“Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.’ ‘This temple took forty-six years to build,’ the Jews replied, ‘and You are going to raise it up in three days?’ But Jesus was speaking about the temple of His body.” – John 2:19-21

The plans of God will come to pass. No one can foil them. Jesus is here foretelling His death at the hands of the Jews followed by His resurrection. He is predicting His conquest over death and His rise to new life by the omnipotent power of God.

The Jewish leaders use these words of Jesus to impassion the people against Him. They imply that His intent is to destroy the sacred temple of worship in Jerusalem. The fickle crowds abandon their alliance to Jesus and rally around their leaders’ plan to have Him crucified.

“We remember that while this deceiver was still alive He said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come, steal Him, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” – Matthew 27:63-64

The day after the crucifixion, the Jewish leaders are uneasy. For they understand the true meaning of Jesus’ prophecy. Scripture tells of the Messiah rising from the dead on the third day (Luke 24:46). They come before Pilate, Roman governor of Judea, requesting that the tomb of Jesus be secured as a precautionary measure.

The leaders ask Pilate to place guards at the tomb to avert any plans of the disciples. By possibly stealing away Jesus’ body, His followers could claim that He has risen to life. This deception, they believe, could prove worse than the first… Jesus’ claim to messiahship.

Every measure is made to ensure the tomb is secure. Roman guards are assigned to stand watch there day and night. The heavy stone across the tomb’s entrance is sealed with an imperial wax seal. To break such a seal is a high crime.

All this is allowed by the Almighty to prove the truth of the resurrection. For it will take the supernatural power of God to enable the tomb to be opened… and to raise Jesus to life again.

“At dawn on the first day of the week… there was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.” – Matthew 28:1-4

On the third day, the miraculous happens. Jesus is resurrected, just as prophesied. A sudden, intense earthquake shakes the ground as an angel descends from heaven and rolls back the stone. This is done not so Jesus could escape, for a stone could not prevent His rising from the dead. The tomb is opened so all can see that it is empty. Only His linen wrappings remain.

The guards, courageous Roman soldiers, are struck with fear at these unnerving events. Such terror causes them to appear lifeless. When they at last recover from their fright, they hurry into Jerusalem to tell the chief priests all that happened at the tomb.

The Jewish leaders refer to Jesus as “the deceiver”. Yet they are the real deceivers. The priests and the elders devise a plan, for they fear the repercussions of the news of Jesus spreading throughout the city. The guards are offered a large bribe and are told to lie…

“You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’” – Matthew 28:13

For Roman soldiers, falling asleep at an assigned post is a crime punishable by death. Despite this fact, the fabricated story is circulated and accepted, countering the claims of the disciples and satisfying the people’s demand for answers.

This is exactly the intent of the deceitful Jewish leaders. Yet their deceit backfires. Every attempt on their part to prevent the theft of Jesus’ body further proves that His resurrection happened by the undeniable power of God.

If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. – Romans 8:11

Jesus is risen… resurrected to new life. He rules in glorious power in the heavenly realms. The tomb is empty. Yet have we left the tomb? Have we accepted the new resurrection life that Jesus offers? Have we risen to new life in Him?

Before belief in Jesus, we lived in the “tomb” of our sins, guarded by the enemy. In the darkness, without the light of Christ, we fell prey to the lies and deceits of the world. We were unable to escape this tomb on our own.

Only by the supernatural power of God… the same power that raised Christ from the dead… could we be rescued. When we turned to Jesus in faith, our bodies “dead” to sin were raised to new life in Him. He set us free from the tomb of sin and the power of the enemy forever.

Jesus rose to life just as He promised. We are sealed with the promise of eternal life by His Spirit within us. We can trust that one day we also will be resurrected to life everlasting. Just as Jesus, we will leave the tomb behind forever.