Matthew alone provides a window into the day after Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. Friday was about killing the man. Saturday was about killing his reputation. They knew about his claims to rise from the dead and they would have none of it.
“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).
While some of the Romans saw him as a righteous man (27:19) or even the Son of God (27:54), the Jewish leaders still regarded him as an imposter (27:63). And they viewed his disciples as the ones who might attempt to propagate the lie by stealing his body (27:64).
A guarded tomb sets the stage for something unmistakeable. It’s akin to when Gideon defeated the Midianites with an army reduced from 22,000 to 300 men. It’s akin to when Elijah, contesting with the prophets of Baal, had the sacrifice soaked with water three times only to have God consume it by fire from heaven. This too would be God’s doing. It would be supernatural. It would soon become the lynchpin of our faith that Jesus was not an imposter but the Son of the Living God!