Let’s credit the chief priests with being some of the earliest spin doctors. When the reality of Jesus’ resurrection threatened their cozy status quo, they bribed the men guarding his tomb to say: A – We fell asleep on duty; and B – Some of his disciples took his body away while we were sleeping.
This story – this false information – this lie – was full of holes. Everyone in Jerusalem knew that a guard who fell asleep on the job would be executed immediately. And, if the guards were asleep, how did they know that Jesus’ friends took him away? And why wouldn’t the considerable noise of rolling a giant stone away from the tomb wake the guards up?
The priests’ fabrication couldn’t stand up to the truth of the resurrection. Especially when the resurrected Jesus began appearing in the flesh to many disciples.
Today’s purveyors of false information are more subtle. There’s often enough plausibility to make you think, “Well, maybe.” And enough detail and complexity to make the truth hard to find.
False information, aka fake news, is part of today’s political environment. And now it’s swirling around the coronavirus pandemic. It can be deadly – more than 700 people in Iran died in March and April from drinking methanol – long known to be a deadly poison – after hearing it would keep them safe from COVID-19.
The appeal of false information is its ability to fix what we don’t like. If we can’t change a situation or don’t want to do the hard work of changing it, maybe we can change what people think about it by telling lies, and thus nullify its effect. Or the lies make us feel better about something we fear and can’t control, like saying we’re fine during these endless, debilitating days of social isolation when we’re not.
The new normal of the resurrected Jesus calls us to seek truth and speak truth. We need to be critical thinkers and ask hard questions before sharing new information or acting on it. And we need to own the truth about ourselves: we’re all living with pain these days, cut off from the people and relationships that nurture us and activities that give meaning and pleasure to our lives.
Nowadays especially, we need to focus on Jesus – the way, the truth and the life. He is always with us. And with Jesus by our side, we can live with hard truth in these hard times, even as we trust he has better things in store for us.
Jesus, You are with us always, just as you promised. Thank you for your presence, your love, your protection during this strange time. Help us to trust in you as we wait with patience for better days. Amen.
Written by Cheryl Stubbendieck
The Guards’ Report
“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out oftrouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.“
Cheryl Stubbendieck is a member of Sheridan’s Devotion Writing Team. She was the public relations department head for Nebraska Farm Bureau before retiring in 2012. She and her husband Jim are the editors of a quarterly journal about antique side-by-side shotguns and Cheryl is the co-leader of Sheridan’s new Card Makers group. Their family includes their son Aaron and his wife Chaitra of San Francisco, CA, and their son Reed of Madison, WI.