Foiled Again

Matthew 27:66 “And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.”

Observation: Jesus had been crucified the previous day and Jewish leaders had gone to Pilate asking that the grave be made secure to prevent Jesus’ followers from stealing His body and falsely claiming He had been raised from the dead. So Pilate told them to post their own guard, making it “as secure as you know how.” (v. 65) So they posted guards and set a seal upon the stone.

Application: I have never before noticed that they set a seal upon the stone. The posting of guards is familiar, but the fact of the seal is new to me, and I wonder: is the idea of a seal significant? This phrase immediately evokes another place in Scripture where a seal and a grave are presented. Song of Solomon 8:6-7 says, “Set me as a seal upon your heart…for love is as strong as death, jealousy as severe as the grave.” Here in this greatest song of all songs, a seal is set as a way of confirming victory over the grave, over death itself. Hot wax was to join two objects, and the signet of the king would be imprinted into the wax signifying authority over death itself.

The idea of a seal being set upon the bridegroom’s heart has a rich history in the affairs of men. The seal was symbolic of the king’s ownership. When his ring’s imprint was set in hot wax, whatever was thus sealed became sacrosanct. A contingent of soldiers would be dispatched to safely deliver a sealed document to its intended recipient, but if the seal was already broken upon arrival, those assigned to deliver the document safely would be executed. In this setting of a seal upon the heart there was also the absolute certainty that the bridegroom was both willing and able to perform what had been requested: to seal for eternity His bride to Himself. None would enjoy her except her bridegroom. So when Solomon wrote, he was describing the Bridegroom’s unending love for His bride.

A temporal king such as Pilate may set his seal where he wishes; princes of men, even leaders of the church might lay claim to victory over the grave, but love wins every time. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. It bursts through the darkness of sin and death. Try as I might to keep my own places of failure and doubt sealed away beneath wax and a stone, Jesus’ love breaks through, foiling again every tendency toward darkness.

Prayer: Father, the whole point of Your Book is that this whole journey is to end at a banquet table, where we who are committed to King Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom, will be invited to His wedding table to be sealed with Him for all eternity. I ask You now, Lord, to remind me in fresh ways that Your purposes will not be foiled…that You have won over death and the grave for all time.

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