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A WORD FOR TODAY, March 28, 2023
“Now while they were going, behold, some of the guards came into the city and told the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they were assembled with the elders and had taken counsel, they gave a large amount of silver to the soldiers, saying, ‘Say that his disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept. If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him and make you free of worry.’ So they took the money and did as they were told. This saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continues until today.” Matthew 28:11-15, WEB
Dolly Parton starred in a movie called “Straight Talk.” In this movie, Dolly played a woman who had a tendency of giving advice, a tendency that got her in trouble. It caused her to lose her job and ruin someone else’s relationship. Her own relationship failed and she was down to her last dollars. She needed something to change so she moved to a new city. She tried to find a job but was repeatedly rejected until she convinced a radio station to hire her as a switchboard operator despite her inexperience. Her tendency to give advice helped in this case because she offered some for the person who hired her. She didn’t do well at the job at first, but she caught on eventually.
One day she went for a cup of coffee and accidentally ended up in a booth where the staff was preparing for a new radio personality that was late. They were waiting for a doctor that would give on-air advice. When Dolly walked in the door, they hustled her behind the mike, thinking she was the doctor. She did a terrific job, but the man who hired the original doctor fired her and chased her out of the studio. The listeners demanded that she continue, so they agreed to bring her back, as long as she kept up the façade of being a doctor. She wanted to refuse but allowed them to convince her how good it would be for her career and for her listeners. A newspaper reporter spent most of the movie trying to prove that she was not a doctor. By the time he had his story, he had fallen in love with her and quit his job for her sake.
Just as she was about to begin her first national broadcast, a woman approached Dolly’s character with a complaint. “Why did you tell my husband to leave me?” The woman lambasted the talk show host for knowing only half the story and begging for her to help restore her life. Dolly realized that it was foolish for her to give advice when she did not have the credentials to do so. Besides, her own life was such a mess. She went on the air, told the truth, and walked out of her job. In the end, the listeners loved her so much that she got her job back and she did the program as herself. This was just a movie, but in it we see how quickly things can get out of control in our lives, especially when we let others lead us down the wrong path.
As we look at the characters involved in the Resurrection story, there’s one group that does not often get very much attention: the Roman soldiers. When the women went to the tomb early in the morning on the first day of the week, there was an earthquake, and an angel rolled the stone away. The soldiers that had been posted at the tomb to guard it were so frightened by the experience that Matthew tells us they were “like dead men.” After the women went back to the disciples, the soldiers went to the priests to tell them what happened.
The Jews were worried that the disciples would make it appear that Jesus was raised to fulfill Jesus’ words, so they posted soldiers to watch the tomb. They failed; the body disappeared under their watch. Imagine if you had seen the truth? What do you do? Do you report the story as it happened, or do you let others convince you to tell a lie? They might have come to real faith in Jesus if they had done what is right, but like Dolly in the movie, they chose to lie.
If they told the story as they experienced it, they would have been found guilty of not doing their job. The authorities promised to protect the soldiers if there was a question about what happened that day. So, the soldiers accepted the payment and promise, then lived the lie. With two stories circulating about the resurrection, the people were as divided about the truth of Jesus Christ as they were when He was alive. The world is still divided. People still say what they think will be best for themselves instead of accepting the truth. In this world of ours, some are believers and others are not. Which story do you believe? Do you believe the disciples or the soldiers?
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org