Perhaps they faked His resurrection. Jesus had told them that He was going to resurrect on the third day, but did He really do it? How could we know with any level of certainty that this actually happened? There are a few indications from the gospel account that would tell us that the disciples did not take the body of Jesus and fake the resurrection of Jesus.
1) The disciples were amazed at the resurrection of Jesus.
John 20:14-16, 19-25 tell us the account of Jesus appearing to His disciples following His resurrection. The reaction of the disciples is similar on all accounts: amazement and wonder. A conspiracy to take the body would not result in any level of amazement. However, the accounts include this little detail to layer the veracity of the resurrection account.
2) The gospel accounts point out the disciples’ lack of faith.
This idea is given the term “criterion of embarrassment.” According to this theological argument, historical first person accounts, like the gospels, tend to overplay the awesomeness of the author or main characters. Surprisingly, when you read the gospel accounts, the followers of Jesus were doubtful that His resurrection had occurred. This little detail may perhaps be one of the key evidences that there was not a conspiracy amongst them. They didn’t even expect Him to resurrect, so why fake a resurrection?
3) His tomb was guarded by soldiers.
According to Matthew 27:62-66, the Jewish leaders that had arrested Jesus and crucified Him, feared that His disciples would show up and steal His body and claim that He had resurrected. Knowing this, they had set their own guard at the tomb. This group would have matched the might of the group that arrested Jesus in the garden. In the garden during His arrest, all of the disciples had fled away in fear, what would make anyone think that these same fearful disciples would overwhelm the soldiers and steal the body of Jesus?
4) Multiple eye witness accounts confirm that He did indeed resurrect.
In law, one eyewitness account holds a fair amount of sway on the veracity of any claim. Furthermore, multiple eye witness accounts secure the claim. To say that there was some random guy who thought he might have seen Jesus after His supposed resurrection would be a bit sketchy, but when Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:6 he tells us that over 500 people had witnessed the resurrected Jesus. There is very little room left for argument.
He had died. Now He was resurrected. Mark finishes his gospel account with this glorious truth. Jesus had resurrected. The sorrowful were rejoicing. The broken-hearted were healed. The doubtful had their faith restored. Jesus had brought hope back into the world. His resurrection mattered immensely, and it still matters today. The living Jesus is a vital part of our faith.
Food For Thought: Read Matthew 28:11-15. Where did the story that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body of Jesus come from?