If we're to believe the Gospels, Jesus explicitly and repeatedly told his disciples that he would be put to death, but would be raised on the third day (Mt 16:21-23, 17:22-23, 20:17-19; Mk 8:31-32; Lk 9:21-22, 18:31-33; Jn 14:18-20, 16:16-20). The disciples very much got the message, judging by their reported reactions (Mt 16:22, 17:23; Mk 8:33). But they sure didn't act that way after Jesus actually died.
- On Easter Sunday, a handful of disciples went to Joseph of Arimathea's new tomb. They were perplexed when they found the tomb empty (Mk 16:5; Lk 24:4; Jn 20:2, 9).
- Other disciples refused to believe the first reports of resurrection sightings (Mk 16:13; Lk 24:11; Jn 20:24-25).
- Mary Magdalene initially didn 't recognize Jesus when she encountered him. Neither did the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Jn 20:14; Lk 24:16).
- The disciples were downright terrified when they saw Jesus (Lk 24:5, 24:37; Mt 28:10).
These sure don't seem like the actions of people who had been told to expect Jesus to be raised from the dead. What's the deal?
It's an embarrassing inconsistency. The author of Luke's Gospel recognizes this and tries to explain it away: He claims that the disciples "understood nothing about all these things [i.e., Jesus's predictions]; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said" (Lk 18:34; see also 9:45).
I have a hard time buying that explanation. If Jesus really did foretell his resurrection, you would think at least some of the disciples would have been joyfully awaiting the event. It appears none of them did. Uneducated fishermen they might have been (certainly not all of them); even so, how could they not have grasped something as simple and stunning as "They're going to kill me, but on the third day I'll be raised."
In the words of Dr. Henry Lee, testifying as a DNA forensics expert for the defense at OJ Simpson's murder trial, "something not right here."