,
27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”
As sad as it may be, for some people, no miracle (not even resurrection from the dead) can hold enough persuasion power over the jingle of a pocket or the bursting of a bank account. As tempting as they may be…
No good can come from “Goods over God“!