She made a false assumption. Mary came to the tomb and
found it barren. From her perspective, there was only
one plausible explanation for why this was so.
“They have taken the Lord…” (John 20:2b). “They”
whomever they were, had breached the burial chamber,
stolen the lifeless body of Christ, and then moved it
to an undisclosed location.
Atheist Richard Carrier, while neither willing nor able
to actually produce specific culprits for the burglary,
maintains that Mary was actually right./1 He asserts
that the empty tomb evidenced a theft, not a
But take just a moment to analyze Carrier’s flawed
logic. Truth should never be afraid of honest
There are only two possibilities as to who might have
stolen Jesus’ body from the tomb. Either the enemies of
Christ did so, or the friends of Christ did so.
But 1) did the enemies, specifically the Jewish
religious leaders, steal Jesus’ body and–2) will that
answer stand up to real scrutiny?
Matthew’s inspired record says the chief priests and
Pharisees met with Pilate in an effort to foil any
attempts at taking Jesus’ body in the first place. They
said, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how
that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’
Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until
the third day…” (Matthew 27:63-64a).
These men were not worried that Jesus would actually be
resurrected; they were fearful that folks such as
Joseph, Nicodemus, Mary (Matthew 27:57-61) and perhaps
others, might stage a sort of mock resurrection in
order to propagate what Jesus had foretold (cf. Matthew
16:21; 20:17; 26:28; Mark 8:31; Luke 24:44).
They thought they had finally quelled Jesus and his
doctrine and wanted to make sure it wasn’t rekindled
Pilate, in keeping with the religious leader’s pressing
request, secured the tomb and gave permission to set a
guard (Mattew 27:65-66, NIV; Matthew 28:11-15).
Now think about it. Why would the avowed enemies of
Jesus go to all of the trouble of preventing the theft
of his body, but then engage in the theft themselves?!
Why would they twist Pilate’s arm to protect the tomb
from any intrusion, but then steal what they had tried
so hard to secure?! What would prompt them to allegedly
pay off the security force, break the seal, and then
take possession of what they wanted nobody to acquire?!
Furthermore, when the apostles later preached a
resurrected Lord during the early days of the church
(cf. Acts 4:1ff), Why didn’t the religious leaders
simply produce the dead corpse of Christ?!
If they had, in fact, stolen the body, why didn’t they
display it for all to see? In so doing they would have
not only exposed the lie being propagated by Jesus’
followers, but they would have effectively killed
Christianity dead in its tracks!
The obvious reason the opponents of Jesus didn’t
produce his body was because they didn’t have it in the
Both Mary and Richard Carrier were mistaken. Nobody
took the body of Jesus. He was raised from the
dead–just as the Bible says (Acts 1:3; 2:32; 4:33).
–by Mike Benson
1/ Richard Carrier, “The Plausibility of
Theft,” in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave,
edited by Jeff Lowder and Robert Price, 349-368