28:15 reported among the Jews. The willfulness of unbelief is set forth in its stark ugliness here. The soldiers on watch knew beyond doubt that Christ was risen. They had felt the great earthquake and seen the fearful angel break the seal and roll away the stone (Matthew 28:2-4). They knew the body was gone, and they also knew the disciples could not have stolen the body. The chief priests knew all this too, and they had been so concerned about the possibility of resurrection that they had persuaded the governor to seal the tomb and set the guard. The soldiers were entrusted with the tomb’s security under penalty of death, but they were helpless against the mighty angel.
Despite all this, the greed of the soldiers and the hatred of the priests were so great that they were willing to spread the absurd lie that the disciples had stolen the body. Furthermore, the Jews as a whole were apparently quite willing to believe the impossible story. The whole city knew Jesus had been crucified and buried; they also knew the tomb was empty. If they were to reject the truth of the resurrection, they seemed to have no other choice except to say the body was stolen—despite evidence to the contrary, such as the massive stone and the Roman seal and the heavy guard. As time went on, however, and the disciples vindicated their honesty by their willingness to suffer persecution and even death for their testimony, it became absolutely certain that this story was nothing but a desperate fabrication.