The Christian scriptures record an oral tradition, some 40 years in the making, that Jesus of Nazareth died from crucifixion but rose from the dead. The four accounts differ in so many details, one wonders what really happened, or even if it happened at all.
1. Jesus died.
And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last ( Mark 15:37)
2. Because the Sabbath approached, they found a cave nearby so that they could entomb Jesus quickly--even without proper preparation of the body.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb (Matthew 27:57-60)
A couple of female disciples followed to learn the location of the tomb so they could return after the Sabbath to properly prepare the body for burial.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb (Matthew 27:61)
Joseph and Nicodemus already prepared the body for a proper burial, eliminating the need for the female disciples to return to the tomb.
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-41).
3. After the Sabbath passed, two women arrive after sun had risen to anoint the body for burial.
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. ( Mark 16:1-2)
Before the sun rose, Mary came alone to the tomb. Because Nicodemus already prepared the body for burial, Mary brought no spices but only came to grieve.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. (John 20:1)
4. Two women--Mary Magdalene and the other Mary arrive to witness an earthquake, the stoned rolled away from the mouth of the tomb, and one angel sitting upon the stone. Although the tomb guards fainted with fear, the two women approached the scene.
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. (Matt. 28:1-4).
Three women--Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and Salome arrive to find the stone rolled back and no angel upon it. They entered the tomb to discover one angel and were alarmed.
And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. (Mark 16:3-5).
The women find the stone rolled back and no angel on it. They enter the tomb to discover two angels inside the tomb and became frightened.
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground. (Luke 24:2-5).
Mary Magdalene came alone to discover the stone rolled away, saw no angels, and ran . . .
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran . . . ( John 20:1-2)
5. The one angel sitting on the stone tells the women that Jesus has risen. He directs the women to tell the other disciples the good news of the resurrection and that they should go to Galilee to meet Jesus. As they leave, they run into Jesus, who greet them repeats the instructions given by the angels.
But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you." So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me." (Matthew 28:5-10)
One of two angels inside the tomb tells the women that Jesus has risen. He gives no instructions about meeting Jesus in Galilee. Neither do they run into Jesus as they run from the scene to tell the disciples the good news.
And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. ( Luke 24:5-9)
After Mary Magdalene, who initially saw no angels, told the disciples about the empty tomb, the disciples came and witnessed it for themselves. They returned home. Mary, still weeping by the tomb, then enters the tomb to see two angels. Then she turns to see the risen Jesus.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni." (John 20:11-16).
The only angel inside the tomb tells them Jesus has risen and that Jesus will meet his disciples in Galilee. Because of their fear, however, the women told no one.
And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:6-8).
He has risen!
Has he ?