Response To The Theft Theory
Here, we are asked to believe that someone stole the body of Jesus although no proof is offered that any had either a sufficient motive or opportunity to do so. Who had a motive to carry out this asserted crime? When we look at all three possible groups, we find that none had a motive, much less an opportunity, to steal His body.
The Jewish religious leaders had a motive to make sure that his body remained in the tomb so that the apostles could not credibly say that He had been raised from the dead. They were so concerned about the apostles attempting this theft, they requested the Governor to station guards at the tomb to prevent such a thing from occurring.
MAT 27:62 ¶ Now on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate,
MAT 27:63 and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’
MAT 27:64 “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”
MAT 27:65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.”
MAT 27:66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.
The guards had no motive to take the body because if they failed in their duties, their lives would be taken. They had every reason to make sure the body was there
Finally, the apostles did not even believe that Jesus was going to die or be raised from the dead. They had lost all hope that He could overcome what had happened. They abandoned Him in their fear and discouragement.
MAT 26:31 ¶ Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’
Response To The Swoon Theory
Here, we are asked to believe that Jesus did not die on the cross, but fainted. Then, He revived and escaped.
The problem here is we are asked to believe that Jesus overcame overwhelming obstacles such as crucifixion, methods at the end of the process used to hasten death (breaking of legs of the thieves and thrusting spear into the side of Jesus), body warped in burial bandages and spices, stone being rolled in front of the tomb and professionally trained Roman guards being stationed at the tomb.
Is it reasonable to think that Jesus could survive all these? The evidence says that experts pronounced Him dead. There was no evidence for Him fainting.
JOH 19:31 ¶ The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
JOH 19:32 The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him;
JOH 19:33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs;
JOH 19:34 but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.
JOH 19:35 And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.
JOH 19:36 For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.”
JOH 19:37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”
JOH 19:38 ¶ And after these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. He came therefore, and took away His body.
JOH 19:39 And Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night; bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.
JOH 19:40 And so they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
Response To The Hallucination Theory
Did the apostles just imagine that they saw Him alive after He had been dead? The problem here is, the apostles had no expectations that He would be alive after He had been killed. They did not believe what Jesus had said to them about His resurrection. Further, they did not believe the women who had gone and found the empty tomb. How could they imagine something they did not even believe could come to pass?
LUK 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared.
LUK 24:2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
LUK 24:3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
LUK 24:4 And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel;
LUK 24:5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?
LUK 24:6 “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,
LUK 24:7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. ”
LUK 24:8 And they remembered His words,
LUK 24:9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
LUK 24:10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.
LUK 24:11 And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.
LUK 24:21 “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.
LUK 24:22 “But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning,
LUK 24:23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive.
LUK 24:24 “And some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”
LUK 24:25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
LUK 24:26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
Response To The Wrong Tomb Theory
Was Jesus’ body placed in the wrong tomb? Is that why they found Joseph’s tomb empty?
First, Joseph’s tomb was unique compared to the other tombs in the nearby area. It would have been hard to mistake another tomb for his tomb.
MAT 27:57 ¶ And when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.
MAT 27:58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given over to him.
MAT 27:59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
MAT 27:60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.
MAT 27:61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.
Also, the women were observing closely where Jesus’ body was placed so they could return after the Sabbath with spices to anoint the body. They knew exactly where His body had been placed.
LUK 23:53 And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain.
LUK 23:54 And it was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
LUK 23:55 Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed after, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid.
LUK 23:56 And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. ¶ And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
Although each of these theories attempts to explain the empty tomb and the testimony of the apostles about Jesus’ resurrection, they fail to provide us with any reasonable evidence beyond the assertion that these things occurred. They leave too many gaps open for us to accept them as being reasonable explanations of what happened to Jesus.
By Gary Hunt