“…and told them, ‘Say this, “His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping.”’” (Matthew 28:13)
The priests and elders gave this instruction above to the soldiers after they reported what happened at the tomb where Jesus was buried. So, what would the soldiers have reported to them? How about this: 1) there was an earthquake, 2) someone in bright shining clothing as white and bright as lightning came down from the sky and walked over to the tomb, 3) he rolled back the stone by himself and then sat on it, 4) he spoke to the women who had come and told them that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and 5) we were absolutely terrified.
Unwittingly, these soldiers were among the early announcers of the resurrection. This was yet another opportunity for these religious leaders to believe, but instead they concocted a story about the body of Jesus being stolen by His disciples during the night as the soldiers slept. The soldiers would all have slept through the bright light and the rolling of that heavy stone? Not likely.
The religious leaders heard the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, but they purposely rejected it. Why? Well, pride for one thing, and self-centeredness for another. They liked things as they were, with them in charge. The resurrection represented the un-doing of everything they valued most. They hardened their hearts so much that regardless of the number of opportunities, their decision was intentionally irreversible.
If you or someone you love is best by pride and self-centeredness, then please know that it is to your and their advantage to turn and run away from those places as quickly as possible. Pride and self-centeredness never lead to anything good. They certainly do not lead to faith; rather, they lead away from it.
Lord, Empower us by Your Spirit to run away and stay away from the pride and self-centeredness that can leave holes in hearts. Amen.