(Original post by Okashira)
You made the statement that if they started a riot, they could be killed. Falling asleep on duty, and letting the disciples take the body, allowing them to continue to preach in Jesus' name, would cause a riot among the jewish leaders. Then the leaders would stir up the people, which would lead to a riot.
There were people within the Sanhedrin, who was for Jesus. Paul would have been one of them, as he was a pharisee. Nicodemus is another. So these guys were on the inside, and could have revealed the bribe to the disciples. It's not likely the guards would have been overcome. If the disciples took the body by force, more than likely there would have been casualties.
Yes, they were in Jerusalem, hiding. Afraid that they would be killed because of their association with Jesus. If they had successfully taken the body, they could have immediately began preaching that Jesus rose again. Yet, they didn't. They remained in hiding.
Of course, the information about them we are using, comes from the NT letters themselves. Yet, as I've been trying to point out to everyone who's responded to this thread, Matthew is making an extra-biblical claim as it were. He is referring to something that was widely known. So if we were alive in 40-62 AD, and we were reading Matthew's Gospel fresh off the printing press, whether or not we believed what Matthew was saying concerning Jesus resurrection/miracles/etc, we would all agree the jewish leaders did say the disciples took Jesus body. (Implying it was no longer in the tomb)
Or they had a better incentive. Return to their lives before Jesus came to them. Remember, it is modern scholars who are saying that Jesus never made any kind of extra-ordinary claim about being God's Son. Only this was a later embellishment by the disciples. If that were true, why didn't the disciples just return to their normal lives? All the religious leaders wanted was Jesus (which if He never made the claim He was the Son of God, it begs the question why did the chief priests wanted Jesus dead?), they probably didn't even remember what the disciples looked like. Jesus had over a hundred and more disciples. So them embellishing Jesus as an incentive isn't likely as the better option was to return to life as normal.
And again they had more incentive to just return to life as normal. If what modern scholars make of the historical Jesus is true, they definitely could have returned to life as normal. All the chief priests wanted was to get rid of Jesus, and they probably would have seen the disciples returning to life as normal and coming to the conclusion that Jesus wasn't the Messiah, as perfect.