5.5.09

The disciples simply were not clever enough to steal Jesus' body

It seems strange to think like that. We revere the disciples, the apostles to our Lord Jesus Christ. They have become godly and intelligent men in the consciousness at large but their biblical portrayal could not be more different. They were lowly men, fishermen and tax collectors, perhaps not very well educated and certainly Jesus despaired that they did not know the scriptures better. He had to explain the Christology of the scriptures to them on the road to Emmaus, they just failed to 'get it'. It is doubtful therefore that they would have plotted to bribe guards and steal Jesus' body to fulfill a truth that they had not at that point grasped. The disciples didn’t expect that Jesus would be resurrected. Jewish beliefs about the afterlife precluded anyone’s rising from the dead to glory and immortality before the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. and so they would have no reason to rob the body from the tomb in order to fake his resurrection. That the last thing they anticipated was a bodily resurrection is anticipated by their reaction to the risen Lord Jesus "...They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost" (Luke 24:37). John also hints that this was not something that they were expecting.“..Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead…" (John 20:8-9).

I also refute the idea that the disciples stole the body, to fake the resurrection for the following other reasons:

The difficulty of the task: the disciples would have had to devise an ingenious plot: snatching the body from a sealed tomb by outwitting numerous Roman guards who would have been executed for falling asleep on duty or allowing a grave to be robbed. Matthew describes how "And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone" (Matthew 27:66).


The threat of death: the Roman and Jewish authorities sought to put to death anyone who claimed that Jesus had indeed been resurrected. Saul, in Acts, was guilty of doing just this before his conversion. If the disciples had faked the resurrection, it is unlikely they would die for something they knew to be false.


It is unconvincing that the disciples would act so out of character: if the disciples had lied and robbed, this would run totally contrary to their ethical teaching and the quality of their lives, indeed it would not demonstrate that they were Christ's followers at all.


How do we account for the change in them if the resurrection didn't happen: If there had been a plot to deceive then how do we account for their transformation from sorry and disappointed mourners to rejoicing witnesses, determined to spread the good news.


Matthew's gospel proves its awareness of the stolen body theory: In Matthew it clearly states that the chief priests, upon hearing the testimony of the soldiers guarding the tomb, stated "...You are to say, His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep..." and "this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day." (Mt. 28) It's doubtful Matthew would include this if this was what actually happened.


Can you add any other points to these?

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