Day 18 - Gospel accounts of the empty tomb
- Reading: Matthew 28:1-7, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John:1-18
The four Gospel accounts of the empty tomb are different. At first this might frustrate you. To be honest, it still does for me a bit, however, it does give me confirmation that the four Gospels were written independently and not copycat versions. It gives me the notion that they are just four different viewpoints of the same story. It’s like if you go watch a theater play with four friends and you come home by yourself and tell your husband what you watched, you are going to miss pieces. But, if you meet up with your husband with your four friends, the four of you will find bits and pieces of the whole story to tell to create a more thorough picture of what the play was like.
Except here we are talking about the resurrection of our Jesus! The Messiah, not just a mere play. And people are retelling a life altering, body shocking, mind blowing experience! They literally just watched a man they loved, respected, cared for and followed for nearly three years get brutally crucified
Needless to say. These four accounts are different, but different in such a good way that gives us hope of authenticity. Yet similar enough, where we can put an accurate picture together between the four Gospel accounts.
So let’s try and do just that.
First we know there are women. We don’t know exactly how many but we know there are a group of them. Even the Gospel John references more than one woman. We read about only Mary Magdalene but references “we” in John 20:2.
The women went out at sunrise on Sunday. Why then? They kept the Sabbath as the law required.
The women went back to prepare Jesus’ body for burial with spices.
There was a massive stone, and it was rolled away. Most accounts say it was already rolled away except for Matthew.
There were Angels. Matthew and Mark mention one angel, Luke references 2. Each account has the story of the angels slightly different. But each mentions two things which are the two key points to remember in the different accounts. 1). There were divine, heavenly angels and 2) they came to bring a message. “He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead!” (Queue music, He arose, He Arose! hallelujah Christ arose)
Matthew references the guards falling into a dead faint.
The women ran back to tell the disciples the Good News.
Then each account ends a little different:
Matthew references Jesus meeting the women as they ran back to the disciples. Mark simply states they were bewildered and didn’t tell anyone except the disciples. Luke tells us that the women rushed back to the disciples and Peter ran off to see the empty tomb.
And I love John’s account. The women run back and tell Peter and “the one who Jesus loved”. aka John. I love how he is humble enough to not mention his name but puts a little note in there that he outran Peter. #winning. I can only assume this is a little biblical humor or jab at his brother in Christ. Sounds a little like my sisters and I. Humble yet competitive.
And then John tells of a beautiful account of Mary Magdalene and Jesus. Maybe the other women were still there as Matthew referenced and this is the same account. Again, who knows? But we do know again the women ran back to tell the Angels’ Message to the disciples. And with this message I imagine the floodgates of Jesus’ predictions of his death and promises of his truth begin to resonate and begin to make a little more sense.
The empty tomb, the angels, the resurrection, is what makes the Gospel story beautiful. It is the Gospel story. Without it we really have no hope. This single act is what changed the course of history for Christians. Without it we just have the death of Jesus, but with it, we have a Savior who conquered evil.