62 The next day.... the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. Matthew 27:62-66...."Then the angel spoke to the women. 'Don't be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn't here! He's been raised from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying.' " Matthew 28:5-6
For me, there is something powerful, yet simple and beautiful in these Scriptures. In Matthew 27, we see the religious establishment and system, coupled with that of the world, come together in their strength to prevent the fulfillment of that which Jesus had promised and foretold; His resurrection. This can't be taken lightly. The Pharisees were a powerful religious group. They had great control over the Jewish people. Equally mighty was the authority of Rome. It was not just that Roman guards were posted outside of Christ's tomb, it was also sealed with the literal stamp of Roman authority. To tamper with or touch that seal in any way was to invite death. So we see all the power of the religious spirit coupled with that of the world system in order to prevent what Christ had promised would be. The result of it all? An empty tomb. A risen Christ. A defeated spirit, and a spiritual systems power broken. Captivity was taken captive. Captivity is still taken captive...by Christ the King. He cannot be held by a world or religious system. And because we are His, neither can we. Yet many continue to be? Are you among them?
Where might a religious spirit hold us captive? Rules, laws, teachings, centered not on Him, but upon men. A religion where condemnation is the central trait. Where are we being held by things that tell us what we cannot do, or what we are, but say little if anything of what and who we can be in Him? Where in our lives has that spirit, joined with the spirit of flesh and the world placed a "seal" upon us, seeking to keep us entombed, away from His promise? In darkness, hopelessness. A living death. The devil, moving through these spirits, believes he can keep us in that place. He will succeed if we believe his lie. Yet he'll fail miserably if we believe the promise of the King. If we'll hear His voice calling us, as He did Lazarus, to "come forth!" When that happens, our dark dungeon, as Charles Wesley wrote, "Flames with light. Our chains falls off, our hearts are free, we rise, go forth, and follow Thee." The seal of death is broken. We are sealed in Him by the Holy Spirit.
What tomb holds you captive today? What seals has the enemy succeeded in placing upon it in order to keep you there? When we follow a religion we follow teachings of what men say of Him. When we follow Christ, we follow a Father that He makes known to us. And when we know Him, live in Him, no tomb or seal can hold us.
I have never forgotten the darkness of the "tomb" I lived in for so many years. Sealed in by my sin, helpless to escape. Trapped, and yet, in the words of Keith Green's beautiful song, His "love broke through." The seal of hell's accusations against me was broken. The stone of my sin was rolled away. I was free. And whatever "stones" the enemy tries to imprison me with continue to be rolled away by the power of His risen Life.
Where's the stone, the seal, the darkness in your life? He stands before it, right now. At His word, if you'll hear and receive it, the tomb will open, the seal be broken, the darkness extinguished by His great Light. The stone is rolled away. He calls you forth to Himself. No more tombs, no more seals, no more nights. Do you come?