This is perhaps one of the more humorous incidents in the Bible if you really think about it. The Pharisees and chief priests were concerned that perhaps the disciples might come to steal the body and claim that Jesus had risen from the dead as he had prophesied. And so they asked Pilate to make the grave secure so that no one could come and steal the body.
Pilate assented, and gave them a guard (that is, a group of soldiers), to protect the tomb from any robbers.
But on the third day, there was an earthquake, and an angel rolled away the stone and sat on it. This so freaked out the guards that they fainted dead away.
Imagine the consternation of the priests and the Pharisees when they heard this. They had to have been questioning themselves, “Why in the world did we set that guard? All we did is make it more inexplicable that the body has disappeared?”
But it all goes to prove one thing. People can make all their plans to achieve their purposes while denying God’s. But God is not someone who can be thwarted. And his purposes will stand.
Many people wonder about the tension between God’s sovereignty and our free will. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I think you catch a glimpse of the answer here. By their free will, the priests and Pharisees put out a guard to prevent Jesus from coming out from that grave. God didn’t interfere with that choice at all. But after they made their choice, God made his. He raised Jesus from the dead, rolled away the stone, and scared the living daylights out of the guards in the process.
In the same way, we make our choices and God lets us do so. But then God makes his choices, and his purposes will not be thwarted. It wasn’t thwarted then back at the tomb. Nor will it be thwarted now nor into eternity.
So let us praise him and walk with confidence knowing that no matter what happens, God is in control and his purposes will be accomplished.