The conspiracy theory on what happened to Jesus runs alongside the truth of the resurrection right to this day. Matthew is writing his gospel approximately 30 years after the events and running alongside the Church’s presentation of the good news of Jesus is this conspiracy of the stolen body. Even today amongst the Jews and especially Islam they believe that either Jesus never died on the cross or that this happened …
“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 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. (Matthew 28 v 11-15)
The problem is no one has ever been able to find the body of Jesus!
Conspiracy theories are often easier to believe than the truth. To believe the truth then often that means you will personally be impacted in a way that is demanding of you. (If Jesus was resurrected then I was wrong about him not being the Messiah).
Conspiracy theories have to explain away compelling evidence and that takes faith. Some of the guards go and tell the religious leaders what had happened: the earthquake, the stone moved, the appearance of a brilliant light (angel) and the empty tomb. So it may be easier because it is less demanding however it is still asking for faith to turn away from the truth.
Conspiracy theories are founded on a position that must not be moved. The religious leaders have maintained throughout the last few years that Jesus ministry was satanically led. This is unmovable. They cannot be wrong for if they are then their position not just their belief is removed.
Conspiracy theories are risky. If the soldiers had truly fallen asleep then they are in danger of losing their own life (Acts 12:19). The religious leaders convinced them that that once again they could turn Pilate away from any judgment as they had done with Jesus. The leaders had a hold over the soldiers.
Conspiracy theories have holes. If the soldiers were asleep how do they know the disciples stole the body? These same disciples who had deserted Jesus had now come back to risk their life in breaking through the Roman guard, really?
Conspiracy theories are a fight for control. Those who have the power. Those who are in control. Those who call the shots. Those who have the titles. They don’t like it when the cultural atmosphere changes. They don’t want to lose their hold over others. They don’t want to be ordinary. They don’t want to be humbled.
From the virgin birth to the resurrection many will say it didn’t happen and for those who say it did, well, they just may face opposition from those who face losing the most if it is true.
If this is true then how does it affect me?
The story of Jesus challenges some, it is more than a story, it is a game-changer. Some will throw the board-game in the air if they don’t get their own way.
Christmas and Easter, the highlights of that story can be difficult times for those re-telling it and for those who feel they are more important than they actually are.
Conspiracists are still with us.