“Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”
Pilate had endured many strange experiences leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. Both he and some close to him (v. 19) had wanted to release Him, finding no fault in Him (v. 23). But, for political expediency, willing to pacify the Jewish leaders and quell a potential riot, Pilate had agreed to the execution. But once Christ was dead and in the grave, Pilate’s troubles did not end.
Perhaps we are justified in reading a tone of sarcasm and impatience in Pilate’s words “make it as sure as you can.” What is there to fear from a dead man? Guard the tomb if you want. But just perhaps Pilate was hounded by unexplained doubts; maybe a guard could prevent the bizarre fears from becoming reality.
From our perspective, however, we can see divine irony in these words. Satan had seemingly won a great victory on the cross, for the Heir had been slain. Thus, the one act which he had to prevent was that of the actual resurrection, for all of Christ’s message depended on His victory over death.
Note the limitation in the words “as sure as you can.” How tightly sealed and well-guarded must a tomb be to contain the Creator of all things? If His purpose was to die and rise from the dead, would man’s or Satan’s efforts be able to thwart it? “As sure as you can” was surely not sure enough!
Today we know that the tomb’s sealed entrance was breached, not so much to allow Him out, but to allow us to see inside. Satan’s henchmen still deny the resurrection, but their efforts are just as futile as those who tried to keep Him inside. The fact remains, He left the tomb, triumphantly offering eternal life to all who believe! JDM