- The Women and the Empty Tomb (Mark 16:1–8; parallels Matthew 28:1–10; Luke 24:1–11)
- Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple at the Tomb (Luke 24:12; John 20:1–10)
- Mary Magdalene and the Risen Lord (John 20:11–18; Mark 16:9–11[Longer Ending])
- Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35; Mark 16:12–13[Longer Ending])
- First Appearances to the Disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36–48; parallel Mark 16:14[Longer Ending]; John 20:20–25)
- Jesus Later Appears to Thomas (John 20:26–29)
- The Purpose of the Gospel according to John (John 20:30–31)
The Women at the Tomb: Mark 16:1–8; Matthew 28:1–15; Luke 24:1–11
Because of the important contributions of each of the Synoptic accounts of the empty tomb, we have included all three here. The earliest account from Mark is also—at least in the most secure manuscript traditions—the shortest, leaving the women who came to the tomb fleeing it amazement. Matthew’s version provides the additional detail of an angel descending to remove the stone that blocked the tomb’s entrance, frightening the guards. It also records an appearance of the Risen Lord as the women went to tell the other disciples that the tomb was empty. In many ways Luke’s is the most refined, and it also includes an element that we will see is common to John’s account, that of Peter’s visit to the empty tomb.
See the discussion in Greater Love Hath No Man, 212–218.
1After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week dawned, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2Then look, a great earthquake occurred! For an angel of the Lord, who had descended from heaven and come to the tomb, dislodged the stone and sat on top of it. 3Now his face was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4The men who were on guard were shaken out of fear of him, and they became like dead men. In response, the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here, for he has risen just as he said. Come, see the place where he lay! 7Now go quickly and tell his disciples that he has been raised from the dead, and look, he is going ahead of you into Galilee! There you will see him. Look, I have told you!”
8Then after they had quickly left the tomb, with both fear and great joy they ran to make the proclamation to his disciples. 9Then look, Jesus met them, saying “Rejoice!” When they came up to him, they took hold of his feet and worshipped him. 10Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go, proclaim to my brothers that they should go to Galilee. There they will see me.”
11Now as they were going, look, when some of the guard had gone into the city, they reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12After the chief priests had gathered with the elders and made a plan, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13saying, “This is what you should say: When his disciples came during the night, they stole him while we were sleeping,’ 14and if this is heard by the governor, we will reassure him and keep you out of trouble.” 15So after they had taken the money, they did as they had been directed, and this story has been spread widely among the Jews until today.
1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices that they had prepared. 2Then they found that the stone had been dislodged from the tomb. 3Yet when they entered it, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were uncertain as to what this meant, look, two men in gleaming clothing suddenly stood near them. 5Now while the women were afraid and were bowing their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why are you looking for one who is alive among the dead? 6He is not here but has risen! Remember what he said to you when he was still in Galilee, 7saying, ‘The Son of Man must be handed over into the power of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’” 8Then they remembered his predictions.
9When they had returned from the tomb, they proclaimed all these things to the Eleven and all the others. 10Now they were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them—they told the apostles, 11but these reports seemed to them to be nonsense, and they refused to believe them. 12Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb, but when he stooped down to look, he only saw the linen wrappings. Then he went home, wondering to himself about what had happened.
Mary Magdalene, the Empty Tomb, and the Risen Lord: John 20:1–18
John’s account of the events at the empty tomb that first Easter morning is different enough to warrant particular attention. First, it portrays Mary of Magdala coming to the tomb alone, without the other women. She informs the male disciples, which leads Peter and the Beloved Disciple to come to the tomb (although we have seen that Luke preserves an independent memory of Peter visiting the burial site). Second, it records the moving encounter of Mary with the Risen Lord, a unique scene with particular power and significant interpretive potential.
See the discussion in Greater Love Hath No Man, 218–224.
1On the first day of the week, early in the morning Mary of Magdala came to the tomb when it was yet dark, and she saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2She ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
3So Peter and the other disciple set out and came to the tomb. 4Now the two had been running together, but the other disciple ran more quickly than Peter and arrived at the tomb first. 5After he had stooped down to look, he saw the linen wrappings lying there, though he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter, who had been following him, arrived, went into the tomb, and saw the linen wrappings lying there 7as well as the face cloth, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who had arrived at the tomb first, also went in, and he both saw and believed, 9for they had not known before this time the scripture that he must rise again from the dead. 10Then the disciples went back to where they had been staying.
11Mary, however, remained standing there outside the tomb, mourning. As she mourned, she stooped to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you mourning?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
14After she had said these things, she turned herself around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you mourning? Whom are you looking for?” She, thinking that he was the gardener, said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” After she turned towards him, she said in Aramaic, “Rabbouni!” that is to say, “My Master!” 17Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to me! I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and to your God.’
18Mary of Magdala went, proclaiming to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord” and the things he had said to her.
Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus: Luke 24:13‒35
Unique to Luke is the episode about two disciples who encounter the Risen Lord on the road to Emmaus. This account is significant because, like the story about Mary of Magdala, it emphasizes the witness of everyday disciples rather than just the special apostolic witnesses of the remaining members of the Twelve.
See the discussion in Greater Love Hath No Man, 224–28.
13Now look, that same day two of them were traveling to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking together about all these things that had happened. 15Then it came about that while they were talking together and discussing it, Jesus himself, after he had come up to them, started walking with them. 16But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17He said to them, “What are these things that you are discussing as you walk along?” Then they stood still, looking downcast. 18One of them, Cleopas by name, said to him in response, “Are you only a visitor in Jerusalem, one who does not even know what has happened these past days?”
19Then he asked them, “What sort of things?” They answered him, “All about Jesus from Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in deed and in word before God and all the people. 20Also, how our chief priests and rulers handed him over to a death sentence and crucified him, 21but we had been hoping that he himself was about to redeem Israel. Yet as it happens, it is now the third day since all these things happened. 22But now, some women from our group have confused us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning 23and did not find his body there, they came back, telling us they had even seen a vision of angels, who told them that he was alive! 24And some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and they found it just as they women had described, but they did not see him.”
25Then he himself said to them, “O, how foolish you are and slow in heart to believe all the things that the prophets have declared! 26Didn’t the Christ need to suffer these things to enter into his glory?” 27Then, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he began to explain everything about himself in the scriptures.
28Then they came up to the village where they had been heading, but he walked as if he would go farther. 29But they prevailed upon him, saying, “Please stay with us, because it is nearly evening and the day is waning.” So he went inside to stay with them. 30And it came about that while he was reclining at dinner with them, after he took some bread, he blessed it, and after he broke it, he gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. 32So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts burning within us as he spoke to us along the road, and as he opened up the meaning of the scriptures to us?”
33Getting up that very hour, they returned to Jerusalem and found the Eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34who told them, “The Lord has arisen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35And these men, for their part, related all the things that had transpired along the road, and especially how he was recognized by them in the breaking of bread.
First Appearances to the Disciples in Jerusalem: Luke 24:36–49; John 20:19–31
See the discussion in Greater Love Hath No Man, 228–232.
36Then, while they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood in the middle of them and said to them, “Peace be with you!” 37But they, alarmed and frightened, thought they were seeing a spirit. 38He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why are doubts arising in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet, how it is really me! Touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40After he had said this, he presented his hands and feet to them.
41While they could hardly believe it because of their joy and were still marveling, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42So they gave him a piece of broiled fish. 43After he picked it up, he ate it in front of them. 44Next he said to them, “This is the meaning of the sayings that I spoke to you while I was still with you, how all that was written about me in the law of Moses, in the prophets, and in the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened up their minds so that they could understand the scriptures. 46He told them, “Thus it was written that the Christ must suffer and rise again on the third day 47and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, starting in Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49Look, I am sending what my Father has promised to you, but stay here in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
19When it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, and when the doors of the room were shut where the disciples were because of fear of “the Jews,” Jesus came, stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you!” 20After he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy because they had seen the Lord! 21So he said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father sent me, I also am sending you.” 22After he had said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23Whosever sins you forgive will be forgiven for them; whosever sins you retain will be retained.”
24Yet Thomas, one of the Twelve, who was called “the Twin,” was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord!” He said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand in his side, I will never believe.”
26Then eight days later the disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were shut, Jesus came, stood in the middle of them, and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Bring your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand here and put it in my side. Stop being unbelieving but be believing!” 28Thomas responded and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Fortunate are those who do not see yet believe.”
30Now there were many other signs that Jesus performed in the presence of his disciples, which have not been written in this book. 31But these have been written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.