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'A Year with Jesus' for 3/19/2014

'Better Off Leaving Him Alive'

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker,

One of the more bewildering requests Pilate received during the whole ordeal of My trials, crucifixion, and burial was the strange request by the chief priests and the Pharisees:

So please order someone to secure the tomb for at least three days. Otherwise His disciples might sneak in and steal his body away, and then claim that He has been raised from the dead.

Here are the realities of the situation. My disciples were scared they would be the next to die and so they were locked away in an upper story room hiding from the authorities. They weren't going to steal any body. They were just trying to stay alive and trying to figure out what to do next!

The concern about their stealing My body was ludicrous. Even more ludicrous was the posting of a guard at the tomb of someone who is dead. If the deceased can make himself alive again, you have a lot bigger problem than a few guards at the entrance of a tomb could ever handle!

Just as My body lay still in the grave, those who crucified Me were about to ensure that their greatest fears would be realized. What were those fears? Matthew's words capture them powerfully. If My disciples believed that I was raised from the dead, then these religious leaders "would have been better off just leaving Him [Me] alive." A wonder-working Messiah was hard enough to oppose. How do you stop people who truly believe their Messiah had been unmercifully and brutally executed and then was raised from the dead by the power of God? As you now know nearly two thousand years later, you can't stop such "resurrection-believing" people!

All the schemes, plots, and machinations exerted to kill Me would be futile. In fact, all those efforts would only strengthen the foundation of My disciples' faith once they were convinced that I had been raised! After they had seen Me alive following My resurrection, their faith would push them out of their fear into bold passion. Once they ate with Me, their resurrected Lord, their conviction that I lived would stir them to turn the world upside down with My message of grace. These religious leaders and their soldiers could no longer threaten them into silence once they had touched My wounds — wounds on my head, hands, feet, and side — where I had been pierced by the thorns, nails, and a spear. These religious leaders would have their worst fears realized. Once My disciples believed in My resurrection and the empty tomb, they proved to be unstoppable!

So while all seems lost for My little band of followers, those who killed Me were still afraid of Me. You are reading this because you know what happens next: these religious leaders have their worst fears realized. Death could not stop Me or My influence or My triumph over the grave. All their politics, religion, lying, and deception couldn't keep My body locked in that tomb and held by the power of death. Soon, after a brief respite while My body would lie motionless and lifeless in the grave, they would have to deal with Me, the Lord of heaven and earth and conqueror of death.

Verses to Live

The Bible is filled with little glimpses of holy irony as humans try to oppose the plan and power of the LORD — Father, Son, and Spirit. The second Psalm is a powerful testimony about the futility of human scheming in opposition to the will of the Father (Psalm 2:1-12). I especially love the last part of verse 1:"Why are the people making plans to pursue their own vacant and empty greatness?" This frantic scheming by those who put Me to death proved futile as My resurrection demonstrated. So as you read the words below, notice how ridiculous this scheming proved to be.

The next day, which is the day after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went together to Pilate. They reminded him that when Jesus was alive He had claimed that He would be raised from the dead after three days.

Chief Priests and Pharisees:
So please order someone to secure the tomb for at least three days. Otherwise His disciples might sneak in and steal His body away, and then claim that He has been raised from the dead. If that happens, then we would have been better off just leaving Him alive.

You have a guard. Go and secure the grave.

So they went to the tomb, sealed the stone in its mouth, and left the guard to keep watch.

(Matthew 27:62-66)

Response in Prayer

O Father, when death closes in on those whom I love and who are Jesus' disciples, please help Me believe! Help Me believe, O LORD, that the power that was present to bring life to Jesus' dead body will come with grace and power to raise those I love. The distance between burial and resurrection seems like a long wait from our perspective on earth, so I ask for faith to believe that resurrection is coming during the long wait till reunion with those of us who live on this side of the grave. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

For more information about this devotional as well as archives of the material please visit the 'A Year with Jesus' website.


All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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