Firm in the Faith: Evidence for the Resurrection
The empty tomb
The enemies of the Christian Faith have always tried to make out that Jesus was not raised from the dead on Easter Day and that therefore the Christian Faith is false.
Bribery of the soldiers
Indeed, they set to work within a few hours of the Resurrection itself. At dawn on Easter morning, the soldiers who had been on guard at the tomb came and told the Jewish rulers how an angel, before their very eyes, had rolled away the stone from the mouth of the tomb, and that the body of Jesus had gone. So the Jewish rulers bribed the soldiers with a large sum of money and told them what they were to say. “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep’. … So they took the money and did as they were directed” (NRSV, Matthew 28:11-15).
As you can see, it was a very poor story, though probably the best they could think of at short notice. It is obvious that, after the Crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday, the disciples had lost their nerve. They had already run away in Gethsemane, and now, after their Master had been tortured to death before their very eyes, their spirit was broken. They were in no state to plan and carry out so daring a scheme as that of moving the stone, unwrapping the body of Jesus and taking it away – all within a few feet of the armed guards. Besides which, the whole thing would have been completely pointless because, even if they got away with it, they would have gained nothing by it.
The body of Jesus never found
We may be quite sure that the Jewish rulers turned Jerusalem upside down in their efforts to find the body of Jesus, because they had only to produce it to prove that the Resurrection had never happened. But they never did find it because it was not there to be found. It had changed into a spiritual, heavenly body, leaving behind the linen grave cloths in which it had been wrapped.