There is no aspect of the Gospel to be considered peripheral. All is of the utmost importance. We talk quite a bit of the glorious work done on the cross of Jesus, but without the resurrection of Christ, the cross is rubbish, worthless without meaning. Both are necessary. The importance of Roman soldiers at the tomb of Christ cannot be underestimated. And that brings us to our Verse of the Day:
1 Corinthians 15:2-8
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (NIV)
After Jesus had given up His spirit, His lifeless body hung on the cross. The religious leaders who had orchestrated His death continued to work against the followers of Christ. They went to Pilate, the Roman governor, and asked him to guard the tomb because Jesus had predicted His resurrection after three days (Matthew 27:62:66). Pilate wanted the chaos to end so he agreed.
Different translations read differently, but the best translate Pilate to giving a ‘watch’ of soldiers or a ‘guard’ of soldiers. We know from Roman history this would have been continual four hour shifts of four Roman soldiers standing guard at the tomb of Christ. For Pilate and the Jewish religious class, they did not want the body stolen by Jesus’ followers with the claim that He had risen from the dead. Pilate set a seal on the tomb and stationed soldiers there.
The soldiers knew that if the seal had been broken or if the body were taken, it would mean their life. There were no reprimands for that kind of offense. They knew it would be their last day on Earth so this was not something taken lightly by these soldiers.
Had the religious leaders not asked for this or Pilate not agreed, it would have left room that His body was stolen with false claims of resurrection, but those soldiers make this claim impossible. But why is this such a big deal?
Jesus did not die for His sins, but ours. Had Jesus not been raised from the dead, His death could not have been a propitiation for our sins. His death would have been for His own sin meaning He was not sinless completely destroying the testimony of the entire Bible. God raised Jesus from the dead as the Judge who knew Christ took the punishment for sin, but was without sin and could not be kept in Hell.
Those Roman soldiers may have never known the part they played. When the angels came to the tomb, they fainted (Matthew 28:2-3) and became like dead men. But later, after seeing these angels, knowing the body was gone, did they believe in the risen Christ? We don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find them in Heaven with all the saints.
Leave me a comment. What does the resurrection of Christ mean to you?
Live blessed and be a blessing!