There never has been a more important event in history than when Jesus rose from the dead. But there was a big problem. There was increasing tension between Jesus and the Jewish leaders until it reaches its climax in connection with his death, burial and resurrection. The unbelieving Jews, had a plan to conceal the truth that Christ had indeed been raised.
The chief priests and the Pharisees had gone to Pilate and had asked for guards to be placed around the tomb of Jesus, for they remembered that our Lord had said He would rise again after three days.
Pilate granted their request, and gave them guards “four men who watched for three hours, then relieved by four men for the next three hours, etc., for the next three days”. They also put a seal on the stone. A seal consisted of placing a cord across the stone and securing the ends with clay stamped with an official seal of Rom. If the seal was broken it would be readily apparent.
The problem with the Jews was that in spite of all these precautions they now had an empty tomb and no explanation except the truth that Jesus had indeed been resurrected. O MY WHAT TO DO? The watch reported to the chief priests what had happened. (Matthew 28:11)
Let’s stop here and educate ourselves a bit about the REAL Roman guard. The total number of the guards would have been from ten to thirty men. The soldiers did not get scared, deserted their post, ran back into the city, and reported to the Jewish priests. They were not the kind of men to jeopardize their Roman necks by sleeping at their post they were Roman soldiers, not merely Jewish temple guards...
The soldiers had very strict training the punishment for deserting one’s post or falling asleep while on guard duty was death. The fear of punishments produced faultless attention to duty, especially in the night watches. Since the penalty for falling asleep while on guard duty was DEATH, the last thing “all the soldiers guarding the tomb would do was jeopardize their necks by falling asleep or admitting to anybody that they had fallen ASLEEP. Roman soldiers would have NEVER used falling asleep on duty as an excuse. These were soldiers, Roman soldiers, and if they had “run away” to ANYONE, they would have been put to death.
Based upon these facts, let’s go back now and analyze Matthew 28:12-15 The only solution that make sense was to make up a lie. The ruling Jews were evil, not stupid. It was at this juncture that the ruling Jewish leaders came up with a plan to destroy the faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When the chief priests met with the elders, they devised a plan, and 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. (Matthew 28:12-15 NIV). Notice here that the Jews told the soldiers if this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. They would cover the soldiers so they would not get in trouble and be put to death in other words.
Please also note that this (rumor, lie) had been widely circulated among the Jews. What lie? Jesus disciples came during the night and stole him away. This lie spread from place to place, and person to person, etc. We see the lie that the disciples stole the body of Jesus was commonly reported among the Jews. A rumor (a lie) like this would put real doubts in people like Thomas and it would destroy their faith.
Let’s see what really happened on Resurrection Day:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." (Matthew 28:1-10 NIV)
And in verse 16 were read. Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; “but some doubted”. (Matthew 28:16 NIV) Please keep in mind that some doubted.
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. (Mark 16:12-13NIV)
It is here that we read about the doubt of Thomas, who was indeed also a believer of Jesus. Now Thomas called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:23-28 NIV).
It is very important to see that Thomas also did not believe until he saw with his (literal eyes) that Jesus was indeed alive. Thomas was a real believer but had his real doubts about the resurrection of Christ. We are not told if he had his doubts because of the false lie that was commonly reported among the Jews. However, he had real doubts, non the least.
The Jewish believers struggled with a physical resurrection of Jesus so how could they ever understand (a resurrection of Jesus in the unseen realm)? “Unless Jesus’ body had been resurrected, physically His disciples would have had no assurance that His soul had been to Hades and had been resurrected.
“Unless Jesus’ body had been resurrected, physically they had no assurance Jesus was fulfilling prophecy. Psalm 16:10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
How could the saints, or we, “see or comprehend’ what God accomplished in the spiritual realm, if Jesus did not REAPPEAR and show Himself in a physical bodily form in the physical realm? How could God have shown us the resurrection of His Son without the physical bodily aspect? The physical resurrection of Christ was essential to verify the spiritual to which it was tied.
Remember Matthew said, there was a reported among the Jew that the disciples came at night and stole the body of Jesus. The Jewish leaders were trying to cover up the resurrection as if it never happened. Jesus proved he had indeed been resurrected by eating broiled fish and a honeycomb in their presence! “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39) The concocted lie was weak and had more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese.
Everything Jesus did in His earthly ministry was a type, or shadow, of a greater spiritual truth. He fed five-thousand because He is the Bread of Life. He calmed the stormy sea because He is the Prince of Peace. He forgave sin because He is the Savior of the world. He raised from the dead showed with his own resurrection that He is the Resurrection and the Life.
Paul understood that Jesus physical body resurrection pointed to greater spiritual truth and he writes. "Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (2 Crinthians 5:16) In other words Christ existed as a complete and living personality before his birth into flesh, the same can be said after his ascent back to where he was before. John 6:62-63 "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
Our physical body is a compilation of an entire recipe consisting of DNA, RNA, electrons, neurons, atoms, cells, blood, tissue, intellect, consciousness and your blueprint as an individual. A physical resurrection of our bodies would have NO POINT since we will not continue living on this planet, breathing earth’s oxygen and eating earth’s food, after we die physically.”
The Bible is really clear our physical bodies returns to the earth and our spirits returns to God who gave it. Ecc 12:7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it. Jehovah God spoke these words to Adam For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) In discussing man's plight on earth the Psalmist said: "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts PERISH cease" (Psalms 146:4).