Matthew 28: The Empty Tomb
Matthew 28 brings us to the hinge that all of history relies on. Did Jesus rise from the dead? If He did, then He was everything He said He was. If He did not, then He was really nothing special. I find interesting because Matthew points out a very interesting detail about the hypothesis of the empty tomb.
Mat 28:11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
Mat 28:12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
Mat 28:13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
Mat 28:14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
Mat 28:15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
Matthew wrote his gospel sometime between 70-80 A.D. according to most scholars. Therefore, anybody could have called him out on the truth of his statement that the stolen body hypothesis was being rumored at that point.
It might seem a little bit threatening to have a rival hypothesis, but this does seem to reaffirm a very important fact. The tomb was indeed empty, and they needed to be a way for everyone to explain it. After all, if the tomb was not empty or was still sealed just like it had been originally, why would they need to spread a story like this one? It seems that they were trying to develop a way to explain what had happened, and that included an empty tomb.
The resurrection is a serious event. It is not the type of thing that doesn’t matter. It has clearly been a disputed event even from long ago, but if the piece of evidence that the tomb was really empty was even attested to by the opposition, then a variety of other questions arise about how the disciples could have opened something that was sealed while there was an armed guard posted.
The bottom line was the same for these religious leaders as it is today. It is not nearly enough to propose a hypothetical alternative. It should also be shown why that belief is more reasonable than the one that seems to fit the evidence best. The one that says that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead.