We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded by your direct support for ReKnew and our vision. Please consider supporting this project.

How can you believe Matthew’s report about the Jewish cover up of the resurrection?

Question: In Matthew it’s reported that Jewish authorities tried to cover up the resurrection of Jesus by saying the disciples stole the body while the guards were sleeping. I don’t buy it. How would Matthew know about this story, since it was a secret conversation the authorities had with the guards? And how could they ask the guards to claim they’d fallen asleep since such a crime would have been punishable by death? The story just doesn’t fly.

Answer: Here’s the account your referring to.

Matt. 28:12-15: When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

It seems to me the text answers your question. Matthew could have easily known about the story since it was “widely circulated.” (Or he could have known about it by divine inspiration, if that was required). The guards ordinarily would have gotten in deep trouble for sleeping on the job, except that in this case the Jewish authorities promised to use their influence to “keep [them] out of trouble.” What the Jewish authorities didn’t want was the guards going around telling people what they actually saw!

What’s most interesting, I think, is that this lie is premised on the assumption that the tomb was in fact empty. What this tells us is that when Matthew wrote his Gospel (usually dated 70 to 80 A.D., but I would argue for a pre-70 A.D. date), those who were hostile to Christianity (and there were many) didn’t deny there was any empty tomb. They just offered a counter explanation as to how it became empty. If you don’t believe their counter-explanation, you have to come up with your own. And the best one available, I submit, is the one the disciples themselves offer: Jesus actually rose from the dead.

Category:
Tags: ,
Topics:

Related Reading

What is the significance of Jeremiah 18:7–11?

The Lord states that “if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it.” But if a nation which he has declared he will bless “does evil in my sight…I will change my mind about the good that…

Topics:

Jesus, the Center of Scripture

Paul declared that Jesus was nothing less than the very embodiment of all of God. This distinction of “all of God” is important for us to understand what it means for us to see Jesus and God rightly. Battling proto-gnostic teachers who were apparently presenting Christ alongside other manifestations of God, Paul declares “in Christ…

Topics:

Why do you have such a pessimistic view of government?

Question: I’m a Christian and serve as a servant in government and I find your book The Myth of a Christian Nation, as well as some of your sermons on Christians and politics, highly offensive. I find that while governments sometimes harm people, they also do a lot of good. The American government in particular…

What is the significance of Genesis 22:12 ?

Abraham passed God’s “test” (vs. 1) by being willing to sacrifice his son. The Lord says “…now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son…” If the classical understanding of foreknowledge is true, God’s statement “now I know” seems disingenuous. The meaning of God’s explanation for this knowledge — “since…

Topics:

Rethinking the Resurrection

As much as every other aspect of Jesus life and ministry, I submit that the resurrection must be understood in light of the cross. This event was not anything like the resuscitation of a random corpse. It was the resurrection of the Incarnate Son of God who had fulfilled the human side of the God-human…

Topics:

A Revelation of Beauty Through Ugliness

In my recent post, Getting Honest About the Dark Side of the Bible, I enlisted no less an authority than John Calvin to support my claim that we need to be forthright in acknowledging that some of the portraits of God in the OT are, as he said, “savage” and “barbaric.”  What else can we…