In contrast to the women and Joseph, the other participants in the tomb narrative—the religious leaders—have quite different motives: they want Jesus to stay buried lest his promises to reign stir hope. They want the whole Jesus movement to stay buried in the tomb. This paragraph inaugurates a contrast between the alleged deceitfulness of Jesus (v. 63) and of his disciples (v. 64) on the one hand and, not long after, the actual deceitfulness of his enemies on the other (28:13-15; compare Gundry 1982:582). The authorities' behavior is not unlike that of some religious people today, whether conservative or liberal, who insist on being viewed as right even when they are wrong.
But the primary focus of this paragraph and its conclusion in 28:11-15 is the incontrovertible evidence for Jesus' resurrection. Sealing the stone (27:66) would make it impossible for anyone to enter the tomb and then merely replace the stone (see Filson 1960:299). Although Jesus has already left the tomb, the stone is not removed until 28:2. Because Matthew would hardly create a charge that did not exist, we may be sure that the primary polemic against the Christian claim concerning Jesus' resurrection was theft of the body (compare Craig 1984; Meier 1980:356).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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