John wasn’t the only disciple to report on what happened around the time of Jesus death. Matthew testified that the Jewish religious leaders, knowing that Jesus had promised to rise again after three days went to Pilate and asked for the tomb to be made secure. They were concerned that Jesus’ disciples might come and steal his body “and tell the people that he had been raised from the dead” so Pilate was convinced to make the tomb as secure as possible by placing a seal on the stone and by posting a guard outside. The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb knew that it would cost them their own lives should they fail in their mission!
But Matthew announces in chapter 28:4 of his gospel that during the night the guards felt an earthquake, and saw an angel move the stone! This so terrified them “they became like dead men” unable to prevent what transpired! Once recovered they did not report it to their commanding officer who would’ve had them killed for failing in their duty. Instead they went to the chief priests with their tale, knowing that they would believe them. Matthew tells us that the Jewish religious leaders needed a different story told, and so they offered some sort of scheme to keep the soldiers out of trouble and paid the men to change their story to blame the disciples for stealing the body. We don’t know what happened to these soldiers, or how long they survived after their encounter with the religious leaders, but the story of the body being stolen was indeed circulated. But how reasonable is it to say that the disciples stole Christ’s body and lied about His resurrection?
The first problem with this theory is that even though one of the disciples Simon the Zealot, had once been part of the patriotic Jewish group that had resisted the Romans, the rest were simple fishermen. Pitted against well-equipped, well trained Roman soldiers guarding the tomb who had a vested interest in carrying out their orders it is unlikely the disciples could’ve successfully carried out such a plot.
Secondly, not only is there is no record of anyone ever confessing this had been a hoax, but the disciples’ character was proved by their deeds. All but one of them were put to death in horrible ways for their testimony concerning Christ’s resurrection. If the resurrection was a lie it was of no advantage to the apostles – if anything, it made their lives a lot harder because of the persecution they suffered because of it.
Some point out though that even today people are willing to die for an ideology, but we have to understand that today people die for what they’ve been told is true. By contrast the disciples would have had to be willing to die for something they personally knew to be a lie! But the disciples never wavered on the fact that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead and that they had seen Him and even touched Him after His resurrection!
We know that the disciples did not just made up the story of Christ’s resurrection, for if they did the religious leaders would have simply produced the body if it was still in the tomb.
Some think those who saw Jesus alive after His death were merely hallucinating but Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that Jesus “appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time”and that most of them were still alive and their testimony could be verified at the time of Paul’s writing. It is truly impossible for five hundred people to have the exact same hallucination at exactly the same time! These people saw something inexplicable – they saw the risen Lord and were willing to die for what they knew to be true! As a result the news of the resurrection continued to spread!
May God bless you