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When Jesus rose early on the first of the week…  Mark 16:9

Lesson #10 - Resurrection Morning

Sunday Morning


Jesus rose from the dead sometime before the women arrive at the tomb Sunday morning.  The posted guards are witnesses to the opening of the tomb attended by an earthquake, but none to the resurrection itself.  What we know for certain is that Jesus is already gone by early morning on the first day of the week. But when exactly did he rise from the dead?


The gospel of Mark seems to give us solid footing with the phrase:


When Jesus rose early on the first of the week…  Mark 16:9


From a western point of view this seems a clear indication of a Sunday morning resurrection.  However, it should be remembered that from a Jewish perspective…early the first of the week… really began at sundown late on Saturday.  As the Sabbath comes to a close… it is "early on the first of the week" even though we think of this as Saturday evening.  We tend to assume Jesus rose Sunday morning only because that is when the tomb was opened or discovered empty. There is no witness of when Jesus actually rose from the dead so we have to infer it prophetically.


 In the end, in order to be in compliance with the prophecy of Jonah, Jesus must be in the tomb at least 3 days and nights and rise on the third day. This would put the resurrection PRECISELY at twilight at the end of the weekly sabbath which also happens to be "early on the first of the week".


Chronology:  In the accounts of the visitations to the tomb, it appears that both Matthew & Luke have conflated one or more chronological events.  I attempted to separate and sequence these events by contrasting them with John’s account. John is very interested in timing and gives details, which help us. On the surface, John’s account appears to be “different” and Mary’s thinking in John’s account suggests that much of it occurred before the testimony by angels and the appearance of Jesus in Matthew and Luke. 


An earthquake occurs


An Angel rolls the stone away and sits on it, scares the guards to death, they leave & report. 


Mary Magdalene visits the tomb with the other Mary. At least one arrives while it is still dark


Mary sees the already open tomb and panics and thinks, “They took his body away” 


Mary runs to tell at least Peter & “the one Jesus loved” (John) maybe others are there.  She says, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb” 


Disciples run to tomb and see the grave clothes. John beats Peter to the tomb.


They go back to their homes, wondering what happened (John “believes” but not from scripture) 


Mary stays outside the tomb crying, devastated, bewildered.  Other women are around and at least two are inside the tomb.


Two angels suddenly stand next to the women inside and proceed to sit down. 


Women fall prostrate (Probably making some kind of noise from fear and shock) 


Mary looks into the tomb and sees two angels sitting (one at the head, one at the foot) 


Two angel ask Mary, “Why are you crying”?  She says, “They have taken my Lord away…”


She turns around and sees “the gardener”(Jesus in disguise)and asks him, “Where is the body?”


It is at this point that the 3 beings (2 angels and Jesus) begin to explain and reveal to Mary (Interesting to compare to Genesis 18:1)


The Angels explain that Jesus is risen


All the women head back to tell the disciples and Jesus suddenly appear 


(He is standing there as the gardener but “reveals” his identity as they are about to pass him by.)


Jesus says “Mary”


Mary Magdalene tells the disciples (along with the other women) of his appearance to her


Peter runs down there again but finds only the linen strips as before.


This depiction of events assumes all the Gospels are accurate in every detail and must fit together in some logical pattern. However, it also allows each Gospel writer the poetic license to “smooth out” or “truncate” his version of the story to emphasis the theological point without making his version inaccurate or misinformed.  John almost seems to make a point of not repeating the details given in the synoptic Gospels but fills in missing events. The actual scriptures may be seen nicely fitting in the following layout.  The order in which they were written remains in tact. 


Matthew (Chapter 28) Mark (16) Luke (Chapter 24) John (Chapter 20)

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.  Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes.  But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

When the Sabbath was over Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.


Note: They probably bought and prepare spices on Friday after the special Sabbath (1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) and before the weekly Sabbath on which they rested according to the commandment Luke 23:56.


Women arrive with spices to anoint Jesus body 


After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week…

Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise…

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning

…While it was still dark

(1st arrival)


Note: Still dark vs. after sunrise conflict? It is possible that they agreed to meet at the tomb and didn’t necessarily all travel together or arrive at exactly the same time. Thus the witness perspective is slightly different from an individual perspective. Also Mary arriving early matches her emotional investment.

Mary Magdalene & the “other” Mary went…

…The women

…Mary Magdalene


Note: Matthew & Luke truncate 1st & 2nd arrival of women.


…To look at the tomb

…They were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb?”

…Took spices they had prepared…

…Went to the tomb…


The Tomb Opened by an Angel 


There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes as white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.


…And saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.



The Women Run to Tell the Disciples (1st time)

So she (Mary) came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” John 20:2



Note:  Timing Key: If Jesus had already appeared to Mary, this statement makes no sense.


So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.  Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.  Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb.  He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head.  The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.  Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside.  He saw and believed.  (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)  Then the disciples went back to their homes…


Appearance of Angels

…But Mary stood outside the tomb crying.

As they entered the tomb…


…But when they (other women not Mary M) entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in cloths that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed their faces down to the ground…  (The angels sit down).

…they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side and they were alarmed.

As she (Mary hears a commotion) wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.


The Angels Speak to the Women


Note: Matthew makes a sudden transition here (as in chapter 21:12 when he switches days without telling us.) I believe here is another case where Matthew makes a smooth transition forward in time.  Peter & John have come and gone by now.


They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying”  “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” John 12:13


“Do not be afraid for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.

Also Mark 16:6 

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? 

Jesus Speaks Incognito

At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman” he said, “Why are you crying?  Who are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she says, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Angels Speak Again

(Mary looks back into the tomb where and the other women are and the 2 angels sit)

He is not here; he is risen!

Also Mark 16:6

Also Luke 24:6


Note:  “Not here”. Jesus the “gardener” is standing just outside the tomb. “Here” must refer to inside the tomb.  The point is that Jesus is not dead but risen!


… Just as he said.  Come see the place where he lay.

Also Mark 16:7

 (Angels talk as they show them around)

Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”

Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.

Also Mark 16:7 

….just as he told you.

There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Then they remembered his words.


So the women hurried away from the tomb, 

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.  They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

…Afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.


Jesus Reveals Himself


Suddenly Jesus met them.

“Greetings” he said.

 Jesus says, “Mary”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”

They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.


Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me for I have not yet returned to the Father.  Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.


The women report a 2nd time and  Peter makes a 2nd trip to the tomb


When they came back from the tomb they told all these things to the Eleven and all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the Mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.  But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.  Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Conclusion:  This is a synopsis, but I believe that it does justice the integrity of all 4 Gospel accounts.  The “two women reports and two visits of Peter to the tomb” is a non-traditional theory, but it is plausible and leaves room for all the emotions, statements and actions of that morning.  I certainly like it better than those who would elevate one Gospel over the other as the “real” story.

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