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This is the New King James text of the passages.
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Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-13;    Listen Podcast
Luke 24:1-35; John 20:1-18


In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:

First of all...know your Marys
As we read this passage, it is important to know that we are dealing with three different Marys here. To properly gain this perspective, take a look at John 19:25 (see notes), "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene."

So, for the purpose of today's reading, let's number them as follows:

Mary #1, the mother of Jesus, is not mentioned in any of the four gospels in their account of the resurrection of Jesus.

The discovery of the missing stone (Matthew 28:1-4; Mark 16:1-4; Luke 24:1-2; John 20:1)

Matthew 28
Mark 16
Luke 24
John 20
1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.
2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large.

1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.
2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.

1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

Matthew gives some detail regarding the earthquake that had moved the stone away from the opening of the sepulchre and the reaction of the guards when it happened. It's after daybreak on Sunday morning, and the tomb is open. While John just mentions Mary Magdalene in his account, Matthew and Mark mention that Mary (Jesus' aunt) was there also. But Luke reports down in verse 24:10 that there were other women present at the tomb site as well.

John beats Peter in a foot race (John 20:2-10)

John 20

2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
3 ¶ Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.
4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.
5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,
7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.
8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Only John includes this. Before actually entering the tomb herself, Mary Magdalene runs to get Peter and John. "The other disciple" (verse 8) is the modest way by which John refers to himself in his gospel (along with the not-so-modest "disciple, whom Jesus loved" in verse 2). It's mildly amusing to me that John wants us to know that he's in better physical condition than Peter - beats him to the tomb. Yup, it's empty all right. The grave clothes are there, but Jesus has checked out.

Up to this point, Jesus has not appeared after his resurrection. Peter and John see evidence of his resurrection, and the Marys have not yet entered into the tomb.

The Marys enter the tomb (Matthew 28:5-8; Mark 16:5-8; Luke 24:3-8; John 20:11-13)

Matthew 28
Mark 16
Luke 24
John 20
5 ¶ But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
8 ¶ So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
6 ¶ But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
8 ¶ So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.

5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee,
7 saying, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”
8 ¶ And they remembered His words.

11 ¶ But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.
12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” ¶ She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

Matthew and John specify that the men were angels, while Mark and Luke simply refer to them as men. It was one of these angels at the sepulcher who invites the two Marys to enter, but Mark just records an encounter inside the sepulcher with "a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment." Luke reports the event from within the sepulchers in 24:4, "And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments." At this point they are informed that Jesus has resurrected.

Jesus speaks to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; John 20:14-17)

Mark 16
John 20
9 ¶ Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.
14 ¶ Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” ¶ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 ¶ Jesus said to her, “Mary!” ¶ She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
17 ¶ Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

After her conversation with the two angels, Mary Magdalene gets another surprise. When she turns around, there's Jesus. Not until after a brief conversation does she recognize that she's talking with Jesus. He does instruct her not to cling to him at this point because he has not yet ascended to Heaven. The KJV translates the Greek "aptou" as "touch" while the NKJV translates it as "cling to" here in verse 17. For those who are convinced that the exact word here is important, I quote the renown Greek scholar of the late 19th/early 20th century, A. T. Robertson, when he says in his definitive work entitled "Word Pictures in the New Testament" the following: "Present middle imperative in prohibition with genitive case, meaning 'cease clinging to me' rather than 'Do not touch me.'" Specifically, Jesus had resurrected from "the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40, see notes), but had not yet ascended to Heaven. This brings up an interesting discussion when coupled with some other New Testament passages.

Consider the following:
For a complete discussion on the passages listed below, click here to see the article entitled "Paradise Relocated."

Based on these scriptures, it is logical to conclude that the folks saved prior to the resurrection were being held in Hades where Christ showed up after his crucifixion and preached to the inhabitants there. After three days he led "a band of captives" i.e. the saved-prior-to-the-resurrection folks to Heaven with a stop on earth to visit Mary (but she's not to cling to him), at which time some of these traveling-to-Heaven saints wandered into Jerusalem. The next time he appears, it's ok to touch him. For a complete discussion on the passages listed above, click here to see the article entitled "Paradise Relocated."

Jesus meets the women en route (Matthew 28:9)

Matthew 28
9 ¶ And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

Matthew records that Jesus met the double Marys "as they went to tell His disciples." They embrace him at this point in time. This means that the no-touch restriction of John 20:17 is no longer in effect. Therefore, at this point in time, he must have already ascended and returned again per the discussion in the previous section (see above).

The women report to the disciples (Matthew 28:10; Mark 16:10-11; Luke 24:9-12; John 20:18)

Matthew 28
Mark 16
Luke 24
John 20
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.
11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.
11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.
12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
18 ¶ Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Luke reports in verse 10 that there are several women who go back to report their findings to the disciples. You mean they thought the women were making this stuff up? Yup - afraid so! Luke reports that Peter went to the tomb to see what the fuss was all about - apparently his second trip of the day, but this time without John. However, even after this second trip, he apparently isn't certain what it all means.

The evidence of their unbelief (verse 11) is the fact that they did not pack up and head for Galilee as they were instructed to do in Mark 16:7 and again in 10. We see in Mark 16:14 (see notes) that Jesus finally has to go to them in Jerusalem where they were gathered.

I smell a bribe (Matthew 28:11-15)

Matthew 28
11 ¶ Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.
12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’
14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.”
15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Matthew gives us a little bit of insight into another issue regarding the resurrection of Jesus. The guards at the tomb are in a little bit of a predicament here; they've lost the body. When you're primary function is to guard something, and you lose it, that's serious. Apparently these were Temple guards - not Roman guards, according to Matthew 27:65 (see notes). That's why they report back to the Jewish leaders for a what-do-we-do-now meeting. Solution: if they will say that they took a snooze at which time the disciples came and stole the body, the Jewish leaders will (1) pay them a bribe for lying and (2) cover for them with the Roman authorities if they are asked. "What a deal!" the guards must have thought, "We don't have to die after all!" Plus, they had a little extra spending money. Matthew wants us to know that this bribe is common knowledge among the Jews (verse 15).

Two of Jesus' disciples meet him on the road (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35)

Mark 16
Luke 24
12 ¶ After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.
13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.
13 ¶ Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
17 ¶ And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
18 ¶ Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
19 ¶ And He said to them, “What things?” ¶ So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.
21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us.
23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.
24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
25 ¶ Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”
27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
28 ¶ Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther.
29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.
30 ¶ Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
32 ¶ And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

Luke covers this account exhaustively. He records the teaching session by Jesus for these two men (disciples, but not of the eleven). The initial encounter is on the road to Emmaus, a city about six or so miles away from Jerusalem. We see in Luke 24:33 that these two men went back to Jerusalem to report everything that had been told to them by Jesus to the eleven apostles. This appearance takes place on resurrection Sunday as well as the report back to the eleven. It would appear that these two disciples (one was named Cleopas, about whom we know nothing) did not know with whom they were enjoying fellowship until they broke bread with Jesus in verse Luke 24:30. At that point, they realized that they were communing with Jesus.

One verse in this passage might be easily overlooked with regard to its doctrinal value, Luke 24:27, "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." The phrase "beginning with Moses" is particularly significant inasmuch as it is difficult to readily identify which quotation from Moses looks forward to the Messiah. However, it was apparently common knowledge among the Jews in Jesus' day that Deuteronomy 18:15-22 (see notes) was a reference to the anticipated Messiah by Moses himself. Refer to the box to the right of this screen to get the fuller picture or click here to read the article in full screen.

.There's one more significant fact that should be emphasized once again here. The two Marys had been instructed in Mark 16:7 (see above) to tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee. That was to be the first time they would see Jesus. We can only assume that the Marys correctly relayed the message to the disciples, but the disciples did not leave; that's an obvious sign of the unbelief for which Jesus rebukes them in Mark 16:14 (see notes).