11. And while they were departing, lo, some of the guards came into the city, and told the chief priests all things which had happened.12. And having assembled with the eiders, and entered into consultation, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13. Saying, Say that his disciples came by night, and stole him, while you were asleep.14. And if this come to the ears of the governor, we will persuade him, and ensure your safety.15. And they took the money, and did as they had been instructed: and this statement is currently reported among the Jews till the present day.
Matthew 28:11. And while they were departing. It is not only credible, but the fact is manifest, that the soldiers, to whom had been entrusted the charge of the sepulcher, were corrupted by a bribe, so that they were prepared to tell a lie at the bidding of the priests. They knew well that there was nothing which the priests dreaded more than that a report should gain credit that Christ rose on the third day after his death; and they knew that they had been sent there, that, by guarding the body, they might suppress that report. Those men, therefore, being addicted to making gain, and seizing on opportunities of making it from every quarter, after having found that their diligence was of no service to them, contrive a new method of cheating their employers out of their money. The words of Matthew -- some of them came -- leave it uncertain if a few cunning men adopted this resolution without communicating with the rest, or if they were sent, by a general agreement, in the name of all. The latter supposition appears to be more probable; for Matthew afterwards says that money was given, not to one or two, but generally to the soldiers, to induce them to commit perjury. It is at all events certain that, whether they all plotted together, or only a part of them, they sought to make profit of the cruel and implacable hatred which the priests bore towards Christ; and that, looking upon them as convicted of a crime. they abused their evil conscience to extort money from them. For, as usually happens with all wicked men, the priests, conscious of having done wrong, in order to cover their disgrace, were compelled to bribe the soldiers by a large reward. Thus it is evident that the reprobate, after having once given themselves up to a course of sinning, are continually entangled in new crimes; and this arises out of their desire to conceal their shame before men, while they give themselves no concern about the offense committed against God. Those wretched men not only bribe the soldiers by a large sum of money, but expose their own reputation and life to serious danger, should cognizance be taken of the crime. And what constrains them, in addition to the expense which they have laid out, to incur so serious a risk, but because inveterate rage does not permit them to withdraw until they have added sin to sin?
15. And this statement is currently reported. It was the finishing stroke of the vengeance of God to blind the Jews, that the resurrection of Christ was buried by the perjury of the soldiers, and that so gross a falsehood was believed. And hence it is evident that those who did not believe that Christ was risen were deceived by a voluntary error, as the world voluntarily gives itself up to be deceived by the snares of Satan. For if a man had but opened his eyes, it was unnecessary that he should make a long inquiry. Armed soldiers say that the body of Christ was stolen from them by a feeble, timid, small, and unarmed body of men. What plausible grounds have they for saying so? They add that this was done while they were asleep. How then do they come to know that it was stolen? And if they had any suspicion of the disciples, why did they not track their footsteps? Why did they not, at least, make a noise? It was therefore a childish subterfuge, which would not have screened them from punishment, if they had had to deal with an honest and upright governor; but through the connivance of Pilate, that enormous wickedness was allowed to pass unnoticed, In like manner, we see it happen every day, that irreligious judges give themselves little trouble, when truth is oppressed by fraud and malice; but, on the contrary, if they are not afraid of suffering damage, they appear to enter into collusion with base and infamous men.
Though it may appear strange that God should permit this false report to gain currency to extinguish the glory of his Son, we ought to render the honor which is due to his just vengeance. For we perceive that this nation deserved to have its light taken away by clouds, because it so eagerly seizes hold on an idle and childish falsehood; next, because almost all have struck on the stone of stumbling, it was proper that their eyes should be darkened, that they might not see that the cup of giddiness was presented to them; and, in short, that they were abandoned to every kind of madness, as Isaiah had foretold, (6:9.) For God would never have permitted them to be deceived by such a foolish credulity, but in order that those who had despised the Redeemer might be shut out from the hope of salvation; as he now inflicts a similar punishment on the ingratitude of the world, by giving loose reins to the reprobate, that they may go from bad to worse. But though this falsehood obtained currency among the Jews, this did not prevent the truth of the Gospel from flying at liberty to the very ends of the earth, as it always rises victorious over all the obstacles in the world.