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The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus

Don Stewart :: Did the Gardener Remove the Body of Jesus?

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Did the Gardener Remove the Body of Jesus? (The Lettuce Theory)

Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus – Question 11

The “lettuce theory” was one of the earliest explanations of the empty tomb by non-believers. It is similar to the wrong tomb theory. It can be summarized as follows.

The Lettuce Theory Explained

Supposedly the gardener at the tomb where Jesus was buried was upset with all the curiosity seekers who were trampling over his newly planted lettuce seeds. This caused him to remove the body from the tomb and bury it elsewhere. When visitors came to the now empty tomb they assumed that Jesus had risen from the dead. This explains why the body of Jesus was missing.

Response to the Lettuce Theory

The lettuce theory has many of the same problems as other theories. They include the following.

1. How Did He Get Past the Guards?

Even if such a lettuce garden existed, and this gardener wanted the people to stop trampling on his seeds, he still would have to get by the guard, remove the seal and the stone, steal the body, nicely wrap the grave clothes and leave them at the tomb and then rebury the body elsewhere. It is not very realistic to assume that he could have, or would have, done all of this.

2. Why Didn’t He Come Forward?

If the gardener had removed the body to keep visitors from ruining his lettuce seeds, then why didn’t he tell anyone? Why did he let the story about Jesus’ resurrection be told and retold in the same city, Jerusalem. Why didn’t he tell the authorities? He had nothing to gain by remaining silent. Furthermore, why didn’t the authorities question him; assuming his involvement in the matter? Certainly, to stop the Christians from gaining converts, the religious leaders would have sought every possible explanation to what happened to the body.

3. The Empty Tomb Did Not Cause Belief

We again emphasize it was not the empty tomb that caused the disciples to believe in the resurrection it was seeing the risen Christ. Merely removing the body does not explain the appearances of Jesus. Luke wrote the following about Jesus appearing to His disciples after His resurrection:

To the same apostles also, after his suffering, he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3 NET)

Over a forty day period the risen Christ appeared to His disciples. Luke says He provided many convincing proofs that He was alive. It is this that caused their belief.

The gardener taking the body of Jesus does not explain many other things. This includes His ascension into heaven, the disciple’s later miracles that are recorded in the Book of Acts, the conversion of Saul to Paul as well as the conversion of James, Jesus’ brother. In fact, the “lettuce theory” explains nothing.

A better explanation certainly needs to be found.

Summary – Question 11
Did the Gardener Remove the Body of Jesus? (The Lettuce Theory)

The idea that the gardener at the tomb of Jesus removed the body of Jesus from the tomb and buried it elsewhere was one of the earliest explanations of the empty tomb. However, even assuming there was such a person, the idea that he could get past the guards and remove the body, does not make sense. His actions would have seemingly been impossible.

Even if he was able to do such a thing, we are reminded that the empty tomb is not what caused belief in Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples believed in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead because they saw the risen Christ with their own eyes.

Furthermore, the idea that the body was taken by anyone cannot even begin to explain such things as Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul, the conversion of Jesus’ brothers who did not believe in Him before His resurrection and the subsequent events that occurred in the Book of Acts. This includes the miracle power that the apostles of Christ demonstrated.

In sum, the “lettuce theory” does not provide the answer to what happened to Jesus’ body or why the early church believed that He had risen from the dead.

Did the Women Go to the Wrong Tomb on Easter Sunday? ← Prior Section
Was There a Twin Brother of Jesus Who Appeared to Jesus' Disciples? Next Section →
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