As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. 12 A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. 13 They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ 14 If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” 15 So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today. – Matthew 28:11-15
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical event that really happened. Yet for many they refute it and ask what proofs do we have that the resurrection really took place?
The first proof that we will look at is we have the empty tomb. The empty tomb may be the strongest proof Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The resurrection was preached in the same city where Jesus had been buried shortly before. Jesus’ disciples did not go to some obscure place where no one had heard of Jesus to begin preaching about the resurrection but instead began preaching in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus had died and been buried. They could not have done this if Jesus was still in his tomb–no one would have believed them. No one would be foolish enough to believe a man had raised from the dead when his body lay dead in the tomb for all to see. As Paul Althaus writes, the resurrection proclamation “could not have been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.”
The earliest Jewish arguments against Christianity admit the empty tomb. In the verse above (Matthew 28:11-15), there is a reference made to the Jew’s attempt to refute Christianity be saying that the disciples stole the body. This is significant because it shows that the Jews did not deny the empty tomb. Instead, their “stolen body” theory admitted the significant truth that the tomb was in fact, empty. The Jews and Romans had no motive to steal the body. Christ’s apostles were too cowardly and would have had to overcome the Roman guards. Jesus’ burial cloths were left neatly folded inside, hardly the act of hurrying grave robbers.
Another proof that the tomb was empty is that Jesus’ tomb was never turned into a shrine. This is striking because it was the 1st-century custom to set up a shrine at the site of a holy man’s bones. There were at least 50 such sites in Jesus’ day, but none was made for Jesus. Why? Because He lives! He is alive!