When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
It is good to know that not all of Jesus’s followers had abandoned Him. The Marys and some other women stayed with Him until after the end. I wish we knew more about them, especially Mary Magdeline. She was important enough to be mentioned by name, but she is never mentioned before now. Joseph also not only stays with Jesus, but he performs the burial rites for Him. Joseph must have been very brave, knowing the Priests and Pharisees wouldn’t like that.
And, sure enough, they didn’t. They thought it was a plot to steal His body so they could trick people into thinking He was resurrected. Well, at least we know they listed to something Jesus said. Still, it’s kind of preposterous to think the scattered and scared disciples were capable of any such plan. More than likely the Priests and Pharisees just wanted to keep people from paying their respects, and to make it perfectly clear that they shouldn’t be following Him. They were trying to squash out the last of His followers through fear.
There’s not much more to say about this passage. The remainder of Matthew pretty much just sticks to the facts. It’s very dry and history-like. Matthew wanted to make sure we knew the facts, so he left the rhetoric out. Clever man.