The religious leaders of Jesus’ day knew very well that Jesus truly resurrected. But they were too ashamed to openly acknowledge it or let their subjects hear it, so they hatched a grand conspiracy to cover up the resurrection story.
I am not setting out with this post to fundamentally prove that Jesus rose from the dead because I believe He did. But I am taking a look at the official falsehood that was concocted to suppress the truth of the resurrection.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead as some people ignorantly claim, there would not have been any need for the religious authorities of the day to invent a theory with the sole aim of trying to refute the resurrection story as we know it.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was a historical event that took place in time over two thousand years ago. As followers of Jesus we ‘know’ this by verified Biblical records as well as the fact that the living Jesus now lives in our hearts by the Holy spirit.
“When I first began examining the evidences (sic) for Christianity, I discovered that [the] belief in the Resurrection does not constitute a blind leap into a dark chasm but rather a step into the light. Indeed, the evidence for Christ’s resurrection is so overwhelming that no one can examine it with an open mind desiring to know the truth without becoming convinced of its truth” —Hank Hanegraaff, in Jesus’ Resurrection: Miracle or Myth?
It is unfortunate that some people in the modern world have chosen to dismiss the Biblical account of the resurrection story as a work of fiction or a product of deluded minds. But you see, anyone who denies that Jesus rose from the death does so at his or her own risk, one that has an eternal consequence.
Doubters may continue to doubt, but it does not change the fact that Jesus died and rose from the dead. He is no longer in the grave.
Before Jesus was born of a virgin, there were prophecies that He would be born that way. The purpose of His birth was also foretold and it was fulfilled to the later.
To fulfill the purpose of the redemption of mankind, Jesus had to die. But He assured His disciples that He would rise again from the dead. Whether or not the disciples understood or believed Him at the time is a different ball game.
In the final analysis, Jesus obediently walked the tortuous way to the cross, endured the excruciating pain on the cross and was laid to rest in a cold grave.
But Jesus came out of the grave, victoriously. As the Psalmist had proclaimed centuries earlier, the power of the grave could not hold Him for long. He came back to life. “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave,” Psalm 16:10.
Recall too that during his earthly walk, Jesus Himself had proclaimed that He would die but He would resurrect. At one instance, He declared, “…The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.” Luke 9:22.
The Chief Priests Did Not Forget The Prophecy
The records in the Gospels show that the religious authority of the day remembered what Jesus said about rising on the third day. In order to block the perceived loophole, they decided to seal the grave properly and also set capable soldiers to keep watch over it, to ensure that Jesus’ body would not be stolen by His disciples.
Matthew’s account states that “..the next day, … the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead..” Matthew 27:62-66.
Having secured Pilate’s consent, the gravestone was sealed up and soldiers were put on the watch to ensure that Jesus’ body would not be taken away and thereafter report that resurrection had taken place. But that was not the kind of resurrection Jesus had foretold.
For instance, after chasing out traders from the Temple, Jesus proclaimed that if they killed Him He would come back to life in three days:
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. John 2:19.
Not only did Jesus resurrect as He promised, the rising happened in a most spectacular way: There was an earthquake and a heavenly angel appeared in blazing light and glory and the guards passed out at the sight of him.
“And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead [men]” Matthew 28:3-4.
An angel rolled the stone away and Jesus walked out from the grave victoriously. Hallelujah!
Why Did An Angel Have To Roll Away The Stone?
Matthew Henry explains that “… Our Lord Jesus could have rolled back the stone Himself by His own power, but He chose to have it done by an angel to signify that having undertaken to make satisfaction for our sin, He did not break prison, but had a fair and legal discharge, obtained from heaven. He did not break prison, but an officer was sent on purpose to roll away the stone and open the prison door, which would never have been done if He had not made a full satisfaction.”
Jesus did not break ‘prison’. He got a heavenly discharge. He Resurrected with power and glory.
What about the soldiers? They witnessed the resurrection but could not withstand the accompanying awesome display of heavenly power, so they fell down and became half dead.
Enter The Conspiracy…
When the soldiers awoke from their near-death slumber, they went into town to the elders and the chief priests relating the events of the resurrection as they had witnessed it. But after collecting huge bribes, they were forced to change the resurrection story to agree with the wishes of their paymasters.
The guards were made to twist their testimony to say that the Disciples of Jesus had taken His body away by night. As shameful and unthinkable as that arrangement was, there goes the grand conspiracy they hatched with which they tried to cover up the fact that Jesus had truly risen from the dead.
And when they were assembled with the elders and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him [away] while we slept. Matthew 28:12-13
That conspiracy between the chief priests, on one hand, and the guards on the other thereafter gave rise to the so-called stolen body hypothesis, which according to Wikipedia, “…posits that the body of Jesus Christ was stolen from his burial place. His tomb was found empty not because he was resurrected, but because the body had been hidden somewhere else by the apostles or unknown persons.”
Unfortunately, many people then believed the lie that His body was stolen by His disciples. But we know better: Jesus truly rose from the dead, with power and Glory.
The grave is empty. His disciples didn’t steal His body away as the religious authorities claimed. Jesus arose from the dead with power and glory, just as He promised He would.
Jesus lives forever. And He is coming back again to judge the world.
Only a living man can speak. Jesus spoke and has been speaking, saying “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death” Revelations 1:18.
Jesus is alive and we know it. Therefore, the ‘stolen body’ conspiracy could not and will forever remain incapable of suppressing the fact that Jesus resurrected from the dead.
What is your take on the step taken by the authorities of Jesus’ day to cover up the resurrection story?
©CopyRight 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne