While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. (Matthew 28:11-15 ESV)
“This day” refers to the time of writing of Matthew’s Gospel, but those words still apply in 2018. The conspiracy theory about the supposed theft of Jesus’ body is still being circulated in our day. The opposition to Jesus is still using the same two thousand year-old playbook.
There are three main arguments against the resurrection of Jesus. One is that someone stole His body from the tomb. If you read Matthew 27:62-66, you will see that would have been next to impossible. The religious leaders remembered Jesus saying something about rising after three days, so Governor Pilate ordered the tomb to be sealed and guarded, to prevent someone from stealing His body and spreading a resurrection lie. It took an act of God to open the tomb and immobilize those guards. You can read what really happened in Matthew 28:2-4.
A second argument is that Jesus’ disciples made up the story of His resurrection and spread that lie. To successfully fool the public, they would have had to steal His body. We’ve already seen that would have been nearly impossible, especially for that band of men that had fled in terror three days earlier when Jesus was arrested. Remember that most or all of those men lost their lives for preaching the resurrection of Christ! If they knew it was all a lie, you’d think at least one of them would have fessed up to spare his own life. No, it was after they saw the risen Christ that they had courage like never before. They were so certain Jesus was alive, that they were willing to give their lives for Him.
The third argument is that Jesus didn’t really die on the Cross. He just fainted from exhaustion and from the beatings, and woke up later in the cool tomb. If you study what crucifixion was like, you will see how far-fetched this theory is. The Bible says that the experts – the men trained to conduct crucifixions – could clearly see that He was dead.
The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. (John 19:32-33 NIV)
Pilate was surprised to hear that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. (Mark 15:44-45 NIV)
Today’s Good News is that Jesus is alive! He has risen, as He said. The empty tomb is the key to our Christian faith. If you have questions about Christianity, you need to begin right here with the resurrection. Make it your life’s goal to find out the truth. Read books. Study history. God is not afraid to be put to the test. God is not afraid to have you investigate Him. Where you spend eternity hangs in the balance. If Jesus has not been raised, then my preaching is useless, and so is my faith. But if Jesus has been raised, then He must be God, because only God can do that. If He is God, then we had better listen to what He says…
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6b)
Now, go share the Good News…
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