The earliest and most popular way to attack the idea of Jesus’ Resurrection was to say the Disciples removed His body from the tomb.
The second most popular theory is the idea that the Jewish religious leaders or the Romans removed the body.
Like any crime, you look for motive. Like any crime, you look for fact.
Yesterday, the fact of Matthew 28: 11-15 was presented, the fact that the Jewish religious leaders paid the Roman guard money to say that the Disciples stole the body. However, there is no mention in the Bible that anyone even responded to that story. No one even bothered to refute it.
But today, we look at two other theories that can be the basis of doubt in the unbeliever.
The Jewish Religious Leaders Stole Jesus’ Body
Let’s examine what the benefit would be to these “status quo” people, people who were on the top of the religious hierarchy in Jesus’ time. These people wanted Jesus out of the way because He questioned their practices. But would they steal His body from the tomb?
First of all, what would these people do with Jesus’ body? Would they dispose of it, not telling anyone of it? I think not. What I think these leaders would do is parade it for the public to see. What would the effect be? Of course, the whole resurrection idea would be debunked and the Christians would have no information to spread among the people about Jesus who came to show us a better way. He is gone but to a better place, a place where we can go if we follow His way.
This is not a message that they wanted spread in the community.
J.N.D. Andersons observes “Within seven short weeks, [after Christ’s resurrection]—if the records are to be believed at all, and I cannot see any possible reason for Christian writers to have invented that difficult gap of seven weeks—within seven short weeks Jerusalem was seething with the preaching of the Resurrection. The apostles were preaching it up and down the city. The chief priests were very much upset about it. They said that the apostles were trying to bring this man’s blood upon them. They were being accused of having crucified the Lord of Glory. And they were prepared to go to almost any lengths to nip this dangerous heresy in the bud.”
Like pay off Roman guards to lie.
Like parade Jesus’ body in the streets [if only they had it].
The Romans Stole Jesus’ Body
The Romans in Jesus’ day had a different agenda at the time of the Resurrection. Of course they were reluctant torturers and executioners but Governor Pilate wanted control over the province of Caesarea and spent a lot of time in Jerusalem. This is where the greatest unrest was. Pilate wanted peace. A lack of peace in his province spoke poorly of his ability to govern.
Again, J.N.D. Anderson explains the possible motive for Pilate: “He…was upset about the strange teaching [of Jesus]. If he had the body moved, it seems incredible that he would not have informed the chief priests when they were so upset.”
Pilate would have accomplished several things by producing the body: he would have reestablished the authority of the chief priests, he would have debunked the radical teachings of Jesus and the end result would have probably been peace.
People will believe what they want to believe. They may try to tell you that the Romans stole Jesus’ body but they may not be able to tell you why the Romans guarded a tomb they were going to loot.
People will believe what they want to believe. They may try to explain that the chief priests stole Jesus’ body but there was no body mentioned and they definitely would have “mentioned” that they had Jesus’ body.
People will believe what they want to believe. They may explain that the Romans stole Jesus’ body but why? Again to steal a body and then not display a body makes no sense.
“The simple faith of the Christian who believes in the Resurrection is nothing compared to the credulity of the sceptic who will accept the wildest and most implausible romances rather than admit the plain witness of historical certainties” [G. Hanson].