Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
In the Garden…
Seemingly the women and the men are working at cross purposes toward the same end: annointing of Christ's body before burial. The women and also Nicodemus & Joseph of Arimethia want to prepare it. (John 19) Since Nicodemus and Joseph were associated with the Jewish leaders, the women (as we say here in the South) had no truck with them so separate preparations were made. Since Joseph asked for Jesus' body and the tomb was his, this is most likely why he and Nicodemus were able to prepare Jesus' body for the burial before the women got finished with purchasing the spices and other preparations.
When the Sabbath was over, they were then free to finish their task which had been seemingly interrupted by the Sabbath. Significant because there was no need for the one hundred pounds of spices because Jesus body would not see corruption (Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31, Acts 13:34, Acts 13:37).
Matthew 28 records the earthquake. The stone was rolled away to reveal the empty tomb. When they woke up the Roman guards were "as dead". Not just paralyzed with fear but knocked unconscious by what they'd seen. Please note this is similar to the term sleeping that indicates ceasing of physical activity. It could be the equivalent of coma, sleep, catatonic state, or being dead.
Mark, Luke and John don't mention the guards so evidently the guards ran away after coming awake and seeing that the tomb was empty because in Rome, if whatever was entrusted to a soldier’s care became tainted, ruined, lost, or undone it meant death to that soldier - this could be significant because if a person knows the empty tomb is a supernatural happening, but rejects it and the risen Lord, then death is inevitable.
Enter the women after the guards fled.
Mark 16:5 mentions one angel (the one that speaks to the women) but Luke 24:4-7 mentions both angels and what they say to the women. "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" (I just adore that verse!) The women remembered Jesus' words after the angels reminded them of them. They then run to inform the disciples.
The disciples were skeptical at first (John 20:4). Peter and John ran to check their story. John arrived first, but Peter entered the empty tomb. (John 20:6). John specifically mentions that they saw the empty linen and His head covering was folded up laying on the burial slab. This is proof that Jesus had risen (John 20:6-8; Luke 24:12) because the folded head covering meant a deliberate act of orderly neatness—rising, folding, placing the napkin—as opposed to a willy-nillyl tossing of it to the ground if the body had been kidnapped by body snatchers, or taking it still wrapped around the head of the body. John and Peter left immediately the tomb immediately to inform the others of what they had discovered.
Meanwhile back in the Garden, Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb, and was standing outside weeping when Christ suddenly appeared to her (John 20:11-18). That was His first appearance (Mark 16:9). Sometime soon after that, He met the other women on the road and appeared to them as well (Matthew 28:9-10). Later that day He appeared to two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32; Mark 16:12-13) and then He appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34) then to the other disciples (1 Corinthians 15:5) without Thomas (Luke 24:36-43; Mark 16:14; John 20:19-25). Then eight days later Jesus appeared in the room with Thomas present (John 20:26-31). He appeared to seven disciples by the shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-25); to more than 500 disciples, perhaps on a mountain in Galilee, or perhaps in a succession of appearances (1 Corinthians 15:6); to James (1 Corinthians 15:7); to the apostles when He ascended into heaven (Acts 1), and then to all the apostles as recorded in Matthew 28:16-20 and the first chapter of Acts.
What I find hard to understand is that in Matthew 28:17, he records that they worshiped Him but some doubted. Why? Why did they doubt what their own eyes were telling them?
I hope you and others find this helpful. There may be other ways to harmonize the accounts. The point is, as ChristNU said, it can be done. If harmony can be shown, there is no contradiction, only apparent contradiction. Note that I disagree about the first visit to the tomb by Peter & John in John 20:11ff. I don't think either believed in the resurrection at that point, but did believe Mary's account that the body was missing. (See John 20:9 & Mark 16:11-14).
Below is how Thomas Jefferson assembled the happenings in the Garden from the entombment to the ascension of Jesus in Acts 1. I have lost the reference to where I found this, although I know it was someone in a Christian forum that I frequented regularly back in 2003 or 2004 I think.
A. Dark to dawn-Women leave for the Tomb Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-3Lk. 16:1-16:1-24:1; John 20:1a
A1. Jesus rises. Acts 2:31
B. Earthquake, stone rolled away, guards fear, faint, flee Matthew 28:2-4
C. Resurrected saints go to the city Matthew 27:53
D. Women find the empty tomb Mark 16:4; Luke 2:2-3; John 20:1
E. Mary Magdalene returns to Jerusalem and finds Peter/John John 20:2
F. Two "men" in dazzling white appear to frightened women Luke 24:4-8
G. Women find Angel in tomb with message Mt28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7;
H. Women leave tomb with message for disciples. Mt28:8; Mark 16:8
I. Peter & John at tomb, believe Mary (Jesus is missing) John 20:11-17
J. Frustrated Mary M. returns to tomb Mark 16:9 John 20:11-17
K. Jesus appears to women on way to disciple Mt: 28:9-19
L. Guards scheme with priests and elders Matthew 28:11-15
M. Women report at upper room & disciples Luke 24:9-11
N. Mary M. arrives at upper room Mk 16:10-11 John 20:18
O. Peter leaves for tomb 2time (still not convinced) Luke 24:12
P. Jesus appears also to Peter 1 Corinthians 15:5 Luke 24:34
Q. Cleopas and friend meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus Mark 16:12-13Lk 16:12-116:12-124:13-35
R. Jesus appears to 11 with Mattias; not Thomas Mark 16:14 Lk 24:36-43 John 20:19-25
S. Undesignated time before ascension, appears to 500 1 Corinthians 15:6
T. Week later, Jesus appears to 12 with Mattias and Thomas John 20:26-31
U. 2 weeks later, Jesus appears at sea of Galilee John 21:1-25
5:3 or 4 weeks Jesus commissioned the 12 on Galilean Mountain Matthew 28:16-20
W. 5th week, Jesus ascends from Olivet Acts 1:1-11Lk 1:1-11:1-124:46-53
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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