In the bible we read many stories of people trying to do things that go against God’s plan… but in the end they prove useless. Here in Matthew 27 we read of Pilate’s useless attempts against Jesus’ resurrection power.
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
Have you ever looked back and remembered doing something so useless that you can’t believe you actually did it in the first place? Once, many years ago, I was babysitting three kids from church. It came time for bed, and as I was tucking the youngest in, the oldest daughter came up to me and said, “We usually put a tea towel under my sister in case she wets the bed during the night.”
“What’s a tea towel going to do?” I thought, “But, if that’s what they usually do, I guess it’ll help.”
Eventually, the kids fell asleep, and a few hours later, the parents came home. The father went in to check on the children, and came out with a confused look on his face. “Why’s there a tea towel under the little one?”
Looking back, it seems ridiculous. If she was going to wet the bed, the flimsy tea towel laid out under her would be useless. But at the time, I was somehow convinced that it would be able to prevent a catastrophe.
Although it may not seem like it at first glance, Pilate’s actions in Matthew 27 are equally as ridiculous. In his lifetime, Jesus had proven his power by performing many miracles, and prior to his death, he had said that he would die and then rise to life three days later. He had shown that he had authority over all creation, including death. And yet, Pilate thought a guard and a seal on a stone would stand against Jesus. Pilate placed what was, in effect, a tea towel against Jesus’ resurrection power.
For a moment, Pilate may have had confidence that his plan had worked. But we soon see that anything standing against God is as useless as a tea towel against a flood. Because, as he said he would, Jesus rose to life three days later. Nothing could stop God from fulfilling his promises and achieving his plan of salvation. And it brings me great assurance knowing that same all-powerful God, whose plans cannot be thwarted, is the one who holds my life day-by-day.
Head: Can you think of any situation that you think God is not powerful enough to work in?
Heart: What difference does it make to your trust in God’s plans knowing that he could overcome Pilate’s “secure” plan?
Hands: What do you do in your life that resists God’s plans and purposes? What would help you refresh your trust in God’s plan for your life?
Prayer: Our God, we are so sorry that we often try to shy away from your plans or resist the opportunities you put in front of us. Thank you that Jesus’ power could not be overcome by any opposition, but that he went to the cross, died for our forgiveness and then rose again. We are in awe when we consider your power. Help us to rest in confidence that your plans will prevail. Lord, comfort our hearts in your might. Amen.
A song to listen to: This is Amazing Grace https://open.spotify.com/track/3GyxrDr1uGOErfOAnaAPhG