Bible Reading: Matthew 28:11-15
They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’” Matthew 28:13
Do you want to hear another fairy tale? How about the one that says the Resurrection isn’t true because Christ’s body was stolen from the tomb?
Did you know that the Bible itself contains the first version of the Stolen Body myth? After the Resurrection, some of the soldiers who had been guarding the tomb reported to the chief priests what had happened. The chief priests bribed them to say the body had been stolen while they slept (see Matthew 28: 11-15).
Some people today still think that the disciples played hide-and-seek with Jesus’ body. But a load of facts make that fairy tale impossible to believe.
Think about the stone, for example. The stone that sealed the tomb after Jesus was buried wasn’t exactly the kind of pebble you skip across a pond. The five-foot-high circular stone could easily have weighed around two tons. When the tomb was first built, a team of workers probably put the stone in place, using a wedge to keep it from rolling down a trench that sloped down to the opening of the tomb. When Jesus was buried, the wedge was removed and gravity did the rest. It sealed the tomb so it could only be reopened with much noisy grunting by a gang of strong men. (That’s why the women of Mark 16:3 wondered who would roll the stone away from the tomb entrance for them.)
Then there were the guards, a detachment of soldiers from Pilate, the Roman governor, who stood watch over the tomb. Their unit could have numbered as many as sixteen highly trained soldiers. To think that Jesus’ body was stolen you would have to imagine that a group of disciples—the guys who days before had scattered like scared rabbits—confronted a guard of heavily-armed, battle-trained soldiers. The disciples would have had to overpower the soldiers or sneak past them in their sleep to heave a two-ton stone up a slope without waking a single man. Then, so the theory goes, the disciples would have hauled Jesus’ body off, hid it, and endured ridicule, torture, and martyrdom to spread what they knew to be a lie!
Like the first Christians, you can be sure that the Christian faith isn’t based on a fairy tale. It’s built on the solid historical fact of the empty tomb and the risen Christ!
TALK: Why is it impossible that Jesus’ disciples stole his body to fake his resurrection?
PRAY: Thank God that Jesus really rose from the dead.
ACT: Do you have any doubts that Jesus is truly alive? Get all the evidence you need in Josh McDowell’s book Evidence That Demands a Verdict.