Next we will examine the oldest explanation: the disciples (or others) came and stole the body from the tomb.
The is the oldest excuse as it is recorded in the New Testament as the story the Jewish leaders and Roman guards agreed to tell everyone.
Motivation is the key for this possibility. What motivation would the disciples (or anyone) have for stealing the body? Sure, the disciples wanted Jesus to be the Messiah. Jewish life during that period was filled with “messiahs.” Why would the disciples, many of whom used to be followers of other potential messiahs like John the Baptist, do anything different than what followers alwayd did at this point – mourn the loss of their leader and begin the search for the next messiah, hoping he would be the real one.
What could possible motivate them to stop cowering in a locked room, sneak past or overpower the guards, roll away the stone, grab the dead body and run away with it. Not to mention they would be violating Jewish law by doing that on Saturday and touching the dead body.
Then if they did steal the body, why whould they die for that lie. They would have known He was not alive. Why would they give up their lives for something that wouldn’t give them anything? It seems improbable that they would die to simply to keep a lie alive.
If they stole the body why go on and be put to death because of their belief in him? Why would they discard the thousands of years of Jewish tradition to try to prop up a new religion following a man they knew to be dead? It makes absolutely no sense.