Matthew 28:9-15 (spring AD 30, Sunday morning of Passion Week)
It is truly astonishing that a bald-faced lie – debunked immediately – would still be so popular, but you still hear it: “The disciples must have stolen the body”.
Never mind that they didn’t have any weapons, but the 10-20 guards were fully armed.
Never mind that the disciples – as orthodox Jews – had no interest in Jesus’ corpse.
Never mind that the notion of a resurrection myth was nowhere in their minds because they were too busy grieving the death of their friend.
Never mind that they were so scared of persecution that they were hiding in a room together.
Never mind that if the disciples really HAD stolen the body, then the guards would have been severely punished, even killed for their failure (which is why in v.14 they had to be given specific assurances that that wouldn’t happen).
Never mind all that, because for so many, and so tragically, it is more comfortable to hide behind a rancid heap of falsehood than to confront the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. With the resurrection comes his divinity, and with that comes other realities we find hard to deal with, principally the idea that we need to deal with a righteous God.
To finish on a more cheery note, check out the message Jesus sent to his disciples in verse ten:
“Go and tell my brothers…”…and I scarcely noticed the rest because I couldn’t get over what Jesus called the disciples, right at that moment.
My BROTHERS. Not, ‘those muppets’, or ‘those scaredy cats’, or ‘the chumps’.
This wasn’t new of course, Jesus referred to them as such in Matthew 12:47-50. But that was before one of them betrayed him, one of them denied him three times and all of them ran away when he needed them most.
We are all, as Christians, Jesus’ “brother and sister and mother” because we do the will of God (Matt 12:50). Like him, your home is in heaven; like him you are secure forever in the Father’s love; and like him you will rule over creation forever. And Jesus didn’t merely accept the fact of that relationship with his disciples – he embraced it with them as he does with you. Thank God.