ABOUT NINE IN THE MORNING the holy women had returned to the garden of the sepulcher. Jesus was still standing near the tomb, and He called to them:
Like Mary Magdalene, they were overcome by the vision of the risen Christ. They ran up and embraced His feet, and worshiped Him, though they were still in the grip of fear and awe. But Jesus gently dismissed them, as He had Mary. Cutting short their protestations, He said:
“Do not be afraid; go, take word to My brethren that they set out for Galilee; there they shall see Me.”
While the holy women were hastening to the disciples with Christ’s message, the news of His resurrection had arrived in another quarter of Jerusalem. The guards posted by the Sanhedrin had fled in terror when the messenger from heaven opened the tomb. At the time they gave no thought to the penalties they might suffer for deserting their post. Later, however, some of them went back to the chief priests and reported all that had happened.
The priests at once summoned the elders for a full session of the Sanhedrin. When the Council had assembled, the members were invited to deliberate on how to dispose of the testimony of the guards, which could have the effect of totally discrediting the Sanhedrin.
The councillors finally decided to use the same expedient that had won over Judas to the betrayal of Christ. The soldiers would be offered a bribe. Having called in the guards, the priests distributed a large sum of money among them and briefed them on the story they were to give to the people: “Say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him while we were sleeping.'” Realizing that the soldiers would incriminate themselves by admitting they were asleep at their posts, the priests added, “And if the procurator hears of this, we will persuade him and keep you out of trouble.”
The guards accepted the money and followed the Council’s instruction. And in spite of the absurdity of their story, it was widely believed among the Jews.
Meditation: The jealousy of the Sanhedrin led them to hate Christ; hatred led them to crucify Him; having crucified Him, lying and bribery were the only avenues open when evidence of the resurrection was presented. One sin had led to another; and now they would not even consider the fact that the resurrection had made their previous charges against Christ quite untenable. They had gone too far to turn back. Every sin that we commit, in addition to offending God, makes it easier for us to go further.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 293-294. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.