Evidence of The Resurrection

Was Jesus' Body Stolen?


Skeptics claim that the apostles could have stolen the body of Jesus.

Here are reasons why that's not true:

1. Grave robbers would receive the death penalty.

Remember the tight control Rome had over situations like these. To break the seal placed on the stone covering the tomb by removing the stone was punishable by death.

2. There were guards at the tomb guarding Jesus' body with their lives.

For the disciples to steal the body, they would have had to remove the huge stone from the entrance of the tomb without the soldiers noticing. They would have risked waking the soldiers up in order to carry the body out. if the soldiers had fallen asleep on guard, they would have been punished by death!

Even if the disciples had wanted to steal the body, the Roman guards would have stood in their way. Again, for the Roman guards it was a matter of life and death whether they were faithful to their charge of guarding the body and keeping it from being stolen.

3. If the disciples stole the body, why were the intact grave clothes left behind?

Here's something to think about. There was something oddly unusual about the grave wrappings themselves. They were not unwrapped -- but just collapsed. Christ's body had passed right through leaving an empty cocoon of grave clothes. If Jesus' body had been stolen, why didn't the robbers take the grave clothes too?

The Bible says that the grave clothes were left behind like a cocoon with a separate linen napkin around his head. So if they stole his body, why did they leave the wrappings intact but collapsed? Why would they have bothered to neatly remove the burial cloth that was wound around Jesus's body and then rewrap it after they removed His corpse? Speed would have been of the essence!

As far as the grave clothes go, why would anyone choose to carry around an unwrapped decomposing corpse? If there were grave robbers, they would have been in a big hurry and certainly wouldn't have bothered to remove the grave clothes.

4. What was the motivation for the disciples to steal Christ's body?

What benefit would the disciples have from managing to steal the body? What good would it have done them? You have to remember that they were scared to death! They were hiding behind closed doors. Why would they have stuck their necks out to steal the body and for what reason? Why wouldn't they want the body to remain buried?

When you read the Gospel accounts, you'll notice that all the disciples were terrified of the Jews and of what could happen to them too. What was the point of risking death so they could steal Jesus' body?

5. Consider the state of mind of the disciples at that time.

The disciples at that point were not courageous men, but were afraid of being killed too. The leader of the group of disciples, Peter, had even denied that he knew Jesus three times when confronted by a servant girl. He swore vehemently that he didn't even know Him. Does this sound like someone who would want to risk his life by stealing the body of Jesus?

The disciples were broken and despairing men. Why would they receive renewed hope when they knew they had stolen the body of their leader? And why would they be willing to be martyrs -- especially since they knew they had lied about Christ rising from the dead?

6. Consider the transformation of the apostles.

But the apostles were willing to be martyred, beaten and suffer financial loss -- no matter what. Would a stolen body of their leader have inspired this kind of devotion to a cause that they knew was a lie?

The answer to these questions is obvious. Jesus's body was not stolen! He really did rise from the dead! The resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ is a historical fact! The disciples actually experienced the risen Christ!

The meaning of resurrection is  life-changing. It could be yours! The question is -- have you met this risen Christ yet?

The Burial of Christ

It was getting toward the end of the day on which Jesus was crucified. Now what was to be done with His body? As a crucified criminal He would not be entitled to an honorable burial.

But at this point, two rich and influential men stepped out of the shadows and made a public stand for Jesus.

One of them, Joseph of Arimathea, was a wealthy and respected leader among the Jews. He was known for his fair dealings and good character. This honorable man was waiting for the kingdom of God. Although a religious leader himself, Joseph had not agreed with the council's decision to crucify Jesus.

After it was certain that Jesus had died on the cross, Joseph went to Pilate and begged that he be given the body of Jesus, and the governor allowed him to take the corpse.

Another secret disciple joined Joseph that late afternoon and they buried Jesus together. This formerly timid follower was Nicodemus, who was also a religious leader. He had secretly interviewed Jesus at night -- probably so the other religious leaders wouldn't find out about it.

He brought with him about a 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes purchased with his own funds. The two men took the body of Jesus down from the cross and wrapped it in a linen cloth -- winding it round and round with the mixture of myrrh and spices according to the Jewish burial customs of that day.

Then Joseph and Nicodemus placed the body of Jesus in Joseph's own tomb which had been dug out of a rock near a garden. This was a new grave not far from where Jesus had been crucified.

Joseph rolled a large stone in front of the cave and then the two companions left.

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus have gone down in history as true friends of Jesus of Nazareth. They risked their reputations to give a proper Jewish burial to a supposed common criminal.

There is often a high price for taking a public stand for Jesus today as well. Those who are truly redeemed will pay the price by God's grace. They will never regret it -- just as I'm sure Joseph and Nicodemus never regretted their public stand either.