“Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.” (Matthew 28:63)
The disciples may have forgotten that Jesus promised to rise on the third day—but His enemies didn’t.
They feared that Jesus’ disciples might try to fulfill His prophecy themselves by stealing His body from the tomb sometime during the three days after His death. They thought this because they themselves would have used such deception to their own ends. But as it turned out, the disciples had gone into seclusion to mourn the death of Jesus, and, no doubt, ponder their own fates.
In reality, all these religious leaders managed to do was add even more credibility to the Resurrection. Verse sixty-six says they “made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch.” They were doing what the great escape artist, Harry Houdini, used to do: make an escape humanly (it would seem) impossible, to make his final getaway even more spectacular. We know from verse eleven that the garden tomb was watched day and night until the third day; and when they ran to tell the elders that in spite of all their precautions, Jesus had indeed raised from the dead, they had to go to Plan B. The soldiers were paid to lie and say the disciples had stolen His body away.
And from that day to this, you can be sure anyone who says Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead is still a liar.
My burden today, however, is not the conduct of the enemies of Jesus, but His disciples. Whether they had forgotten about His promise to raise on the third day, or just that they thought it was too good to be true, the fact remains, they spent three days of needless grief and despair because they were not sure Jesus could (or would) do what He promised. They had seen Him raise Lazarus after four days, yet they doubted He could break the chains of death Himself. Those around the Cross had said, “He saved others, himself he cannot saved” (Matt.27:42). Perhaps they thought, “He raised others; Himself He cannot raise.” We know, of course, that their doubt turned to belief and joy when they saw their risen, conquering Savior. So, as they say, “All’s well that ends well.”
But what about you and me? Are we guilty, as the disciples, of “forgetting” the promises of God to the point of living fruitless, defeated lives? Are we like the disciples on the Emmaus road walking with the risen Lord, yet sad of heart? Of all the promises Jesus made, none was greater, or more seemingly impossible, than His promise to rise on the third day. If He could do that, He can do anything.
And don’t you forget it!