On the following day

On the following day (the one which comes after the Day of Preparation), the chief priests and the Pharisees went to see Pilate.

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that the deceiver, when he was still alive, said: ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So please give orders to make his tomb secure until the third day. Otherwise his disciples might come along, steal the body and then tell everyone that he has risen from the dead. And that deception would be worse than the first.”

“Take a contingent of guards,” said Pilate, “and make the tomb as secure as you can.” So they went and put a seal on the tomb,  then posted guards to protect it.

Early on Sunday morning, at dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to visit the tomb.

As they were going, there was a great earthquake as an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and went to the tomb. He rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothes were as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him and fell to the ground as though dead.

“Don’t be afraid,” said the angel to the women. “I know that you’re looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here. He’s risen, just as he told you he would. Come and see the place where he was lying. Then, when you’ve seen it, go quickly and give this message to his disciples:’ He’s risen from the dead and is going ahead of you to Galilee. That’s where you’ll see him!” Now, have you got that message? Good!”

So the women ran from the tomb, frightened, but also very happy. As they hurried to give the message to the disciples, Jesus suddenly met them.

“Greetings,” he said. The woman went up to him, took hold of his feet and worshipped him.

“Don’t be afraid,” said Jesus, “but go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee. They’ll see me there.”

As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests what had happened. A meeting with the elders was called, and a plan was formulated. Giving the soldiers a large sum of money, they instructed the soldiers to say that the disciples came during the night, while they were asleep, and stole the body.

“If the governor hears this story,” said the chief priests, “we’ll keep him happy so you won’t be punished.” The guards took the money and did exactly as instructed. So this story spread widely among the Jewish people, even to this day.

Then the eleven disciples set off for Galilee, travelling to the mountain where Jesus had previously told them to go. Then, when they saw him, they worshipped him – though some of them still couldn’t believe it.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” he told them, “so go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. And be sure of this: I’ll always be with you – even to the end of time.”

Matthew

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