Firstly, there was no body to be found. When Jesus’ disciples went to the tomb after three days to embalm his body, they found an empty tomb.
Many theories have been put forth to explain the fact that Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb on that first Easter day but none are very convincing.
First, it has been suggested by some that Jesus did not actually die on the cross —the “swoon theory”…that he just collapsed and was carried to the tomb, where he woke up. But Jesus had undergone a Roman flogging and then been nailed to a cross for 6 hours—could a man in this condition push away a stone probably weighing a ton and a half ? The soldiers clearly thought he was dead or they would not have taken his body down—-and they would not let a prisoner escape on penalty of death, as Roman soldiers. When they pierced his side, there was a sudden flow of blood and water which we now know is strong medical evidence that Jesus was dead. These were professional killers, and they took him down off the cross, and the Bible even details how they sealed and guarded his tomb to prevent rumours like this one from happening. But when the disciples got to the tomb, the guards were gone, the stone seal was gone, and the body was gone.
It has also been suggested that the disciples stole the body and started a rumour that Jesus had risen from the dead. Remember, the tomb was guarded and sealed shut — so these fishermen would have to overpower Roman guards and roll a stone aside, without anyone noticing. It is also psychologically improbable considering what they had to suffer for what they believed—floggings, torture, even death – they wouldn’t likely ALL die for something they knew wasn’t true…somebody would have confessed to save themselves!
Some have also suggested grave robbers came along and stole the body. But John’s gospel tells us that the grave clothes where lying there, so the tomb wasn’t quite empty. The problem is, grave robbers don’t steal decomposing bodies, which are worth nothing, but they steal expensive things like fine linens! IF these were graverobbers, they got it backwards!
Question: Why do you think so many people have doubted this story through the years? Why does it persist?
Read John 13 and reflect – Why did Jesus allow himself to be betrayed?