By Mackey W. Harden
The term “cover-up” is defined in the following manner; “any action or other means of concealing or preventing investigation or exposure” (Random House College Dictionary). Our society has become very familiar (especially in politics) with various attempts to prevent investigations into certain matters. The tragic ordeal of the Watergate affair still lingers in the minds of many. Congress is now in the midst of trying to unravel yet another attempt of “cover-up” (Korean scandal). When man breaks the civil laws of our country, he will pay for these crimes unless he is able in some way to conceal them and keep them from being exposed.
The Bible gives us many examples in which someone has tried to conceal something from God. As our minds wander back to the earliest days of man’s existence, we see the first attempt of a cover-up, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, which brought about the first sin. They realized immediately they had done wrong. They hid themselves from the presence of God among the trees of the garden (Gen. 3:8) .They learned quite fast that they could not cover-up something from God. Since this incident, many people down through the centuries have tried to use a cover-up when they need to hide or conceal something, whether it be from his fellow-man, or from God.
In Acts 5:1-11, we have recorded another example of an attempt to cover-up something from God. Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of land they owned and kept back part of the price. They brought part of this money and gave it to the apostles. They tried to cover-up their scheme of trickery by pretending to give the full price of the land. The lie they told concerning this might have been concealed from man, but it could not be hidden from God. Peter told Ananias, “. . . why hast thou conceived this thing in throe heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:4). An attempt to cover-up things from God did not succeed in the long ago, and will not succeed now.
I would like to turn our attention now to what I consider one of the most significant cover-up attempts in the history of man-kind. In Matt. 27, we have recorded the crucifixion of our Lord. After his death on the cross, Jesus’ body was given to Joseph of Arimathaea. He took our Savior’s body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb (Matt. 27:59-60). Later on, some of the chief priests and Pharisees came to Pilate, and told him that Christ said He would rise again after three days. They tried to persuade Pilate to make sure the tomb was guarded very securely until the third day. They did not want Jesus’ disciples to come by night and steal his body away, and then make the claim that he had risen from the dead. “Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch” (Matt. 27:65-66). Notice if you will, the many safeguards that were used to prevent Jesus’ body from being taken from the tomb! The Pharisees were not afraid that Jesus would rise from the dead (they thought he was an imposter). They were afraid His followers would steal his body, then make it appear as though Christ had risen from the dead. Indeed they worked with great intensity to be sure that His body could not be taken.
When the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door of the tomb, the soldiers on watch became very frightened (Matt. 28:1-4). Later, some of them went into the city and told the chief priests all that had transpired. The chief priests, along with the elders, gave a large amount of money to the soldiers. In return for this money, the soldiers were ordered to cover-up what had taken place. They were instructed as follows, “Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept” (Matt. 28:13). They were paid large sums of money to lie, and try to conceal the true facts concerning the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! This is without doubt one of the greatest cover-up attempts of all time. These men failed in this attempted cover-up because they were found to be tampering with the very plan of God Almighty! They realized after the resurrection of Jesus, that He was truly the Son of God. They wanted with all their might to conceal and hide this from the people.
All the steps that were taken to guard the body of Jesus were to no avail whatsoever. Jesus came forth triumphant from the grave! He had, indeed, conquered the reigns of death. In Acts 2:24, Peter says concerning Christ’s death, “Whom God bath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Yes, Christ arose from the dead and makes it possible for all men to be made alive (1 Cor. 15:20-22).
The death, burial and resurrection of Christ is the very basis of Christianity (1 Cor. 15:1-4). If Christ had not risen from the dead, man would have no hope for eternal life. To try and cover-up such an important event as the resurrection of Jesus was but a vain and futile attempt. Yet, I guess as long as man lives there will be those who continually try to conceal things from his fellow-man and from God. Maybe someday man will learn to be honest and sincere in the sight of God, and maybe then, there will not be a need for a word such as “cover-up” to be found in our dictionaries. Let us pray to this end.
Truth Magazine XXII: 44, p. 706
November 9, 1978