And when [Pilate] learned from the centurion that [Jesus] was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph” (Mark 15:45).
The resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of the gospel, for it is the resurrection that settles forever the identity of Jesus. The first sermon preached by the disciples after Jesus’ death mentions the resurrection three times. It is mentioned twice in the second sermon (Acts 3) and once in each of Peter’s two speeches before the Jewish ruling council (Acts 4 & 5).
Paul wrote that the resurrection is the declaration (the proof) that Jesus was the Son of God (Romans 1:4).
Of course, all that, and the total of Christianity, becomes but a lie if in fact Jesus didn’t really die, and over the years several theories have been offered. One is that Jesus didn’t really die, but just fainted – after all, no one died from crucifixion in just three hours. It was usually a long painful death, lingering for days before dying from exposure, thirst, or asphyxiation. In the cool of the tomb he revived and made his escape (though how he got past the guards is left unexplained).
Mark tells us that when Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus, Pilate was surprised Jesus had already died. He sent an officer to make sure – someone experienced in the death business. The report was “yes.” Jesus was dead.
But he didn’t stay dead, and that’s the power behind the “good news” of the Jesus story. His resurrection provides hope for our own. “Through Christ you believe in God, who raised Jesus from the dead and glorified him, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:21).