“Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”- Matthew 28:5-7.
Matthew 28: 1-15 is the full story of Jesus Christ isn’t in the tomb. The guards are lying on the ground like dead men, and the stone has been rolled away. Some of the guards get up and race to the chief priests with an amazing story. “There was a violent earthquake at the tomb, and this angel. You should have been there, the angel was bright like lightning and rolled away the heavy stone!”
Do the priests wonder if they made a mistake and that this man is who he said He was, the Son of God? No. They bribe the soldiers to lie. “Tell everyone that you fell asleep and that the disciples stole the body during the night.” In Matthew 28: 15 we read, “So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.”
For centuries people have acted like the priests and have tried to disprove — even ignore — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. After all, anybody can claim to be God, but to rise from the dead is another matter. People have tried and failed at disproving the resurrection, and during the process of trying to disprove it, some have actually become Christians.
There will always be skeptics. And there will always be theories on what really happened. For example, maybe Jesus wasn’t really dead, and He just rolled away the stone himself. But think about that for a second. A man who has been beaten, tortured and mutilated for hours is going to lie unattended for two cold nights in a tomb and suddenly find the strength to roll away a 2-ton rock, fight off all the Roman soldiers guarding it, then show up convincing everyone that He has a glorious resurrected body. The Romans were experts at crucifying people. Blood and water flowed from His side when the soldier speared it on the Cross. In a dead body, the blood separates into massive red clots and watery serum, just as John described it. (See John 19:34.) So that theory seems pretty unlikely.
There are other theories like “maybe the disciples moved Christ’s body,” or “maybe the soldiers stole the body.” None of them make a whole lot of sense. Once we’ve looked at all the facts and carefully examined the arguments, we would need more faith to believe that Jesus did not rise from the grave than to believe that He did.
- Imagine the women coming to your small group discussion and telling you the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. How would you respond? What questions would you ask? What action would it prompt you to take?