Why Did Roman Guards Seal the Tomb?


After the body of Jesus was entombed, the Jewish priests and elders then requested Pilate to guard Roman soldiers to watch over the tomb. They were afraid that some of Christ's disciples would steal the body and say that He had risen. Roman soldiers would make sure the disciples would not steal the body. So that no chance of deception would take place, the Romans fixed a seal on the stone door (Matthew 27:60-66). Scripture gives us much detail about His burial because God knew there would be those who doubt the resurrection event ever took place. Why did the Jewish leaders request that Pilate order Roman guards placed around the tomb rather than the Jewish temple guards? The Jewish elders knew that many in Jerusalem were followers of Christ, so perhaps they thought the Roman soldiers could be better trusted to safely guard the tomb.


Roman soldiers were highly trained and knew it was at the cost of their lives if they lost a prisoner. In the book of Acts, we read of Herod jailing Peter the Apostle in prison with four squads of four soldiers guarding him. When an angel brought him out, Herod had all sixteen men executed for losing their prisoner (Acts 12:4-19). There would be no sleeping for the Roman guards at Jesus' tomb, for if someone stole the body of Christ, they would pay for their sleeping on duty with their lives.


People look for excuses as to why they should not live in obedience to the Gospel's claims. Many concede that there was a man by the name of Jesus, that He did many miracles of healing, and that He was even a great prophet, but the resurrection is the stumbling block for them. If Jesus is God and did rise again, what is our response to His claims? What impact do Christ's death and resurrection have on our lives?


It is a typical response to avoid personal responsibility to God by explaining the resurrection with several possible explanations. For example, some believe the disciples and the women went to the wrong tomb. Others say the disciples stole the body, or that Jesus only fainted on the cross and then woke up in the tomb and rolled the stone away. The Gospel writers detail such things because based on the evidence of Christ's resurrection, we can have faith that our Savior is alive and has won the victory over death. If there was no resurrection of Jesus, then there is no hope, no life after death, and our Christian faith would be non-existent. As Paul once stated;


12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).


The facts are that Christ died as a substitute in full payment for our sin, His death for our death. 24but also for us, to whom righteousness will be credited—for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and was raised to life for our justification (Romans 4:24-25). God does not leave us in doubt; there is plenty of evidence that Jesus conquered death for you and me. Let's look at some of the facts of the resurrection tomorrow. Keith Thomas.


Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, Study 64, The Resurrection of Christ.