Christianity stands or falls on one simple truth - the resurrection of Jesus following His
crucifixion. Jesus' good life, and the many miracles He performed mark Him out as special,
but not necessarily as the Son of God. Any man can die for a cause he believes in - so Jesus'
death on the cross doesn't mean He is the Saviour of mankind. What marks Jesus out, and
what confirms Him as the Son of God and, as such, as the Saviour of mankind is the
Jesus' crucifixion is recorded in Roman legal records and also in contemporary Jewish records
of the time. So that fact isn't a matter of debate - it is a simple, historical fact. So the question
is: "What happened to the body?"
With the starting point of a dead body, let's examine the options:
1. Jesus' enemies took the body because He had prophesied that He would rise again - and they took it to prevent His friends doing so
and then claiming He had risen from the dead. If this were the case then, when Jesus' disciples did indeed begin declaring that He was
risen, all His enemies had to do was produce the body and Christianity would have died on Day One! The Romans, who were guarding the
tomb where Jesus was buried, spent the next 400 years trying to stamp out Christianity. If they'd had the body they would surely have
produced it, stopped Christianity developing and saved themselves an awful lot of hard work!
2. Jesus' friends took the body. They had just seen their leader crucified. They were a broken and confused group of disciples. The
records show that they all ran away. For the purpose of the argument, let's suppose that they regained their courage. They then hatched a
plan to steal the body and keep the story of Jesus going. This previously frightened band of men then went to the grave, overpowered the
armed Roman guards and stole the body. Disposing of the body they then, three days later, went out and about telling everyone that Jesus
had risen. As time went on, and one by one, each of the twelve disciples - except John, who spent many years in prison - was executed for
proclaiming that Christ had risen from the dead. If they had taken the body expecting to gain fame and perhaps fortune through
association with Jesus, or perhaps through a nobler plan to keep His name and memory alive, it simply isn't reasonable to assume that all
of them were willing to be killed for something that they would have known to be a lie. Perhaps one of two disciples may have been killed
in the early days but, as the killings went on, those disciples remaining alive would certainly have stopped spreading the news that Jesus
was alive - unless He really was. The only reasonable explanation for their willingness to die was that they were proclaiming what they
knew to be true - Jesus really did rise from the grave and conquer death.
3. A passing grave robber stole the body. If His enemies didn't have the body and His friends didn't have the body, then the only other
people who may have had it would be grave robbers. Grave robbing was common in those days, however there are a couple of problems
with this idea. Firstly, the grave robbers would have had to tackle and overcome an armed Roman guard - which is simply not going to
happen unless they knew there was great wealth buried in the grave. Secondly, grave robbers stole what was buried with the body, not the
body itself. However, to explore every avenue, let's assume that grave robbers did steal the body. The disciples find the grave empty and
genuinely believe that Jesus is risen and set off to proclaim that to anyone who'll listen. However, we are still then left with the problem
that if Jesus was really still dead the disciples would have no evidence, apart from the empty grave, that He was alive. No experiences of
the risen Jesus, no appearances of Him alive - just a missing body. Once again, in the light of that situation it is hard to believe that all of
them would be willing to die on the basis of such flimsy evidence. BUT! Just to eliminate every possibility. Let's assume that they were
willing to die on the basis of just a missing body. That doesn't explain (bearing in mind that, for the sake of this argument Jesus is really
dead, with His body stolen) why 2,000 years later countless thousands of people are having their lives radically changed through their faith
in the Risen Jesus. It doesn't explain why today people around the world are being tortured and killed rather than deny the truth of the
Risen Christ. In fact, in the 20th century more Christians were killed around the world for their faith than in the previous 19 centuries put
together. It really isn't reasonable to assume that all those people were willing to die for just an empty belief in a missing body. They were
willing to die, and Christians have been since the time of Christ, because they had encountered the Risen Jesus and knew, like the disciples,
that Christ has defeated death itself and offers eternal life to all those who believe in Him.
The body wasn't there because Jesus Christ rose from the dead and in doing so showed Himself to be the Son of God, and the Saviour of
Many people who don't believe in the resurrection of Jesus simply haven't examined the evidence. We have had a brief look here at just
one aspect of the resurrection - what happened to the body? If you are still not sure about what to believe, please examine all the evidence
you can find (and e-mail in any questions) because if Jesus didn't rise from the dead then He was just a man, perhaps a good teacher, but
just a man. If He did rise from the dead it means He truly is the Son of God, and that all He said and taught has divine authority. It is too
big an issue to ignore.
Dr. Greenleaf (1783 - 1853), the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote
the famous legal volume entitled, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Simon
Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the "myth" of the
After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion! He wrote a book
entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In which
he emphatically stated:
"…it was impossible that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus Christ actually risen from the
(Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice,
Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best supported event in all of
And not only that, Dr. Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he committed his life to Jesus Christ!