Pre-Resurrection Scene


  • “After more than seven hundred hours of studying this subject and thoroughly investigating its foundation, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, OR it is the most fantastic fact of history…
    “A student at the University of Uruguay once said to me: ‘Professor McDowell, why can’t you refute Christianity?’ I answered: ‘For a very simple reason: I am not able to explain away an event in history – the resurrection of Jesus.’” – Josh McDowell
  • “Thus Jesus, in the austere but exact phrasing of the Apostles’ Creed, ‘suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried….’ I have put dots in place of the famous context because as a young man I used to stop dead at this point in the English Church Service, set my teeth tightly, and refuse to utter another word.  The reader will understand why.
    “But today I feel different.  I have wrestled with that problem and found it tougher than ever I could have conceived possible.  It is easy to say that you will believe nothing that will not fit into the mold of a rationalist conception of the universe.  But suppose the facts won’t fit into that mold?  The utmost that an honest man can do is to undertake to examine the facts patiently and impartially, and to see where they lead him.” – Frank Morison
  • “In light of the convincing facts I had learned during my investigation, in the face of this overwhelming avalanche of evidence in the case for Christ, the great irony was this: it would require much more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to trust in Jesus of Nazareth!” – Lee Strobel
  • “Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through it [the resurrection] piece by piece, as carefully as every judge summing up on a most important cause.  I have myself done it many times over, not to persuade others but to satisfy myself.  I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” – Thomas Arnold

Was Jesus dead?

Luke 22:44 shows Jesus sweating blood prior to his arrest.

  • “This is a known medical condition called hematidrosis.  It’s not very common, but it is associated with a high degree of psychological stress.
    “What happens is that severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands.  As a result, there’s a small amount of bleeding into these glands, and the sweat comes out tinged with blood.  We’re not talking about a lot of blood; it’s just a very, very small amount.
    “What this did was set up the skin to be extremely fragile so that when Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldier the next day, his skin would be very, very sensitive.” (Alexander Metherell, M.D., PH.D. as cited by Strobel, CC)

Mark 15:15-20 describes the beating Jesus received prior to the crucifixion.

  • “The adjudged criminal was usually first forcefully stripped of his clothes, and then tied to a post or pillar in the tribunal.  Then the awful and cruel scourging was administered by the lictors or scourgers.  Although the Hebrews limited by their law the number of strokes in a scourging to forty, the Romans set no such limitation; and the victim was at the mercy of his scourgers.” (John Mattingly, COAC)
  • The brutal instrument used to scourge the victim was called a flagrum.  Of this device Mattingly comments: “It can readily be seen that the long, lashing pieces of bone and metal would greatly lacerate human flesh.” (Mattingly) 
  • “Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal.  They usually consisted of thirty-nine lashes but frequently were a lot more than that, depending on the mood of the soldier applying the blows.
    “The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them.  When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows.  And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely.
    “The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep cuts.  The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks, and the back of the legs.  It was just terrible.
    “One physician who has studied Roman beatings said, ‘As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.’  A third-century historian by the name of Eusebius described a flogging by saying, ‘The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.’
    “We know that many people would die from this kind of beating even before they could be crucified.  At the least, the victim would experience tremendous pain and go into hypovolemic shock…
    “Hypo means ‘low,’ vol refers to volume, and emic means ‘blood,’ so hypovolemic shock means the person is suffering the effects of losing a large amount of blood.  This does four things.  First, the heart races to try to pump blood that isn’t there; second, the blood pressure drops, causing fainting or collapse; third, the kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left; and fourth, the person becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluids to replace the lost blood volume [John 19:28].” (Metherell)

Matthew 27:31 and Mark 15:22 describe the soldiers bringing Jesus to the cross.

  • “The rude stripping of the mock royal garments and the replacing of His own garments, undoubtedly on contact with the cut and bruised skin from the scourging, resulted in great pain [Matthew 27:31].
    “The phrase ‘And they bring him unto the place Golgotha’ would also indicate that Christ, unable to walk under His own power, had to be literally brought or borne along to the place of execution.  Thus, the revolting and horrifying pre-cross sufferings were brought to a close, and the actual act of crucifying began [Mark 15:22].” (Mattingly)

Luke 23:33 and John 20:25 show that Jesus was crucified with his hands and feet nailed.

  • “He would have been laid down, and his hands would have been nailed in the outstretched position to the horizontal beam.  This crossbar was called the patibulum, and at this stage it was separate from the vertical beam, which was permanently set in the ground.
    “The Romans used spikes that were five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point.  They were driven through the wrists…This was a solid position that would lock the hand; if the nails had been driven through the palms, his weight would have caused the skin to tear and he would have fallen off the cross.  So the nails went through the wrists, although this was considered part of the hand in the language of the day.
    “…the nail would go through the place where the median nerve runs.  This is the largest nerve going out to the hand, and it would be crushed by the nail that was being pounded in [pain comparable to taking a pair of pliers and squeezing and crushing the funny bone, or ulna nerve].
    “At this point Jesus was hoisted as the crossbar was attached to the vertical stake, and then nails were driven through Jesus’ feet.  Again, the nerves in his feet would have been crushed, and there would have been a similar type of pain.
    “…his arms would have immediately been stretched, probably about six inches in length, and both shoulders would have become dislocated [Psalm 22:14].” (Metherell)
  • “Once a person is hanging in the vertical position, crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation.
    “The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position; basically, in order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment.  In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot, eventually locking up against the tarsal bones.
    “After managing to exhale, the person would then be able to relax down and take another breath in.  Again he’d have to push himself up to exhale, scraping his bloodied back against the coarse wood of the cross.  This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person wouldn’t be able to push up and breathe anymore…
    “If they wanted to speed up death the Romans would use the steel shaft of a short Roman spear to shatter the victim’s lower leg bones.  This would prevent him from pushing up with his legs so he could breathe, and death by asphyxiation would result in a matter of minutes [John 19:31-33].” (Metherell)

Mark 15:34-39 and Mark 15:44, 45 shows the centurion attesting to Jesus’ death.

  • “It is St. Mark who lays stress upon Pilate’s wonder at hearing that Christ was already dead, and upon his personal questioning of the centurion before he would give leave fro the removal of the body from the Cross.  The Roman soldiers were not unfamiliar with the evidences of death, or with the sight of death following upon crucifixion.” (E. H. Day, ER)
  • “They knew a dead man when they saw one – and their commanding officer had heard the condemned man’s death cry himself and certified the death to the governor, Pontius Pilate.” (Michael Green, MA)
  • “I’ll grant you that these soldiers didn’t go to medical school.  But remember that they were experts in killing people – that was their job, and they did it very well.  They knew without a doubt when a person was dead, and really it’s not so terribly difficult to figure out.

“Besides, if a prisoner somehow escaped, the responsible soldiers would be put to death themselves, so they had a huge incentive to make absolutely sure that each and every victim was dead when he was removed from the cross.” (Metherell)

  • “All the accounts affirm it [Jesus’ death], and if the earliest record (that of Mark) is trustworthy, Pilate himself verified this point by direct inquiry of the centurion, before giving permission for the disposal of the body.  No one seems to have questioned the fact at the time, or at any period during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses.” (Frank Morrison, WMS)

John 19:34, 35 says that blood and water came out of Jesus’ pierced side. 

  • “Even before he died, the hypovolemic shock would have caused a sustained rapid heart rate that would have contributed to heart failure, resulting in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart, called a pericardial effusion, as well as around the lungs, which is called a pleural effusion.

“The spear apparently went through the right lung and into the heart, so when the spear was pulled out, some fluid – the pericardial effusion and the pleural effusion – came out.  This would have the appearance of a clear fluid, like water, followed by a large volume of blood, as the eyewitness John described in his gospel [although the word is translated water in English, it may not mean the Greek word is defined explicitly as water].” (Metherell)

John’s description is consistent with what modern medicine would expect to have happened.

  • .“An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded from the Gospel accounts that Jesus certainly had died before He was removed from the cross:  ‘Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to His side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between His right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured His death.  Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.” (Edwards, PDJC)
  • “…the fifth case [a copious flow of blood, succeeded by a copious flow of water, following the piercing of the left side] would occur in a crucified person, who had died upon the cross from rupture of the heart…There remains, therefore, no supposition possible to explain the recorded phenomenon except the combination of the crucifixion and rupture of the heart.

”That rupture of the heart was the cause of the death of Christ is ably maintained by Dr. William Stroud; and that rupture of the heart actually occurred I firmly believe.” (Samuel Houghton, M.D.)

  • “This (the flow of blood and water from the cut) is evidence of massive clotting of the blood in the main arteries, and is exceptionally strong medical proof of death.  It is all the more impressive because the evangelist could not possibly have realized its significance to a pathologist.  The ‘blood and water’ from the spear-thrust is proof positive that Jesus was already dead.” (Green)

John 19:38-40 shows that Jesus body was wrapped in spices.

  • The remarkable Circumstance of wrapping up the dead Body in Spices, by Joseph and Nicodemus, according to the Manner of the Jews in burying, is full Proof that Jesus was dead, and known to be dead.  Had there indeed been any Remains of Life in Him, when taken down from the Cross, the pungent Nature of the Myrrh and Aloes, their strong Smell, their Bitterness, their being wrapped round His Body in Linens with a Roller, and over His Head and Face with a Napkin, as was the Custom of the Jews to bury, must have entirely extinguished them.” (Samuel Chandler, RJC)

The Tomb

Matt. 27:59, 60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53; John 19:41 give details about the tomb set aside for Jesus.

  • “The grave itself was a cave which had evidently been hewn out in the rock, and which had experienced (the reception of) no other body.  For it was necessary that it, which was itself a wonder, should have the care of that corpse only.  For it is astonishing to see even this rock, standing out erect, and alone on a level land, and having only one cavern within it; lest had there been many, the miracle of Him who overcame death should have been obscured.” (Henry Latham, RM)

The Burial

Luke 23:53; John 19:39, 40 give details concerning Jesus’ burial.

  • “The body was placed on a stone ledge, wound tightly in strips of cloth, and covered with spices, St. John’s Gospel tells us that some seventy pounds were used [John 19:39]…Joseph was a rich man, and no doubt wanted to make up for his cowardliness during the lifetime of Jesus by giving him a splendid funeral.  The amount, though great, has plenty of parallels.  Rabbi Gamaliel, a contemporary of Jesus, was buried with eighty pounds of spices when he died.” (Green)
  • “In preparing a body for burial according to Jewish custom, it was usually washed and straightened, and then bandaged tightly from the armpits to the ankles in strips of linen about a foot wide.  Aromatic spices, often of a gummy consistency, were placed between the wrappings or folds.  They served partially as a preservative and partially as a cement to glue the cloth wrappings into a solid covering.” (Merrill Tenney, RR) 
  • Missionaries and natives of Syria tell us that it is still customary to wash the body (cf. John 12:7; 19:90; mark 16:1; Luke 24:1), swathe hands and feet in gravebands, usually of linen (John 19:40), and cover the face or bind it about with a napkin or handkerchief (John 11:44b).  It is still common to place in the wrappings of the body aromatic spices and other preparations to retard decomposition…” (George B. Eager, ISBE)

Matt. 27:57, 58; Mark 15:42-45; Luke 23:50-52; John 19:38 all mention Joseph of Arimathea.

  • “Given the early Christian anger and bitterness toward the Jewish leaders who had instigated the crucifixion of Jesus, it’s highly improbable that they would have invented one who did the right thing by giving Jesus an honorable burial – especially while all of Jesus’ disciples deserted him!  Besides, they wouldn’t make up a specific member of a specific group, whom people could check out for themselves and ask about this.  So Joseph is undoubtedly a historical figure.

“I’ll add that if this burial by Joseph were a legend that developed later, you’d expect to find other competing burial traditions about what happened to Jesus’ body.  However, you don’t find these at all.  

“As a result, the majority of new Testament scholars today agree that the burial account of Jesus is fundamentally reliable.  John A. T. Robinson, the late Cambridge University New Testament scholar, said the honorable burial of Jesus is one of the earliest and best-attested facts that we have about the historical Jesus.” (William Lane Craig, PH.D., D.TH.)

  • “Now all the four writers agree that, shortly after the death of Jesus, Pilate was approached by Joseph of Arimathea for permission to bury the body.  Whatever doubts may attach, therefore, to other aspects of the tragedy, it seems indisputable that this man, a person of social distinction and even of official status, so far detached himself from the priestly party as to seek permission to give the crucified Prisoner an honorable burial.” (Morison)
  • “It is sometimes suggested that Joseph’s motive in performing this act was to comply with the Jewish law with regard to burial.  I find it difficult to accept this suggestion in face of the evidence.  There were three bodies to be disposed of before sunset, not one, and there is not the slightest trace of any solicitude on the part of Joseph for the two robbers.  His sole motive and preoccupation seems to have been to pay a personal and individual respect to the remains of Jesus.  So far from weakening this supposition, the few details given in the Gospels with regard to Joseph strengthen it.  We are told that ‘he consented not’ in the Sanhedrin ‘to the death of Christ.’  Luke says he ‘was looking for the kingdom of God.’  John, rather more explicitly, but in quite different language, says ‘he was a disciple, but secretly, for fear of the Jews.’  But great events call forth heroic traits in the character of men, and when Jesus was beyond the further pursuit of His enemies, Joseph seems to have risen to the level of his own secret aspirations.  He had the courage to go to Pilate and ask for the body.” (Morison)

John 19:39 says Nicodemus helped Joseph with the burial.

  • “The apostle John is the only canonical writer who tells us anything about Nicodemus at all.  Moreover, the two men had obviously much in common.  Both were apparently drawn from the ruling class (John 3:1).  Both held a secret but sincere regard for the personality of Jesus.  That sooner or later they would come together was almost inevitable, and at what hour more likely than this, when the disfigured body of One whom they reverenced was about to be cast into a dishonorable grave!  It was their last and only opportunity of rendering to Christ that outward allegiance they had denied to Him in life.” (Morison) 
  • “In no conceivable circumstances could Joseph of Arimathea alone have carried out what is recorded of him.  There must have been helpers.  The task of winding the body in a sheet eight feet long (the traditional Jewish practice) would have required at least two pairs of hands.  The distance to be traversed from the hill of public execution to the garden grave could hardly have been short, and it must have required the strength of at least two grown men to carry a body the very wounds of which made it more difficult to handle.” (Morison)

The Stone

Matthew 27:60; Mark 15:46; 16:1-4; Luke 24:2; John 20:1 describe the stone guarding the tomb.

  • The stone was used “as a protection against both men and beasts.  This stone is often mentioned by the Talmudists…It usually required several men to remove it.”  Since the one rolled to the entrance of Jesus’ tomb was intended to prevent an expected theft, it was probably even larger than what would normally have been used! (T. J. Thorburn, RNMC)
  • “There was a slanted groove that led down to a low entrance, and a large disk-shaped stone was rolled down this groove and lodged into place across the door.  A smaller stone was then used to secure the disk.  Although it would be easy to roll this big disk down the groove, it would take several men to roll the stone back up in order to reopen the tomb.  In that sense it was quite secure.” (Craig)
  • “The question as to how they were to remove this stone must of necessity have been a source of considerable perplexity to the women.  Two of them at least had witnessed the interment and knew roughly how things stood.  The stone, which is known to have been large and of considerable weight, was the great difficulty.  When, therefore, we find the earliest record, the Gospel of Mark, the words, ‘Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb?’ we can hardly avoid feeling that this preoccupation of the women with the question of the stone is not only a psychological necessity of the problem, but a definitely historical element in the situation right up to the moment of their arrival at the grave…

“Mark says it was ‘exceeding great.’  Matthew speaks of it as ‘a great stone.’  Peter says, ‘for the stone was great.’  Additional testimony on this point is furnished by the reported anxiety of the women as to how they should move it.  If the stone had not been of considerable weight the combined strength of three women should have been capable of moving it.  We receive, therefore, a very definite impression that it was at least too weighty for the women to remove unaided…

“I do not think that the physical implications of this fact [that the stone had been moved when the women arrived] have been fully realized.  For surely it means that the women were not first at the tomb.  They were forestalled.  Someone who had a very definite interest in this tomb had been there prior to their arrival.  That this is the only possible inference for those who believe, as I do, that we are here on the track of a true historic event will be obvious…

“Could Joseph of Arimathea have returned?…If it is contended that he came privately and alone, then I think we must reject the suggestion…If three women felt themselves unable to move the stone, on the ground of its great size and weight, it would require at least two men to have done so…

“We are left, therefore, with the suggestion that Joseph came with a working party…It does not explain why, when a few weeks later Jerusalem was ringing with the claim that Jesus had risen and had been seen by His disciples, the men who helped Joseph to perform this…did not declare what they knew.  The alternative tomb could not have been very far away, and it is doubtful whether the reinterment could have been accomplished at all without some kind of official permit…If it is true that Joseph acted in a sense on behalf of the Jewish authorities in fulfilling the law by burying the body before sunset…Annas and Caiaphas and the other leaders behind the prosecution must have been aware of it.  If so, why their silence, when the mere statement of the fact…would have been the most damning and conclusive reply to the pretensions of the Christians?…

“We come now to the second group in our inquiry – the friends and disciples of Jesus…by the almost universal consent of mankind, it was unthinkable that these overwrought and harassed people should have had either the originality or the daring to have conceived and carried out this feat…It stands impregnably on moral grounds alone.  Anything seems preferable to the supposition that the disciples either singly or as a party were capable of such a deception, and the conversion of Saul clinches it.  Saul came over at last because he was convinced not only that the disciples were honest, but that they were right!” (Morison)

The Seal

Matt. 27:66 shows the stone to have been sealed.

  • The method of sealing the stone was “probably by a cord stretched across the stone and sealed at each end as in Dan. 6:17.  The sealing was done in the presence of the roman guards who were left in charge to protect this stamp of Roman authority and power.  They did their best to prevent theft and the resurrection (Bruce), but they overreached themselves and provided additional witness to the fact of the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus (Plummer).” (A.T. Robertson, WPNT)
  • “Considering in like manner the securing of Jesus’ tomb, the Roman seal affixed thereon was meant to prevent any attempted vandalizing of the sepulcher.  Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb’s entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.” (McDowell)
  • “The idea is that they sealed the stone in the presence of the guard, and then left them to keep watch.  It would be important that the guard should witness the sealing.  The sealing was performed by stretching a cord across the stone and fastening it to the rock at either end by means of sealing clay.  Or, if the stone at the door happened to be fastened with  a cross beam, this latter was sealed to the rock.” (Marvin Vincent, WSNT)

The Guard

Matt. 27:62-66 details the guard assigned to Jesus’ tomb.

  • Matt. 27:63 shows the chief priests knowing Jesus would resurrect: “It is usually contended that the excuse given to Pilate (that the disciples might steal the body) is wildly improbable; that even if it could be conclusively proved that Jesus predicted His resurrection, the behavior of the disciples shows that they had not apprehended or believed Him; and the elaborate setting of an official guard to prevent such a shadowy contingency is, to say the least, unlikely.

“Personally, I should feel the force of this argument very strongly if it agreed with the accounts of the Trial, which it does not.  It seems to me a very strange and suggestive thing that right back in the very earliest and most primitive accounts of this trial there is the persistent assertion that the whole case against Jesus hinged upon a sentence containing those cryptic and most unusual words: ‘in three days.’” (Morison)

  • Matt. 27:65 says there was a guard: “Now, if there had not been any guards, the exchange would have gone like this: In response to the claim Jesus is risen, the Jews would say, ‘No, the disciples stole his body.’  Christians would reply, ‘But the guards would have prevented the theft.’  Then the Jewish response would have been, ‘What guards?  You’re crazy!  There were no guards!’  Yet history tells us that’s not what the Jews said.” (Craig)
  • “…there are strong reasons for thinking that some kind of temporary guard or watch must inevitably have been placed over this particular garden.  Had the body of Jesus been cast, as might have been expected, into the common grave, official protection for the burial place would naturally have been provided as a matter of course.  Jerusalem was always a very crowded and turbulent place at feast times, and this was no ordinary execution.  You could not have so famous and in some quarters execrated a body as that of Jesus, lying about, as it were, in a place accessible to the public without let or hindrance.  It is absurd to suppose anything so foreign to the highly civilized government that Jerusalem possessed.  The precautions appropriate to the occasion would have been provided automatically, and no one would have thought it in any way unusual.” (Morison)

In Matt. 27:65, Pilate tells the chief priests and Pharisees, “Ye have a guard…”…but was he referring to a Jewish guard that the priests had, or a Roman guard that he was giving them?: 

  • “Nevertheless, the word…[koustodia] borrowed from the Latin would seem to indicate a Roman guard, and the mention of the captain (Matt. 28:14) ought to make this opinion prevail.” (E. Le Camus, LC)
  • A.T. Robertson, the noted Greek scholar, says that the phrase “’Have a guard’ (echete koustodian) [is] present imperative [and refers to] a guard of Roman soldiers, not mere temple police.” (Robertson, WPNT)
  • “The need of Pilate’s authorization and the risk of punishment from him (Mt. 28:14) show that this guard must have consisted, not of the Jewish Temple police, but of soldiers from the Roman cohort at Jerusalem; possibly, though not probably, the same as had guarded the cross.” (Harold Smith, DCG)
  • “The context of Matthew 27 and 28 seems to corroborate the view that it was a ‘Roman guard’ that was used to secure Jesus’ tomb.  If Pilate had told them to use the ‘temple police’ just to get rid of them, then the guard would have been responsible to the chief priests only and not to Pilate.  However, if Pilate gave them a ‘Roman guard’ to protect the tomb, then the guard would have been responsible to Pilate and not to the chief priests.  The key lies in verses 11 and 14 of chapter 28.

“Verse 11 records that the guard came and reported to the chief priests.  At first glance it seems that they were responsible to the chief priests.  But if some of the guards had reported to Pilate they would have been put to death immediately, as will be explained below.  Verse 14 confirms the view that they were a Roman guard and directly responsible to Pilate…

“If they were the ‘temple police,’ why worry about Pilate hearing about it?  There is no indication that he would have jurisdiction over them.  The writer feels this is what happened: They were a ‘Roman guard’ to which Pilate had given instructions to secure the grave in order to satisfy and keep peace with the religious hierarchy.  The chief priests had cautiously sought a ‘Roman guard’: ‘Therefore command that the tomb be made secure’ (Matt. 27:64).

“If the priests had wanted to post temple police at the tomb, they would not have needed the orders of the governor to do it.  As it happened, the Roman soldiers came to the chief priests for protection, because they knew that they would have influence over Pilate and would keep them from being executed: ‘We will win him [the governor, Pilate] over and keep you out of trouble’ (Matt. 28:14).” (McDowell)

  • “…the word Matthew uses to refer to the guards is often used with respect to Roman soldiers rather than just temple officers.

“And remember, John tells us it was a Roman centurion who led Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus under the direction of Jewish leadership.  So there is precedent for Roman guards reporting to Jewish religious leaders.  It seems plausible that they could also be involved in the guarding of the tomb.” (Craig)

Since it is established that the guard was a Roman guard, what was the Roman Military Discipline?

  • “The punishment for quitting post was death, according to the laws.” (Hal, Antiq. Rom.)
  • From the annals of Roman military history: “In 418, standard bearer lagging in battle, slain by general’s own hand; in 390, asleep on duty, hurled from the cliff of the Capitolium, in 252, negligence, beaten and rank reduced; in 218, negligence, punished; in 195, lagging, struck with weapon…” (Currie, MDR)
  • Regarding their accessories: “In his right hand…Roman pike [over 6 feet in length, has sharp iron head in a wooden shaft]…On the left arm is a large shield [probably 4 ft in length by 2.5 in width]…the sword – thrusting rather than slashing weapon, approaching 3 ft in length – is hung at the right side by a belt…On the left side the soldier wears a dagger at his girdle.” (Tucker, LRW)
  • What was a Roman Guard?  According to Dr. Smith, the maniple (a subdivision of the Roman legion) consisting of either 120 or 60 men “furnished…for the tribune to whom it was specially attached…two guards…of four men each, who kept watch, some in front of the tent and some behind, among the horses.” (Smith, William, DGRA)
  • If it was a Jewish temple guard, it was such that: “At night guards were placed in twenty four stations about the gates and courts.  Each guard consisted of ten men; so that all two hundred and forty Levites and thirty priests were on duty every night.” (Edersheim, TMS)
  • Also, the discipline of the temple guard was such that: “During the night the ‘captain of the Temple’ made his rounds.  On his approach the guards had to rise and salute him in a particular manner.  Any guard found asleep when on duty was beaten, or his garments were set on fire – a punishment, as we know, actually awarded.  Hence the admonition to us who, as it were, are here on Temple guard, ‘Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments’ [Rev. 16:15].” (Edersheim)

Matt. 26:56; Mark 14:50; Luke 23:49 show that Jesus’ disciples fled, and his friends stood afar.

  • Jewish rabbi Pinchas Lapide on the transformation of the disciples: “This scared, frightened band of the apostles which was just about to throw away everything in order to flee in despair to Galilee; when these peasants, shepherds, and fishermen, who betrayed and denied their master and then failed him miserably, suddenly could be changed overnight into a confident mission society, convinced of salvation and able to work with much more success after Easter than before Easter…” (Lapide, RJ)
  • “They [the disciples] believed Him to be dead, and they did not expect Him to rise again from the dead – at least, in our accepted sense of it.  Of this there is abundant evidence from the moment of His Death, in the burial-spices brought by Nicodemus, in those prepared by the women, in the sorrow of the women at the empty tomb, in their supposition that the Body had been removed, in the perplexity and bearing of the Apostles, in the doubts of so many, and indeed in the express statement: ‘For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.’” (Edersheim)
  • “…the disciples had nothing to gain by lying and starting a new religion.  They faced hardship, ridicule, hostility, and martyr’s deaths.  In light of this, they could have never sustained such unwavering motivation if they knew what they were preaching was a lie.  The disciples were not fools and Paul was a cool-headed intellectual of the first rank.  There would have been several opportunities over three to four decades of ministry to reconsider and renounce the lie.  Religion had its rewards for them, but those rewards came from a sincere belief that what they were living for was true.” (Moreland, SSC)
  • “When Jesus was crucified, his followers were discouraged and depressed.  They no longer had confidence that Jesus had been sent by God, because they believed anyone crucified was accursed by God.  They also had been taught that God would not let his Messiah suffer death.  So they dispersed.  The Jesus movement was all but stopped in its tracks.” (J.P. Moreland, PH.D.)

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