Very often, lies can persistent much longer and much more fervently than the truth. For whatever reason, we as people are vulnerable to hearing something and both blindly receiving it and believing it without much additional investigation. We see this in our politics, we see it in our religious and spiritual practice, and we see it in many other areas of our life. Lies tend to abound, and they can be very difficult to unseat, regardless of the truth that is presented or the evidence that is used while presenting it.
This is what happened with the guards who guarded Jesus’s tomb and the chief priests of the Jews in Jerusalem. The priests invented a story, an alternative to Jesus being resurrected. In fact, instead of believing that God was doing something extraordinary in their midst, they invented a lie that Jesus’s disciples had come and stolen his body away from the tomb. The soldiers were paid as a bribe to tell this story and to keep their own selves out of trouble when word reached the local governor.
While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.Matthew 28:11-15
Nevermind the fact that the tomb was also sealed, not just guarded by these soldiers.
Nevermind the fact that the disciples would have needed to be extremely silent to be able to roll away the stone, pick up Jesus’s body, and run away with it to prevent the soldiers from waking up.
Nevermind that the women saw Jesus there in the garden.
Nevermind that the disciples all saw him later in the house.
Nevermind that Jesus also appeared to 500 other people at one time.
The fact that this lie even persists today shows how much we want to believe lies when it is convenient for us, even when the truth is staring us directly in the face. The lie is persistent, primarily because we don’t like the truth and we are looking for another story.
But let us be a people that look for the truth. Even when the truth seems difficult. Even when the truth challenges the way that we look at the world. Let us allow the truth to change us, not us to change the truth. Let us look to the resurrection of Jesus as a fact that makes all of the difference, that Jesus defeated death and that he wants to do the same for us if we will bend our knee and give our lives to him.