by Ivor Powell

The Soldiers...Who Fainted on Duty
Ivor Powell
Matthew 28:2-4

How close to the kingdom of God can a man be and yet fail to obtain admittance? John Bunyan believed it was possible to reach the gate of heaven and still be rejected. He described the man who bypassed the cross of Calvary, and by climbing over a wall, took a short cut to the highway that led to the Celestial City. When he reached the end of his journey, he was appalled to discover he had made the greatest mistake of his life. The writers of the Gospels would endorse that account, for they spoke of Judas, who was a companion of Jesus for three memorable years, but his career terminated at the end of a rope. Matthew mentions a rich young ruler who became concerned about the possibility of inheriting eternal life. Unfortunately, when it appeared the cost was too great to pay, he left the Savior and went away grieved because he had great possessions. One of the most challenging stories relates to the soldiers who were commissioned to guard the tomb of Jesus. How near they came to the kingdom of Christ may never be known, but seeking answers to some important questions may help in understanding what happened on the first Easter morning.

How Much Did the Soldiers Care?

Probably not very much. Romans had superintended the crucifixion of the Lord, and it may be safe to assume some, if not all, were commanded to guard His tomb. The prospect of leaving their beds in the garrison to remain all night in a drafty garden was not attractive. Those disgruntled men considered the fears of the Jews to be unjustified. Why should any man risk his life to rob a grave? If the disciples of the dead man had failed to help their leader when He was alive, they would hardly attempt anything when He no longer existed! The soldiers lit a fire in the garden and at intervals during the night changed sentries so that everybody could share the warmth. They were placed at strategic places throughout the area and were ready to ...

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