A meeting with the elders was called [after the soldiers told them Jesus' tomb was empty], and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. They told the soldiers, "You must say, 'Jesus' disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.' If the governor hears about it, we'll stand up for you so you won't get in trouble." So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.
— Matthew 28:12-15 NLT
While the lack of courage of most of Jesus' disciples during his trial and crucifixion is horrible, it now serves a powerful purpose: How can such ordinary men and women, who were once so afraid, suddenly find the power, courage, and influence to change a whole world?
It's an important question. Is the resurrection of the disciples' hopes, dreams, courage, and passion more easily explained through their experiencing the resurrected Jesus or a plot to steal his body away in the middle of the night when the tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers and then claim he was raised?
The incredible demonstration of the resurrection of Jesus is not Jesus' appearance to Thomas, but the life change that accompanied all those who saw Jesus risen from the tomb! While enemies of Jesus may have tried to stop the message, the disciples couldn't help themselves. They couldn't contain what they had experienced. They had to tell about what they had seen and heard: Jesus is raised from the dead.
O Mighty Rock, King of the Ages, you have seen your children be evangelistic and passionate to spread your message of Good News. Please give us boldness and courage and passion to share the message of the Good News with those who have never yielded their lives in obedient faith. Please, Father, use me to bring others to the Lord. In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen.