Saying, Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
If ever there was a foolish excuse offered, this was it. If they were Roman soldiers who composed the watch, everybody must have known it was untrue, for sleeping on duty was punished by death. If they were part of the temple guard, everybody would know that they had been set up to tell this tale by the enemies of Jesus. If inquiry be made concerning the source of St. Matthew's information, it may suffice to remind that two at least of our Lord's friends, Joseph and Nicodemus, were members of the Sanhedrin, and would be fully cognizant of the Sanhedrin secrets. The invention of an excuse, and bribing men to make it, show how bewildered the priest party was by the facts and incidents reported. They never attempted to deny the facts; they invented an excuse which they knew had no atom of foundation in fact. Those watchmen could not declare that one single disciple had been seen near the place. It is ever true that they are in grave danger of accusing themselves who attempt to excuse themselves.
I. THIS EXCUSE DECEIVED NOBODY.
1. It did not deceive the watchmen; they must have laughed as they looked into the anxious faces of these officials, and pocketed their hush money.
2. It did not deceive the priest party. They knew perfectly well that it was all their own invention, and never a disciple had touched the body.
3. It did not deceive Pilate, to whom the report was sure to come. He enjoyed the confusion of the men who had mastered him and compelled him to do a wrong.
4. It did not deceive the disciples. For they bad absolutely silent consciences, and the idea of stealing the body had never come to them.
5. It does not deceive us; for we can see that making such a lying excuse is just what the priest party was capable of; but stealing the body is just what the disciples were incapable of.
II. THIS EXCUSE DID NOT HELP THOSE WHO MADE IT. It did not touch the fact that the body was gone. It did not prevent the circulation of the report that Jesus was risen from the dead. These men spent their money for nothing, and only made themselves laughing stocks.
III. THIS EXCUSE DID HELP THOSE AGAINST WHOM IT WAS MADE. It drew attention to the disciples; it set men upon inquiring what had really happened; it made the fact of miraculous resurrection stand out all the more clearly. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.