Not From The Vicarage

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NOT FROM THE VICARAGE

Resurrection Cluedo or ‘just where did Jesus’ body go?’

This article is a chance to have a short look at all those involved in Good Friday and Easter Sunday and considers their motives and opportunities for moving Jesus’ body. Think of it like playing Resurrection Cluedo if you like. For a more scholarly version of this, do buy the book by Frank Morrison, entitled ‘who moved the stone?’

Who had an opportunity to sweep in after Jesus died on the cross? The Romans, for starters, but why would they steal the body? Pilate comes across as being pleased to be rid of Jesus’ body, plus needing to keep the peace which was his main job specification. Having a nation of displeased Hebrews would not have done his career any favours and was best to be avoided. That is why he gave the Jewish authorities permission to guard the tomb themselves.

So perhaps they took Jesus’ body?

Well, again the same argument stands. If they had Jesus’ body, as soon as people started saying, ‘we have seen Jesus’, all the Jewish authorities had to do was say, ‘so have we’ and show them his dead body. They never did this, so obviously they never had the body.

Who else had access?

Well Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took the body from the cross to the tomb, but they did this because they were trying to give Jesus a burial in accordance with scripture; a burial with respect and honour. The idea that they would then turn grave robbers on the Sabbath, not only dishonouring Jesus’ after having gone to such lengths to honour him, but also breaking their own Sabbath and cleanliness laws, is more than faintly ridiculous.

Even if they did sneak his body out somehow, the tomb was guarded and sealed and they would have had to have done it at night in a city full of pilgrims for the Passover. They would have had to do the transfer without being noticed and then pay all those involved enough for their silence to be bought for life. All this under the eyes of Roman and Jewish authorities’ who were desperate to find the body: highly unlikely at best.

So, perhaps it was the women who took the body?

They were in attendance throughout this period and there were several of them. Maybe they got the wrong garden? This last point is erroneous as how many gardens would there have been in Jerusalem with guards beside a sealed tomb? Also the disciples or even Joseph of Arimathea would have pointed out to them eventually that the tomb was actually in that garden over there. There are several reasons why the women at the tomb are illogical suspects, chief among them being that Jesus’ mother was one of the attendant women. How many mothers turn grave robber?

Secondly, they would then have proceeded to deceive all the disciples and indeed the apostles of the early church. This included Mary’s other son James. He was killed for his faith in the risen Jesus. From what we know of Mary it seems outlandish to entertain this plot for any time at all.

But the disciples were suspected by the Jewish authorities and the Romans, if they could pretend that Jesus was still alive, they could foment the rebellion that some of them so desperately wanted.

And yet: they were cowards, hiding from the authorities, too scared even to venture out to see the tomb after the women had done so for them. Only one of them was at the crucifixion and despite spending three years with Jesus they had not quite grasped all he had wanted them to. For example telling them that this exact sequence of events was about to happen, but still being surprised. Better evidence than this though is what happened to the remaining 11 disciples afterwards. Do a bit of research and see how many of them died proclaiming that Jesus was indeed raised from the dead. You will be surprised not only by the number, but also by the manner of their deaths. Would you die for something that you knew to be a lie? It is largely unreasonable to suggest that the disciples did so either.

Jesus was seen on many occasions after his resurrection and we know from the reaction of the authorities that he was no longer in his tomb. So the best remaining argument is that maybe Jesus did not die at all; that he faked his own death.

Just for a minute, find a pencil and roll down your socks and knock your ankles together, not too hard because it hurts, but just once or twice. Hold them together a moment and then imagine someone else’s hand doing that instead of your own. Now take the pencil and hold it alongside your ankles. It would be a nail that sort of length that would have gone through both ankles of someone being crucified.

I mention this because a) it would have left anyone with severe mobility issues and b) because Jesus being taken down from the cross would not have involved a fireman on a ladder gently lifting him down: he was dead, so the Romans would have torn him down. To those crucifying him, the nails holding Jesus there were more valuable than he was.

Before even considering that the Romans were highly proficient at crucifying people and the medical evidence of the blood and water having separated, Jesus was embalmed before being placed in the tomb which was then sealed from the outside. Crucifixion, more often than not, dislocates joints in the arms (Shoulder, wrists, elbows).

Even if Jesus had survived being crucified and having a spear thrust in his side, it is inconceivable that anyone having endured those things after a severe flogging could, with dislocated limbs undo from the inside and in utter darkness the embalmed linen that encased him, before undoing the sealed tomb from the inside and then overpowering the guards, before folding his grave clothes neatly and walking off into the sunrise. This is not the film, Shane.

Which is less troubling for you to believe; that Jesus faked his own death or that he really did keep his promises by defeating death and rising to life three days later?

Sherlock Holmes is famous for saying; ‘When you have ruled out the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.’ Take some time to consider for yourself this Easter where you think Jesus’ body went and maybe do differently in the coming days.

Asa Humphreys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Page last updated: 8th April 2021 11:02 PM