There are many references in the gospels to large crowds that followed Jesus:
24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan. (Mat 4:24-25 KJV)
35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Mat 9:35-36 KJV)
And rising up, He went from there to the region of Judea, and beyond the Jordan; and crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them. (Mar 10:1 NAS)
29 And as the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah. (Luk 11:29 NAS)
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. (Luk 4:14-15 KJV)
37 And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about. (Luk 4:37 KJV)
15 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. (Luk 5:15 KJV)
The crowds believed Jesus worked authentic miracles, and allegedly stayed around him so long that they neglected to eat:
30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:
31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. (Mat 15:30-32 KJV)
If Jesus achieved that level of fame by doing authentic miracles as opposed to parlor tricks, this strongly anticipates that his death would have been followed by great crowds flocking to this grave. No such luck. Jesus’ death was a public spectacle, thus apologists cannot justify his lonely grave site by saying maybe most of his followers didn’t know what happened to him:
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the multitude any one prisoner whom they wanted.
16 And they were holding at that time a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.
17 When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
18 For he knew that because of envy they had delivered Him up.
19 And while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and to put Jesus to death.
21 But the governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”
22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let Him be crucified!”
23 And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”
24 And when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.”
25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Mat 27:15-25 NAS)——-cf. Mark 15:8, Luke 23:23
A crowd saw Judas betray Christ:
47 While He was still speaking, behold, a multitude came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. (Luk 22:47 NAS)
Jesus’ popularity concerned Pilate enough that a guard was placed at the tomb of Jesus:
62 Now on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate,
63 and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’
64 “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.”
66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. (Mat 27:62-66 NAS)
Peter says the Jews knew about the miracles of Jesus:
22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— (Act 2:22 NAS)
In spite of all this alleged popularity of Jesus and public knowledge of his death, all 4 gospels make clear that not much more than a few women and several disciples attended his grave site. Matthew 28 says the grave was attended by the two Marys and the disciples. The textually undisputed parts of Mark 16 say the grave was attended by the two Marys + Salome. Luke 23-24 says the grave was attended by several woman and Joseph of Arimathea. John 20 says Mary, Peter and John attended the tomb.
Apologists may trifle and say “just because it doesn’t say lots of people flocked to his tomb, doesn’t mean they didn’t!” Yeah, and just because I never said I flew to the moon, doesn’t mean I didn’t.
The tomb story of the gospels makes clear that Jesus’ grave was neither attended by anything close to the “great multitudes” the gospels elsewhere state had followed Jesus, nor that any such multitude tried to so attend. For these reasons, it appears that signs Jesus performed that gained him popularity, were just parlor tricks that were sufficient to make him popular, but insufficient to make the ‘crowds’enshrine his memory as often happens to popular religious leaders.
Another explanation is that Jesus’ grave site was rather lonely because he never did have too many followers during his life, and the gospel texts that attribute large crowds of followers to him, are merely exaggerating his popularity, not too different from a t.v. advertisement for Benny Hinn.