The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. – Matthew 27:62-66 (NLT)
Matthew ends his pre-resurrection story by giving evidence that what he writes in chapter 28 is accurate. The religious leaders were listening to at least some of what Jesus said and understood him to be saying he would rise from the dead after three days. They obviously considered this insanity but did fear that his disciples would spread a rumor about his resurrection if it was true or not. The Jewish leaders wanted to be able to squelch this rumor by showing the Jewish people the tomb and the dead body of Jesus. At this point in the story, the Jewish leaders have the upper hand. The disciples have all fled and are in hiding. Jesus is dead and his body is rotting in a tomb that they have secured and guarded. There is no earthly way the Jewish leaders lose. This is the lowest part of the story for the believers in Jesus. They had no earthly reason to look forward to the next day. But with God all things are possible.
How do we continue to remind ourselves and other believers that no matter how grim the outlook is, there is always reason to hope in God? What are verses that stand out to you to help you cope with the hopeless nights here on earth? Do you have a story you can share with someone who is struggling with hopelessness?