“Theft” resurrection theory (Part 1)

Another theory to explain away the resurrection of Jesus is the theft theory. In this scenario, Jesus’ disciples stole His body, hid the corpse, and proclaimed to everyone that He was miraculously alive. This theory is actually as old as the resurrection itself; it is recorded in the Bible in Matthew 28:11-15:

“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘You are to say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.”

The trouble with this theory is that the guards were there to prevent the disciples from doing this in the first place. Matthew 27:62-66 says:

“The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise again.” So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.’ ‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”

Since the guards had been charged with one duty—prevent Jesus’ disciples from stealing His corpse—to fail in that solitary assignment was inexcusable. Stranger still is the logic of their excuse for not doing their job: “‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep’” (Matthew 28:13). If the soldiers were sleeping, how could they know who stole the body?

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