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They All Knew

Very few people, even atheists, deny that Jesus Christ existed and was executed by the Romans (see also Ancient Empires - Rome). The historical evidence, Biblical and secular, of Christ's life and death is undeniable by any rational human being. His resurrection from the dead is what is denied, primarily by means of the preposterous contention that His disciples stole His body from the Tomb - a lie that began as an official coverup by the chief priests and Pharisees, and the Roman military, even though the conspirators of the coverup knew that Christ really did rise from the dead.

"And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept"

The chief priests and Pharisees knew who Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be, and of His statement that He would rise from the dead after 3 days. So, they went to Pontius Pilate and convinced him that Jesus' disciples were about to steal Jesus' body from the Tomb. Pilate then ordered that they officially seal (see Seals) the tomb themselves, to which Pilate also ordered a Roman military guard added. No body could have stolen the body.

Roman Soldiers

"Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first."

"Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch." (Matthew 27:62-66 KJV)

When Mary and Mary of Magdala went to the Tomb in the early morning of the first day of the week, although the Tomb was still closed and sealed, Christ was not there; He had already risen from the dead just before sunset on the afternoon before and passed through the solid stone of the sealed Tomb (see the Fact Finder question below). An earthquake (an aftershock of the larger earthquake that occurred a little over 3 days before, at the moment of Christ's death, i.e. Matthew 27:51) and an angel opened the Tomb that morning, not to let Christ out, not to let people in to steal His dead body, but to let people in to see that Christ was already gone:

"In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre."

"And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men."

"And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you." (Matthew 28:1-7 KJV)

The women weren't the only people to witness that the Tomb was already empty when it was opened. The Roman military guards also plainly saw it. When they thereafter reported to their superiors that the resurrection really happened, the official coverup began. The soldiers were given a large bribe to begin spreading the lie that Jesus' body was stolen while they were all asleep on guard duty (an extremely serious offense for any soldier, then or now; if true, those Roman troopers would not have been around to proclaim their military incompetence, they would have been in a military prison for dereliction of duty, or even executed, as was done to the soldiers who later slept through Peter's escape from prison, i.e. Acts 12:18-19).

"Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done."

"And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you."

"So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day" (Matthew 28:11-15 KJV)

Fact Finder: On what day of the week was Christ actually crucified? On what day of the week was Christ actually resurrected?
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