The Burial of Jesus Was Public and Secured

The sixth reason I believe in the resurrection of the historical Jesus is that the burial of Jesus was public and secured. Some of the detractors would say, “Well, you know what? He really died, but they went to the wrong tomb or the disciples stole the body.” Because the Pharisees were concerned that the disciples would steal the body and tell everyone that Jesus rose from the dead, they went to Pilate and asked for help (Matt. 27:62–66). Pilate responded by placing a Roman guard to watch and protect Jesus’ tomb.

We know from Scripture that the tomb was empty, and all that remained was the burial linen neatly folded. The chief priests decided the best course of action was to bribe the soldiers to say that the disciples stole the body while they slept (Matt. 28:11–13). How would sleeping guards be able to see what was happening?

The burial of Jesus was public knowledge and it was very secure. Only Jesus, the Son of God, could have the awesome power to overcome death.

The security of the tomb is undisputed. The tomb Jesus was buried in belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man in high standing in the community. The security of a wealthy man’s tomb was important and this tomb was carved out of solid rock. It was the Rolls-Royce of tombs. I had the opportunity to go to Israel a number of years ago and toured the tombs. Despite all the commercialism and speculation around Jesus’ tomb, the quality of the tombs of the rich was very evident. Jesus’ body was in a secure and well-known location.

The Roman guards kept the tomb secure. The discipline, weaponry, and brutal force of the Roman army made it one of the strongest fighting forces the world had ever seen. I would not want to go up against one of those well-trained warriors. Capital punishment for falling asleep or failing at their duty kept the guards’ attention flawless. They would not willingly have allowed anyone to steal Jesus’ body.

The Roman seal was an insignia representing the power and authority of Rome. It was used to guarantee that there would be no tampering with official business. The breaking of a seal brought the full wrath of Rome and was punishable by immediate death. Roman seals were effective and people left them alone. The tomb was secure, and the seal was unbroken from the outside.

Jesus was securely buried in a tomb carved out of solid rock and the stone that sealed the entrance was extremely heavy. The large stone followed a ridge and would drop into place at the entrance of the tomb. It took four or five men to drop the stone into place and it would take a great many more to lift and roll the stone away. There was no way that twenty men could sneak by or overpower the Roman soldiers, then lift the stone away and take Jesus’ body.

Ingram, Chip. 2017. Why I Believe: Straight Answers to Honest Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

We have just completed a 6-Week Bible Study Lesson Series on Chip Ingram’s book, Why I Believe. It is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription plan. The idea is to invite each participant to purchase their own book and discuss it each week.

Topics include:

Why I Believe, Lesson #1
Chapters 1, 2
Why I Believe in the Resurrection
Did Jesus Really Die?

Why I Believe, Lesson #2
Chapters 3, 4
Why I Believe the Bible
Don’t Take My Word for It

Why I Believe, Lesson #3
Chapters 5
Why I Believe in Life After Death

Why I Believe, Lesson #4
Chapters 6, 7
Why I Believe in Life Creation
Science or God?

Why I Believe, Lesson #5
Chapter 8
Why I Believe in the God of the Bible

Why I Believe, Lesson #6
Chapter 9
How is that Working for You?