Jesus resurrected from the dead?
6) stolen by friends?
And when they had
assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum
of money to the soldiers, and said, "You are to say, 'His disciples came
by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.' "And if this should
come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of
5.6 Did friends or allies remove the body?
Joseph of Arimathea remove the body? He was the one who requested
possession of the body and placed it in his own tomb. Though he was a member
of the Jewish Sanhedrin, by this gracious act he demonstrated he was publicly
and irrevocably identifying himself with Christ and his teachings. Whatever
Christ and his followers were part of, clearly we may deduce that Joseph
was now part of it, too.
question can now be broadened a bit to ask, "Did
any group of followers steal the body?" What
might have been a difficult task for just Joseph and perhaps Nicodemus to
carry out would have been much easier for a larger group of like-minded
-- THE OPERATION
what must be done in order to steal and perfectly hide Jesus' body. The
operation must be done at a time when secrecy could have been assured.
The darkness of night would help, but the first light of dawn would not
necessitate the light of torches which could easily be spotted at night.
guards at the tomb would next have to be dealt with, and this without
their deaths as they later returned to report to the chief priests.
Presumably this was a Roman guard unit; typically well armed and very well
trained. Their concern was how their failure was going to figure with the
governor. If it had been a temple guard unit, a less formidable obstacle
but nonetheless a problem for potential thieves, there would have been no
need for the priests to bribe the guards, nor for the guards to be assured
of protection from disciplinary action.
both of these obstacles could somehow have been overcome, there is next
the problem of the stone rolled in front of the tomb. A rock of sufficient
size to block the entrance of typical rock-hewn tombs of that era has been
calculated to weigh between one and two tons. Though the roughly circular
boulder need only be rolled out of place, it would have to be done by several
persons and with considerable effort. Likewise, the removal of a dead
body from the scene, and either its quick reburial or placement into
an alternate tomb, would also have taken a degree of manpower and alacrity;
not to mention planning and confidentiality.
-- PROBLEM #1: KEEPING THE SECRET
all the difficulties within this particular scenario, confidentiality is
probably the most insurmountable problem of all. Secrets are notorious for
being told. It is highly unlikely that the necessarily large party involved
all kept the secret and remained unanimously consistent in their alternate
the disciples' theft of the body becomes totally unbelievable when we are
asked to accept that they each maintained that lie even upon their torturous
deaths. It is possible to imagine that a few might have deluded themselves
into believing their own lie over the course of time. Yet the course of
time is exactly what weakens the keeping of secrets. The disciples endured
many years of persecution and threats through which they consistently maintained
Jesus was risen.
is important to note that the characteristic fortitude of these men was
not in evidence at the time of Jesus' death. At that time they fled.
They had failed to understand Jesus' words that he was actually to die.
All they probably understood was that they were publicly known associates
of a man whom a huge cheering mob had just executed. This is very likely
why they were hiding behind locked doors. But something changed their demeanor
and it happened very shortly after Jesus' crucifixion. Whatever it was,
it was sufficiently profound to give these men a common cause for which
they would later each suffer terribly.
-- PROBLEM #2: LACK OF MOTIVE
argument against a resurrection forged by Jesus' friends or allies is the
problem of motive. If we basically ignore Scripture and insist that the
miracle of resurrection could not, and therefore, did not take place, we
should also assume the same thing for Christ's other miracles. His feeding
of the thousands, the healings, and the raising of people from the dead:
these are all miraculous in nature. Presumably, these miracles would not
have taken place either. What would that mean?
all of Jesus' miracles completely erodes Jesus' claim to the Messiahship.
The point is that if Jesus lacked the nature, attributes, and works of
the promised Messiah, then why would anyone attempt to stage a messianic
resurrection? If he did not perform miraculous signs, cause the lame
to walk and the blind to see, be born and die under just the right circumstances,
then what was going to make people believe that an empty tomb was significant?
Jesus was not looking like the Messiah up to his death, a missing corpse
would only be just that - a missing corpse. This would certainly not
have been the first body that had ever been misplaced or stolen. Many have
disappeared or never been found over the years, but our calendars are not
measured by relative position to any of those but one. All the evidence
for Jesus' resurrection, including the debate itself two thousand years
later, should cause us to wonder what it was about this man that had given
public credence to the idea that there was something significant about this
-- PROBLEM #3: WITH FRIENDS LIKE
consider Jesus' teachings. They are not disputed to have actually
been anything other than what was written. He is not alleged to have quietly
been promoting lying and falsehood. Therefore, if his body was going to
be secreted away in the night and his resurrection faked, it was not going
to be by a friend or ally who believed in him and possibly expected his
genuine resurrection. Such dishonest behavior would define the thieves as
Jesus' enemies, not his friends. So consequently, if we cannot find Jesus'
body among his friends, then it is time to look among his enemies.
NEXT: Was Jesus resurrected from
the dead? - part seven
What do we know about Jesus from
Do miracles really happen?