“You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” (Matthew 27:65)
When Jesus was dead and buried, with a big stone rolled against the tomb, the Pharisees came to Pilate and asked for permission to seal the stone and guard the tomb.
They gave it their best shot — in vain.
It was hopeless then, it is hopeless today, and it will always be hopeless. Try as they may, people can’t keep Jesus down. They can’t keep him buried.
It’s not hard to figure out: He can break out because he wasn’t forced in. He let himself be libeled and harassed and blackballed and scorned and shoved around and killed.
I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. (John 10:17–18)
No one can keep him down because no one ever knocked him down. He lay down when he was ready.
When it looks like he is buried for good, Jesus is doing something awesome in the dark. “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how” (Mark 4:26–27).
The world thinks Jesus is done for — out of the way — but Jesus is at work in the dark places. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). He let himself be buried — “no one takes [my life] from me” — and he will come out in power when and where he pleases — “I have authority to take it up again.”
“God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24). Jesus has his priesthood today “by the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16).
For twenty centuries, the world has given it their best shot — in vain. They can’t bury him. They can’t hold him in. They can’t silence him or limit him. Jesus is alive and utterly free to go and come wherever he pleases.
Trust him and go with him, no matter what. You cannot lose in the end.