It is a few days after the resurrection. Gaius, a soldier, is walking down a Jerusalem street when he runs into his friend Demos, a merchant.
“Well, hello there, friend Gaius! It has been a while since I saw you,” Demos called out from the entrance to his shop.
“You know how it is during these Jewish feasts. We soldiers have to keep an eye on the crowds, make sure that no riots erupt so that merchants like yourself can continue making money,” replied Gaius, with a twinkle in his eye.
Demos held his hands out, palms facing outwards, in mock surrender. “True, friend. And my gratitude is displayed in every coin I pay in taxes.” Both the soldier and the merchant smiled at this.
Suddenly turning serious, Demos added, “Say, weren’t you one of the guard posted at the would-be Messiah’s tomb a few days ago? The story all over Jerusalem is that his body is missing. Do tell, what exactly happened?”
Gaius shifted his weight uncomfortably. “His disciples stole the body.”
Demos waited for Gaius to go on: the soldier had never been a taciturn person. But it quickly became apparent that this was an exception.
“And this happened when you were asleep?”
“All of you were asleep?”
“Yes, we were all asleep,” came the reply. Gaius had a pained expression on his face.
“But surely, someone must have stirred when the stone was rolled away? You don’t mean to say that every single one of you was that sound asleep?”
“None of us saw or heard anything.” Gaius reached out his hand to feel his coin pouch, to remind himself why he was lying to a faithful friend.
“So then, if you were all asleep and no one saw anything, is it possible that there is another explanation ? How can you be so sure that it was the man’s disciples who took the body?”
“I… um… I need to be going now. So long!”
Based on a sermon by Alistair Begg, in turn based on Matthew 28:12-13, and embellished with ideas I’ve picked up here and there.