Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ the religion of Christianity would be a waste of time. He promised that his physical body would be raised up. The authorities had merely to produce Jesus’ body and his followers would have immediately disbanded. But try as they might, no body could be located.
A writ of habeas corpus (literally to “produce the body”) is a court order to a person holding someone in custody to deliver the imprisoned, living or dead individual to the court issuing the order. Many state constitutions provide for writs of habeas corpus, as does the U.S. Constitution.
Of course, the body may be dead as well as alive. The Roman government could have asked the Jewish leaders to produce the body of Jesus. However, the Romans didn’t care. This was a local religious issue to them and of no concern. But the Jewish leaders needed that body to prove their rectitude in killing Jesus
in the first place. Both Romans and the Jews would have their justification – that Jesus of Nazareth was a fraud.
But without a body their case is lost, and this God-man was exactly who He said He was. It is the most startling fact of the whole gospel story; of anything ever done or said in Israel, the one fact remains that His corpse was never found, and that fact stands today.
Jesus claimed that if this temple, referring to his physical body, was destroyed it would be raised up in 3 days. (Matthew 27:40) The Bible believes the physical body is your temple, which is why it must serve only God and not be violated by sin. But people scoffed, and tried to insist he was referring to the Temple in Jerusalem.
This is not your local police here. The Roman government was an army of occupation and could do as it pleased in Israel. The soldiers had the authority to go from door to door whipping and interrogating the locals. The body, were it available, had to be in this area. No human power could have spirited it away. But the Romans did not care about this local matter, the Jewish authorities had little power to search and Pilate had turned the whole bloody mess over to the Jews in any event. They did have cash so they bribed some men to make up a story.
The seriousness of the claim of Jesus is demonstrated by the fact that they had two soldiers guarding the tomb. These men could have been hanged if the tomb and its contents had been violated. It was common enough for soldiers to lose their lives if their post had not been maintained as we see in the book of Acts 16:27. Even today in Japan public officials who fail in their job may offer to commit suicide.
This was not especially believable since the Jews had their own authority over the people. If a body were somewhere, even a fake corpse of some man recently crucified might have fulfilled their demand. The two men who were crucified with Jesus could not be substituted because they had not been shredded with thongs with metal tips; they had no crown of thorns and a bloody scalp. His body was a grisly sight; theirs was not.
But still – no body. It could not be found, reproduced, or faked. Whatever Jesus was, he was not dead.
The disciples knew this and were in hiding. Jesus meanwhile is walking around town greeting people and raising up old Jewish saints from their graves. This kind of stuff cannot be contained even by cash payments. A few of his disciples had seen him, plus another 500 or more. Of this group only 120 met in an upper room. That was the “new” born-again Body of Jesus, His disciples in our midst from that day until this one.
The Resurrection of the Body of Jesus is the foundation of our faith as well as our personal promise of everlasting ife. Many religions have powerful charismatic leaders; only Christianity has a resurrected one.