The chief priests and the Pharisees were scared. My reading is they were scared in case the disciples played a trick, pulled a fast one, as it were, and made it seem like Jesus had risen. It is interesting that they clearly knew the stories Jesus had been telling about what was to happen. I do wonder though if, somewhere deep down, hidden away there was the thought in some of their minds ‘what if it actually was true, what he was saying? What if he is who he said he was?’ I suppose when false messiahs are two-a-penny (as they remain today in different ways) a deal of weary cynicism must be at play. Of course Jesus wasn’t the Messiah. Of course he wouldn’t rise from the dead, but just in case, best make sure.
For me, as I read, the challenge is stark. Do I continue to think, trust and live that Jesus did break free from the tomb, having defeated death? Do I really? Sometimes I wonder if I’d rather Jesus did not keep breaking conventions and finding ever more exciting ways to show that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, here, today. If I can just control God for long enough to be able to fathom him out and communicate him, introduce him to others, then I can have the kind of Church and faith experience I was taught was the right one, things will be the way they were supposed to be. Sounds comforting doesn’t it.
Except that isn’t it. At all. This time the Messiah did in fact rise from the dead, break free from the tomb. Nothing could deny it. And nothing we do to try and make the life of faith more in line with how we think it ought to be can constrain our God. He will have his way. It is for us to get in line, not as dogmatic robots, but needing to follow the spark of the Creator as he redeems and reconciles in places, situations and ways we never previously thought possible. All for his glory.
When you think about it, we’re not much different from the chief priests and Pharisees after all.