What happened to Jesus' body? It disappeared, so where did it go? Many theories have been proposed over the centuries, from scientific explanations to supernatural beliefs. Let's explore some of these theories and see where the evidence leads us.
The Scientific Explanations
Animals took the body out of the tomb.
The Roman authorities took the body to prevent it from becoming a martyr.
The Jews removed the body to prevent the tomb from becoming a place of pilgrimage.
The disciples took the body and made up the resurrection story.
One theory suggests that animals may have removed the body from the tomb, but this seems unlikely since the tomb was sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers. The Bible doesn't provide a precise count of the soldiers assigned to watch over Jesus's tomb, but it's commonly believed that a Roman 'watch' would consist of four to sixteen soldiers. The critical thing to note is that the guards were numerous and experienced enough to ensure the tomb was protected from potential tampering. It's doubtful that animals took the corpse. If they had, there would probably be some evidence left behind. They don't have the means to do it without leaving any traces.
The theories about the Romans or the Jews taking away Jesus's body can be easily disproven. It's because neither of these groups wanted more people to believe in and convert to Christianity. Removing the body would have backfired for them, as it would have led more people to believe in Jesus's resurrection. Neither group showed the body to discredit the disciples' claim that Jesus had risen from the dead.
The Roman watch also casts doubt on the possibility of the disciples taking the body themselves. It's important to note that the disciples were not anticipating Jesus' resurrection and were in a state of shock and fear following His death. It seems unlikely that they would have had the courage or motivation to steal His body. Additionally, overpowering the Roman soldiers would have required a fight, leaving behind some form of evidence. This theory also fails to explain the empty tomb, as the disciples wouldn't have left Jesus' burial clothes behind if they had taken His body.
Imagine if the disciples somehow managed to sneak past the Roman guards, move the stone that sealed the tomb, and take Jesus' body. It's worth noting that only John survived without being tortured to death; the rest of the disciples were crucified, beheaded, stoned, stabbed, and flayed. (The Fate of the Disciples) Despite the immense dangers they faced, none of them betrayed their faith and admitted to stealing Jesus' body. They bravely and unwaveringly continued to spread the message of His resurrection.
If Jesus's death and resurrection were just a hoax or conspiracy, why would His disciples willingly die for something they knew to be false? They had nothing to gain from it and everything to lose. Yet, they spread the message of Jesus's resurrection until their dying breaths. That can only be explained by the fact that they genuinely believed in what they saw and experienced: the resurrection of Jesus.
Matthew 27:65-66 (KJV)
65) Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
66) So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
Some people have a different view of what happened to Jesus after his crucifixion. According to this theory, Jesus didn't actually die on the cross but seemed dead and then woke up in the tomb. They believe this because they think his body went through a process called resuscitation, where he regained consciousness. However, this idea isn't supported by historical accounts or medical evidence indicating that Jesus died on the cross. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, a stone was blocking the tomb, and Roman soldiers guarding it so that Jesus couldn't have left the tomb on his own.
There's another theory that suggests God brought Jesus's body to heaven. This theory comes from the belief that Jesus was a divine being and couldn't stay dead. However, it contradicts the accounts in the Bible of Jesus rising from the dead and appearing physically to his disciples. If Jesus's body was divine flesh, he couldn't have been the perfect sacrifice for our sins because he wouldn't have experienced the same temptations as us.
Hebrews 4:15 (KJV)
15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
When we look at the scientific and supernatural explanations, it's evident that none of them completely clarify what happened to Jesus' body. They either don't have enough evidence or go against the facts. But there's one theory that does make sense of everything: the resurrection. It's the idea that Jesus came back to life after his death. This theory ties all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Throughout the Bible, Jesus spoke to His disciples, telling them that He would die and rise again after three days. This astonishing fact is backed up by many people who saw Jesus after He came back to life. They talked to Him, touched Him, and confirmed His resurrection. Another piece of evidence is the empty tomb, which suggests that nobody could have taken Jesus' body without being seen by the guards.
Luke 18:33 (KJV)
33) And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
This scripture tells us what Jesus said about how He would suffer, die, and return to life on the third day. His words were clear and confident, showing He knew it would happen, proving that His resurrection is authentic and comes from God.
Matthew 28:6 (KJV)
6) He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
The fate of Jesus' body after He was crucified remains a topic of great interest and debate. We can look at the evidence from His disciples, historical accounts, and the Scriptures to understand what likely happened. The most logical explanation is the theory of resurrection. It combines all the evidence and accounts and aligns with Jesus's prophecy of His death and resurrection. This belief is held by millions of Christians worldwide and reinforces the core of the Christian faith: the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ's sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection.
The Fate of the Disciples
Peter (Simon Peter, Cephas): Tradition holds that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome under Emperor Nero's reign, considering himself unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus.
Andrew: Andrew, Peter's brother, was crucified on an 'X' shaped cross in Greece after refusing to renounce his faith.
James the Greater: James was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I of Judea. He is the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the Bible (Acts 12:2).
John: John is traditionally believed to have died of natural causes in Ephesus, making him the only one of the twelve not to die a martyr's death.
Philip: Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Asia, for his beliefs.
Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael): Bartholomew was flayed alive and then crucified in Armenia.
Matthew (Levi): Matthew was reportedly stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
Thomas: Thomas was martyred by being speared to death while spreading the Gospel in India.
James the Less: James was stoned to death for his faith in Jerusalem.
Thaddeus (Lebbaeus, Judas, son of James): Thaddeus was crucified in Persia for his faith.
Simon the Zealot: Simon was crucified in Persia.
Judas Iscariot: After betraying Jesus, Judas was filled with remorse and hanged himself, as recorded in Matthew 27:5.