By Leta Witt — Pastor’ wife, serving on Herald and Banner Press Board of Publications
Recently reading the Easter story in the book of Matthew, I was struck with the actions of several of its main characters. These were people who knew Jesus, some more closely than others. They saw the miracles, heard His teachings and yet responded differently.
Jesus’ disciples traveled with Him, marveled at his ability to command the wind and sea, and distributed the loaves and fish to the multitudes. They learned what the parables really meant. These men were His friends, but they ran for their lives when the temple guards came to arrest Him. How could they do that?
The priests and religious leaders witnessed first hand Jesus’ power over deformities, evil spirits, and even death. Did not they not realize that this man was, at the very least, sent from the God whom they professed to serve? What an opportunity they missed! They could have learned so much from Jesus. However, their self-importance, their fear of losing their authority over the people and of losing what political rights they had with Rome blinded their eyes. They called for the crucifixion of the very Son of God? How could they do that?
And the ones who guarded the tomb — of all people, they were the ones who knew the truth of the resurrection. They felt the earthquake, saw the angel, and witnessed the huge stone being rolled away. Those things did not normally happen during their duties. This had to be from God. Their response? They reported to the priests and obeyed the command to tell people that the disciples came and stole the body. Why did they not have the intestinal fortitude to tell the truth? Were they afraid they would lose their jobs? Whatever the reason, they spread their lies. How could they do that?
Thankfully, not everyone abandoned Jesus in the time of his humiliation. Many women and some disciples remained near the foot of the cross. Two men, Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, carried his body to the tomb. They were willing to be associated with the crucified Man. After His resurrection, Jesus’ disciples and many others were so convinced of the divinity of Jesus that they spread the word throughout the known world and were even willing to die rather than to deny Him. How could they do that?
How about us today? It is becoming more and more politically incorrect to be a Christian. Will we dilute the gospel so that it is acceptable to today’s society? If not, what will we do in face of persecution? Will we deny Him, or will we gladly stand, voice our commitment to God and tell others how Jesus can change their lives? With God’s power, someday others may look at us and ask, “How can they do that?”