Original Posting At http://sandpipersthoughts.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-women-and-soldiers.html
Still thinking about Matthew 28:1-15…. At the tomb, there were two women and a group of soldiers. Both the women and the soldiers saw the dazzling angel. How does their response differ?
The women have come to “see.” The verb “to see” denotes an understanding or insight into God’s purposes. They have some “to see.” To see into God’s purposes. They have come in belief or at least with an open mind. They are told to go and tell – and leave in great fear and joy. On the way to the disciples, the women encounter Jesus – and the touch him and bow down and worship him. Then they go and tell the disciples that Jesus is alive.
Some of the soldiers go into the city and tell the chief priests what has happened. The priests assemble the elders and design a plan to cover up what has happened. They bribe the soldiers to say that they fell asleep and someone stole the body. They tell the soldiers that if Pilate has a problem with them, the priests and elders will protect them, and make it right with Pilate. The soldiers are paid with pieces of silver – sound familiar? This is not 30 pieces of silver – this is a much larger sum of money. The author I was reading quoted, “It costs more to suppress the resurrection message than to engineer the crucifixion.”
What is interesting to me is that all of the people we are talking about witnessed what the angels said. Some of them – the women – chose to follow the instructions of the angel and they found Jesus. They chose life. The soldiers who went to chief priests followed different instructions – instructions that could have led to their death for the dereliction of their duty.
What did the other soldiers choose?
Barbara Brown Taylor wrote: The time frame in those five verses collapses as Matthew splices together the things that happened on both sides of the two earthquakes that he reports (one at Jesus death and the other on the morning the women found his tomb empty). Strictly speaking, the soldiers’ confession comes after Jesus’ resurrection (The verse is Matthew 27:54 – Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s son!” )… Which earthquake was that, exactly? So the text leaves open the possibility, at least in our imagination, that the other soldiers chose to believe.