Mark 15:42-46; Matthew 27:62-66; Luke 23:55-56 (spring AD 30, Friday night to Saturday of Passion Week)
Spoiler alert: Jesus rose from the dead, as we’ll see in the next reading.
Now we’ve established that, it’s useful to note from today’s verses – regarding events before the resurrection – how the gospel writers inserted important details that help prove the resurrection:
Anti-resurrection theory 1: Jesus just passed out on the cross, and then less than 48 hours later, starved, dehydrated and after dreadful blood loss, managed the following:
- Escaped his bandages in which he was tightly wrapped
- Rewrapped the bandages into two separate pieces (because, um, tidiness??!)
- Pushed the stone – weighing the equivalent of several people – up the slope at the mouth of the tomb
- Unarmed and naked, overpowered an armed guard who would have expected to pay with their lives if they failed to keep Jesus in the tomb
Jesus was definitely dead (Mark 12:44-45, also John 19:32-35)
- The soldiers made sure of it by stabbing Jesus in the side with a spear, eliciting not a living person’s blood but a dead person’s body water.
- Roman soldiers were notoriously good at killing, at it wasn’t tough for them to confirm whether someone was dead or not. The individual soldiers and their commanding centurion all confirmed Jesus was dead
Anti-resurrection theory 2: the disciples stole the body
Jesus’ body did not leave the tomb between his initial burial and his resurrection (Matthew 27:62-66)
God used the same hatred and selfish ambition that fuelled the murder of Jesus, to motivate Jesus’ enemies into taking steps that would ensure Jesus’ body could not be stolen by the disciples.
Also, at this point the disciples were eleven terrified dudes who’d run off when Jesus was arrested. In Peter’s case he also denied even knowing Jesus. They went into hiding, worried that they’d be killed too, and they STILL didn’t understand that Jesus was going to rise from the dead. So they had nothing to gain by stealing the body, everything to lose, and no access to weaponry that would enable them to overpower an armed guard of 10-20 men.
Anti-resurrection theory 3: when the disciples and women found an empty tomb, it’s because they went to the wrong one.
The women knew exactly where Jesus was buried because they followed Joseph, who owned the tomb, to the site (Luke 23:55-56). They communicated the location to the disciples.
Leaving aside that it’s an insulting suggestion to begin with (this tomb was BIG), we again need to bear in mind that nobody expected Jesus to rise from the dead. Mary, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and the disciples Peter and John KNEW that Jesus was dead, so on arriving at the tomb and finding it empty the first thing they would have done would be to check they were in the right place. Then, as we find from the women’s words later, they figured Jesus’ enemies had moved the body in order to spite them.
God is in the big stuff, and he’s in the details. The details of what his people do, and the details of what is done against him and his people. All of it is for our benefit, and his glory. And I’m grateful he set up Jesus resurrection with so much evidence for us to see that backs it up, with today’s readings being but a few examples.
We do indeed live by faith and not by sight. Thank God that of equal truth is that our faith is based on historical facts.