Four accounts of what happened on Resurrection Day are written by the apostles of Jesus. The accounts seem to vary widely.
One account has Mary Magdalene showing up alone at the tomb of Jesus in the darkness (wee hours of the morning) on Resurrection Day. Another has Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James (which is Jesus' mother), and Salome all showing up at the tomb, and it was after the rising of the sun. One account has Mary Magdalene saying the stone was already rolled away when she showed up, and another said the stone was not rolled away when she showed up.
One account has Mary seeing one angel at the tomb – another account says two angels were in the tomb. A third says only a “young lad” was there.
Later in the day, Jesus was reported to have entered the upper room where He met eleven apostles. Three accounts state that, but John’s account may indicate that one apostle was missing.
If there are inconsistencies in the Bible, why should any reader believe anything that was written? If some of the apostles…those closest to Christ, lied about events, why believe anything that any of them wrote?
Did the resurrection really take place, or was it all fabricated?
If parts of the Bible are wrong, especially whether there really was a resurrection, then all of Christianity is in jeopardy. Christians hang their belief system on what, then? Lies? Misconceptions? Error?
So, now we MUST explore the stories as given by these four apostles of Jesus: Luke, Matthew, John and Mark. I will use only the King James version of the Bible so as not to water down or miscommunicate the information.
Let’s start with the good doctor Luke’s version of what happened.
Luke 23:55 - Friday – the day before the Sabbath Day – “And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56-And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.”
This story – related by Luke, tells us that on Friday…the day of the crucifixion of Christ, some unidentified women followed those who would lay Christ in a rich man’s tomb, that belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. Then, they returned (home, one would assume) and prepared spices and ointments that they bought at some point…probably after Jesus was crucified, but before sundown as that would be the beginning of the Sabbath.
Matthew had no comments about any women preparing ointments and spices on the Saturday before Resurrection Day, but he did make comment as to who the women from Galilee were. We discover this in Matthew 27:55 –56 - “And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56-Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children”.
For the record, there were three women named MARY at the cross on Friday, the day Christ was crucified: John 19: 25-“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother (Mary), and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, (We will hear of Cleophas later) and Mary Magdalene. 26-When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved (John), he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27-Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” Jesus wanted John, His apostle, to care for His mother, Mary.”
Mark did comment on this in Mark 16:1 –“And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.” The Sabbath is also called “Shabbat “ and is observed from sundown Friday until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night. So, let’s assume that Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James and Salome – three women, had gotten together to buy spices and ointments so that they could anoint Jesus on Sunday.
Matthew – 28:1 –“In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre” The “other Mary” was said to have been the mother of James in another account.
Matthew tells us that Roman guards were stationed at the tomb to prevent anyone from taking the body for the next three days. Here is why the Romans did that: Matthew 27:62-66 –“Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63-Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver (Jesus) said, while he was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again’. 64-Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65-Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66-So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”
Matthew 28:2-4 – “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.”
This story tells us that there was an earthquake and ONE ANGEL came and rolled back the stone and sat upon it. This caused the watchmen to pass out…as dead men.
Matthew then tells us that Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James appeared at some point and this angel spoke to them. Verse 5 –“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which 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, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8-And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.”
Matthew does not tell us where the angel was now. He could have been at the entrance to the tomb…or he could have been inside.
Mark tells this rendition for Sunday morning: Mark 16:2 –9 –“And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the RISING OF THE SUN. 3- And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4-And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.”
So, we know at least two women appeared before the tomb, and the stone was rolled away…NO INCONSISTENCIES there.
They also saw AN ANGEL. He was last reported as having been seated atop the stone by Matthew. None-the-less, he could have appeared at the entrance to the tomb with the women, or he could have been inside the tomb
The angel told them Jesus is risen…go and tell his disciple AND PETER, so the angel was aware that there were apostles, and he knew their names.
The angel must have spoken with Jesus at some point – probably at the time he rolled the stone away. Jesus did not roll the stone away…the angel did.
When Jesus and the angel talked, Jesus must have told the angel to tell the women to go and tell His apostles AND PETER. The reason He would have told this angel to tell the women to tell the apostles AND PETER would be that Peter was the apostle who denied Christ three times on Friday. Jesus either had a sense of humor, or He felt badly and wanted Peter, in particular, to know He had risen.
Now we have to get Luke’s account again:
Luke 24:1- “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
Luke reports that early on Sunday morning (dark or at dawn we cannot tell), “they” – the women spoken of in Chapter 27: and verse 56 who were preparing spices and ointments on Saturday. They (and certain others) came with them. None are identified, but there are no inconsistencies…it could very well have been Mary Magdalene, Mary –mother of James, and Salome…maybe even another man or woman.he does not say.
2-“And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3-And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4-And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, TWO MEN stood by them in shining garments:
This is an INCONSISTENCY – because Matthew and Mark had reported that ONE ANGEL spoke to them as they entered the tomb.
5-“And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6-He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet 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 (Jesus’) words,”
TWO ANGELS were there, but only ONE ANGEL could speak at a time. The one that spoke said the same things in all accounts so far.
John, an apostle of Jesus, gave what would appear to be an INCONSISTENCY, and totally different from the other accounts:
John 20: 1- “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was YET DARK, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre."
Here, the INCONSISTENCY would be that Mary Magdalene might have been alone, and it was YET DARK. The other accounts have told us that at least two women appeared - at SUNRISE.
2-"Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him."
This appears to be INCONSISTENT with Matthew and Mark’s story of what happened. The angel did tell her that Jesus had risen, and the angel instructed Mary and the others to run and tell the apostles and Peter that Jesus was risen.
3 –“Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 4-So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 5-And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6-Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7-And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8-Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed."
In the first accounts, MARY supposedly saw an angel or two, spoke with them, learned that Jesus was “risen”, and that they were to tell Peter and the other apostles that Jesus would meet them at the predetermined place in the mountainous area of Galilee – some 65 miles north of where this tomb was just outside of Jerusalem.
The INCONSISTENCY in John’s rendition appears to be that the women saw an empty tomb…no angels, then they ran and told Peter and John( the beloved).
John and Peter then ran to the tomb, saw it was empty…and one of them – John – “believed”. Believed what? Did he see that Jesus was not there and assumed that He had risen from the dead? The whole story seems INCONSISTENT with any other story. But…keep reading…we will uncover all the mystery!
John wraps up his version of the “tomb event”. Verse 9-“For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10-Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.”
One has to ask, “When did Peter and John come to the tomb, and was Mary with them when they went inside the tomb and found it empty?
Luke 23:44 –“And it was about the sixth hour (noon), and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour (3 PM). 53-“And he (Joseph of Arimathea) took it (Jesus’ body) down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54-And that day was the preparation (for the Passover feast), and the Sabbath drew on.“
John 20:11-13- “Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12-and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13-And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.”
This IS CONSISTENT with what she had told Peter and John earlier…”They have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have put Him.”
Luke said the same thing in Luke 24:4-8- “And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, TWO MEN stood by them in shining garments: 5-And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6-He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet 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 (Jesus’) words.”
So, it IS CONSISTENT with all reports that Mary Magdalene (and perhaps others) saw TWO ANGELS in the tomb. They spoke with her. Both angels could not speak with Mary at the same time…like twins, so one angel had to have spoken with her. This is consistent with the ONE ANGEL account spoken of in Matthew’ and Mark’s verbiage found in their gospels.
We must also know that NO APOSTLE saw Jesus alive before Mary Magdalene (and possibly two or more others), but the apostles recorded all that Mary Magdalene had told them.
John 20: 14-17 reveals yet a new twist –“ And when she (Mary Magdalene) had spoken to the angels, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15-Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16-Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17-Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
After that meeting with the angels, then with Jesus Himself, Mary (possibly others) left the tomb and walked…possibly ran…to tell the Apostles the good news that Jesus was not missing, nor did anyone steal Him. He was risen, just as He had told them He would be BEFORE He was crucified.
I AM GOING TO RECAP THE ACTUAL EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE ACCORDING TO ALL FOUR GOSPELS…AND THERE ARE NO INCONSISTENCIES from the crucifixion until the time of the resurrection.
It is late on Friday night…just before the Sabbath was to begin…sometime between 3PM and 6PM. Many women which followed Jesus to His crucifixion on Friday (Mary Magdalene and Mary – the mother of James among them) planned to go to the tomb of Jesus early Sunday morning to anoint His body with spice and ointments that they bought.
Mary Magdalene, either acting alone or with other women, went to take a look at the tomb early Sunday morning…when it was STILL DARK. When they got there, there were no guards…no angels…nobody, and the stone from the tomb had been rolled aside.
She thought, “Someone has taken my LORD from His tomb…I don’t know who, and I don’t know where they would have taken Him.” She (possibly other women) ran to tell Peter.
Peter and John ran as fast as they could to the tomb site. Once there, they discovered no soldiers, no angels, no Jesus…only a napkin neatly laid aside where Jesus’ head would have been, and the burial clothing laying neatly on the slab of stone where Jesus had been lain, but separate from the head napkin.
Peter believed Mary’s apprehension that someone had gone into the tomb and taken Jesus’ body and brought it somewhere. So, no doubt in despair, Peter and James went back home.
As the sun began to rise, Mary Magdalene decided to go back to the empty tomb for the SECOND TIME. This time, it was at SUNRISE. It was her last connection with Jesus. She and Mary, mother of James (perhaps others), went back to the sepulchre (tomb). The stone was still rolled away. This time, Mary Magdalene was outside of it crying, but looked in. She saw TWO ANGELS in the tomb…one sitting at where the head of Jesus was…the other sitting where His feet would have been.
One angel asked, “Why do you cry?” Mary told them the same thing she told Peter earlier in the DARKNESS of the morning: “They have taken away my LORD, and I don’t know where they have taken Him.” One of the two angels spoke, and told Mary Magdalene (perhaps others), “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.”
As Mary Magdalene (possibly other women) turned back toward the entrance of the tomb, Mary spotted a figure just outside. She presumed it was the gardener – probably because her mind figured that Jesus was physically removed from the tomb earlier - by unknown persons, so she would not expect this figure to be Jesus.
Jesus asked Mary Magdalene (possibly others), “Why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, “Mary”. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
Mark also relates this same theme in his writings. He said, in Mark 16:9, and not in any particular order of events, “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” This is also CONSISTENT with John’s account of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus.
Mary – possibly others, left the tomb site and Jesus, and went –as instructed by the angels in the tomb - to tell the apostles and other disciples the wonderful news. “He’s alive", only this time she saw Him and spoke to Him.
So far, all of the apostle’s renderings of what happened…the timing of them, the events…the characters present…all match up exactly. There are NO INCONSISTENCIES.
Now, let’s ferret out what are considered to be inconsistencies from the time Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and possibly others went to tell of this event to the apostles who were in Jerusalem.
First, let’s see who the women were that would relate the story to the apostles - however many there were.
Matthew records this in Matthew 28:8-10 – “And they (Mary Magdalene, Mary – mother of James and others) departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9-And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10-Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”
INCONSISTENCY? Jesus and the angels instructed Mary to tell the apostles that Jesus would meet them in the hills of Galilee…but they were in Jerusalem…65 Miles south of Galilee. Galilee is not a town - it is an entire region in Israel.
Mark recorded the departure from the tomb this way in Mark 16:10 – “And SHE went and told them that had been with Him (the apostles) as they mourned and wept.” Mark only tells of one of the women going to tell the apostles. He used the word, "SHE".
NO INCONSISTENCIES …he just told of one of the women - the lead character, if you will.
John’s accounting of the time the women left the tomb until they sought out the apostles is recorded in John 20:18 –“Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.” This is essentially what Mark had recorded. NO INCONSISTENCY.
Luke, on the other hand, recorded exactly who went into Jerusalem to tell the apostles the news: Luke 24:8-10 – reveals this: “And they (some women) remembered his (Jesus’) words, (That He told them about His resurrection back when they were all together in Galilee – before the crucifixion) 9-And (They – the yet unnamed women) returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.”
Verse 10 –“It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.”
Everything IS CONSISTENT so far.
Now, we need to discover if there are any inconsistencies with the number of apostles waiting in Jerusalem…although Jesus had told them before the crucifixion that He would meet them in Galilee. The reason these people were all in Jerusalem is simple. They did NOT BELIEVE that Jesus was alive – risen from the dead…even though He told them He would be! Therefore, why would they go to Galilee? For what reason?
We must lead with the story as reported by Mark because it is his account that has set the stage for who heard the news from these women and other witnesses that Jesus was alive.
Mark 16: 10 – “And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11-And THEY (the eleven apostles), when THEY had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, THEY BELIEVED NOT.
Verse 12- “After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13-And they went and told it unto the residue: AND NEITHER BELIEVED THEY them.”
Two additional witnesses came and testified to the apostles and other disciples – “followers of Christ” that they, too, had seen and spoken to Jesus, and He was alive.
Because Mark did not elaborate as to who these other two witnesses were, speculation might abound. Someone might think it was just the several women who saw and spoke to Jesus. Others would speculate that the two wintnesses were Peter and John because in verse 12…preceding verse 13, Luke had just given the account of those two running to the tomb and finding it empty! So let’s clear that up now.
Luke 24:13- “And, behold, TWO OF THEM went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.(3.7 miles)”
Luke had just told us in verse 12 that Peter and John had run to the tomb to verify Mary Magdalene’s account that someone might have stolen the body of Jesus. So the next verse, verse 13 would allow readers to think that Luke was still speaking about Peter and John.
When the King James Bible was written in the year 1611, they had Jewish and Greek scribes assembled to carefully, prayerfully, combine all of the Jewish Old Testament scrolls with the manuscripts written by Jewish apostles and Greek apostles – now known as the new covenant or New Testament.
Thes scribes would develop the King James Version of “The Bible”.
As they carefully transcribed the words in all documents, they made “short separations in time”…called “verses”, and that is why we see the Bible as we know it…laid out in verses.
Luke, Chapter 24 has 53 “verses” in it. Let’s read from “verse” 43 to the end of the Chapter. It was Resurrection Sunday, and Jesus had just appeared to His apostles. They did not believe that He was not a ghost, so He asked for a piece of fish.
Verse 43-“And he took it, and did eat before them. 44-And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45-Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46-And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the THIRD DAY. 47-And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48-And ye are witnesses of these things. 49-And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. 50-And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51-And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52-And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53-And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.”
Before the King James Version was written, these written recordings of events and sayings were written in ink…in long-hand, and contained on papers…such as parchments. Some were scrolls.
So, look at “verse” 43…because it is Sunday…day three after the crucifixion. If you then read “verse” 51, it appears that Jesus ascended into heaven right then and there! The fact is…Jesus spent forty days (40 is the number of completion) with His apostles (I’ll tell you why in a few moments), so I just want you to understand that there may be “short divisions” or spaces of time between each “verse”.
Luke 24:13…”two” were walking along the road to Emmaus. Luke tells us who one of the two men was who “went that same day”…so we don’t know how much time evolved between the Peter and John incident at the tomb, and this walk to Emmaus.
Luke 24: 18 – “And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas…” was walking on the road to Emmaus while the risen Jesus drew near to them.”
Cleopas was also Cleophas, a disciple or follower of Christ, and the husband of the third Mary who witnessed the crucifixion.
Jesus had temporarily caused the eyes of these two men not to know his identity. He must have taken on the form of another person as suggested in Mark’s rendition – “Jesus appeared in another form unto two of them”.
Later, in Luke 24: Luke elaborates on the conversation going on between Cleopas and the unnamed man and Jesus – who was in another form. The two spoke of all that the women had seen, and told this man that “two of us” – meaning of all of the followers of Christ, Peter and John ("two of us") had reported running to the tomb and finding the body of Jesus missing.
Jesus began talking to these two men along the three score furlong trip to Emmaus from Jerusalem. It was exactly 3.7 miles from Jerusalem, so their “chat” would have taken them about an hour or so.
Jesus expounded unto them all the scriptures – from the time of Moses until the resurrection – all of the things pertaining to Jesus – prophecy to fulfillment. They marveled that this stranger knew all that he knew.
As they drew near the village of Emmaus, Jesus made off like He was going to continue His travels without them. They begged Him to stay and have some dinner with them. He did, and as He broke bread with them, He blessed the food and passed it to them. “And their eyes were opened and they knew him.”- Luke 24:31.
Likely, as they bowed their heads to thank God for their victuals, Jesus decided to take on His form as Jesus. Then, Jesus immediately vanished from their presence. And these two rose up (verse 33) and returned to Jerusalem where they found the eleven apostles – along with “others that were with them”. There, they told of seeing Jesus and talking with him for about an hour. Let’s suppose they also conveyed that they ate with Him, too. I say that because later, the apostles will think Jesus is a ghost, and ghosts don't eat food!
These men convened in Jerusalem, and gave their eyewitness testimony as well. The apostles DID NOT BELIEVE the women, and now, they DID NOT BELIEVE these two men whom they knew intimately.
These two told all of the apostles, including Peter, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon.” Jesus appeared to someone named Simon…and this Simon was also a follower of Christ. I will speculate that it was Simon of Bethany because Jesus was at the house of Simon the leper just before His crucifixion. Matthew 26:6 and Mark 14:3.
Matthew does report in Matthew 28:16 - “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17-And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.”
This apparent INCONSISTENCY might lead one to believe that the apostles would have met Jesus in Galilee, and not in Jerusalem, but this is a “verse” with a time factor behind it. Galilee is a region to the left of the Sea of Galilee, and is about 65 miles north of the City of Jerusalem.
This timing of when Jesus would meet His apostles in Galilee would be AFTER the meeting with the eleven apostles in Jerusalem. When that meeting took place is not known.
We do have Mark’s account of the meeting in Jerusalem, John’s recording of events, and Luke’s diary of writings concerning the Jerusalem meeting between Jesus and His apostles. Luke reports there were eleven in attendance at the “Jerusalem meeting”.
Mark 16:14: “Afterward (meaning after the event of the meeting between Jesus and the men in Emmaus) Jesus appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided (SCOLDED) them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED NOT them which had seen him after he was risen.”
Jesus had no reason to go to Galilee for He already knew the hearts of His apostles…THEY DID NOT BELIEVE HE WAS ALIVE, so He went to Jerusalem and “appeared” to them. He somehow appeared, even though the foor was bolted! That should shake them up!
Jesus met His eleven apostles…none of whom had physically seen Him to this point, and He SCOLDED THEM for their outright UNBELIEF - especially after having heard the testimony of so many eyewitnesses - and in light of the fact that he told them –personally, that He would rise again on the third day after His crucifixion…and meet them at the predetermined point in the mountains of Galilee.
Jesus told them, on the day of his crucifixion, “ Mark 14:27-28 –“All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. 28-But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.”
Jesus walked and talked with these men. They did many signs and wonders together while with Him during His three and a half year ministry. YET THEY DID NOT BELIEVE!
I have heavily emphasized that Jesus was upset at THEIR UNBELIEF, and He SCOLDED them for it, because in Mark, Chapter 14, Jesus tells the eleven, “YE BELIEVE NOT".
Verse 17-“And these signs shall follow THEM THAT BELIEVE; In my name shall THEY cast out devils; THEY shall speak with new tongues; 18-THEY shall take up serpents; and if THEY drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt THEM; THEY shall lay hands on the sick, and THEY shall recover. “
It is critical that we now know that Jesus is speaking to his eleven apostles, and telling THOSE OF THEM THAT BELIEVE - THEY will be the apostles who will do signs and wonders in His name from now on.
And “THEY” who believe shall cast out devils, speak with new tongues, take up (poisonous) serpents without it hurting them, THOSE apostles who believe (and some of them still did NOT believe – even though they saw Him) will also be able to drink deadly poisons to no effect, and THEY who believe (of the eleven in the room) would be able to lay hands on the sick, lame, blind…even dead, and they shall recover.
This is critical because if readers of all four gospels get to understand the entirety of events, they would not misinterpret Mark's gospel in Chapter 16 as though it were a blanket statement made by Jesus that THEY refers to any saved person.
They take verses 15 and 16 of Mark 16 totally out of context.
Verse 15 -“And he said unto them (the eleven), Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16-HE THAT BELIEVETH and is baptized shall be SAVED; but he that believeth not shall be damned. “
Then, as Mark’s diary of events shows, his next statement was 17-"And these signs shall follow THEM THAT BELIEVE…”
Millions of readers of Mark’s account have misinterpreted “THEM that believe” to mean HE THAT BELIEVETH found in verse 16 as anyone who believes in Christ and is baptized shall be saved, and THEY THAT BELIEVE shall do signs, miracles and wonders.
Everyone in the world during this time had heard that Jesus was crucified. He was nothing more than a dead martyr. Who would believe anyone who came to them with this story? - “Ah, I know that you have heard that Jesus died on the cross, but believe us, He rose again on the third day – just like He said He would do. He spoke with us for forty days, and some of us watched as He ascended into heaven. He loves you, and wants you to know that He died for your sins. Please believe in Him and you will also go to heaven.”
Would you believe a story like that - without some SIGNS, MIRACLES and WONDERS? I'm positivie that I would not!
These apostles would now need a lot of “street cred” if they were ever going to convince anyone of the truth. Jesus knew this, of course, and He told THEM, “YOU WHO WILL BELIEVE THAT I AM RISEN WILL HAVE THE SAME SIGNS AND WONDERS YOU HAD BEFORE – WHEN I WAS WITH YOU. THAT WAY, PEOPLE WILL BE COMPELLED TO BELIEVE YOU…YOU WILL PREACH THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, AND THEN YOU WILL PERFORM MIRACLES, SIGNS AND WONDERS.
Here is what YOU WHO BELIEVE will do: Verse 17 and 18 of Mark 16: -"And these signs shall follow THEM THAT BELIEVE; In my name shall THEY cast out devils; THEY shall speak with new tongues; 18-THEY shall take up serpents; and if THEY drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt THEM; THEY shall lay hands on the sick, and THEY shall recover.”
We need only to look at the end of Chapter 16 of Mark to see that THEY WHO BELIEVE are THE APOSTLES only, and after they preach the Gospel of Christ, “Signs” will follow. By the way, the apostles, including Matthias, would also empower seven "deacons" with the same gifts they were empowered with by Jesus. It would be after the Day of Pentecoonst that these seven men would also receive the powers. Read Acts 63 and 6 for that clarification. Stephen and Philip, tow of the seven deacons, did "signs and wonders", and they are recorde in Acts.
Verse 20 sums it up: “And THEY went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with THEM, and CONFIRMING THE WORD with SIGNS FOLLOWING.
Clearly, THEY were not “those who believe and are saved” as found in verse 15 and 16 – where Jesus was simply telling then what they would now be responsible for - “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16-He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
“To do that job, YOU WHO BELIEVE will be enabled - with power from heaven…and with these other tools – the gifts of performing miracles, raising the dead, healing the sick…and they WILL RECOVER, and all the rest of the gifts mentioned."
Jesus also said THEY (of you eleven apostles) WHO BELIEVE shall have these gifts because at that first encounter in Jerusalem…on Resurrection Sunday, very few of the apostles believed…even though they saw Jesus in front of them.
If you think that is impossible, I will prove that THEY STILL DID NOT BELIEVE UNTIL 8 DAYS LATER. Hang in there.
I must remind you now of what gifts or "signs and wonders" these same apostles had BEFORE the resurrection…while they taught and preached – with Jesus.
Matthew 10:1 “And when Jesus had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”
Jesus gave them this power BEFORE THE CRUCIFIXION to be used as “signs and wonders” to the JEWS only, and not to the non-Jews (Gentiles).
Matthew 10:5-8 – Jesus said, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6-But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 8-Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
After His resurrection, Jesus would have His apostles preach the Gospel of Christ to all people…Jew and Gentile alike, but now, that He would be going back to heaven in 40 days, He would need them to retain these “powers” of doing signs and wonders…plus one extra bonus.
Jesus was going away to heaven. He had physically been with them, so, while He was with them, they did not need to have the power that would be necessary to continue along WITHOUT Him.
Therefore, He also breathed on the eleven in this upper room, and the power of His Holy Spirit dwelled within them.
Now, it would be the same as if Jesus was with them. So, in addition to all of the above gifts to be used as “signs, wonders, and miracles”, they had the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit upon them.
This is borne out in John 20: 21-22 –“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22-And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”
As He said in all four gospels, but particularly in Mark 16: “As my Father has sent me (and now I am going back to heaven), so send I YOU.” And, you will need my Holy Spirit to be with you to get the job done that lies ahead of you and you will do it with my authority.
Remember our lesson about Hezekiah? We discovered that those disciples of Satan told Hezekiah, God told us to come up here to kill you all.” Was it true? Remember our lesson about Satan telling Eve….way back in the Garden of Eden, “God will surely NOT kill you if you eat of this particular tree”? God said she and Adam would die. Who did Eve believe? Did she die?
Matthew 5:17" Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
So, once again, Jesus himself told us that He came - not to abolish the law of Moses (Ten Commandments) nor to abolish prophets, He came to fulfill the Law of Moses and to fulfill prophecy.
We now live under God’s grace, not the law because we cannot keep the commandments, and we no longer (since John the Baptist) need the prophets because Jesus fulfilled that need by presenting us with all the prophecy needed from John’s time to the end of the planet as we know it.
For me and my household, as Joshua once said, “We will choose to serve (and believe) the Lord.
John also recorded in his gospel that these eleven were hiding out of fear of repercussions from the Jews and those in power in Jerusalem who might come after them next.
How (or why) (without the Holy Spirit) would scared-to-death followers become BOLD enough to do all that they did for the remainder of their lives?
John 20:19 –“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week (Sunday), when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled FOR FEAR OF THE JEWS, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. 20-And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.”
Here comes the last of the so-called inconsistencies:
All accounts show eleven apostles in the room. Here are the eleven by name: PETER (the fisherman), His brother, ANDREW, JAMES, the son of Zebedee and also of Mary – mother of James, his brother, JOHN – also called “the beloved”, and PHILIP, BARTHOLOMEW, THOMAS aka “doubting Thomas”, MATTHEW, the tax collector, JAMES…son of Alphaes, THADDEUS, which was his last name…first name was Lebbaeus, SIMON, the Canaanite. The twelfth apostle was Judas Iscariot…the one who betrayed Christ, and who would have “no part in the kingdom of God”, had gone out and hanged himself before the crucifixion.
These eleven apostles were reported to have been in this upper room in Jerusalem at the time Jesus appeared unto them. Matthew agrees, Mark agrees, Luke agree…there were all eleven there.
John, however, threw this particular “monkey wrench” rendition of who was there into the mix:
John 20: 24-28 –“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25-The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
These comments have sent the wrong signal to millions of people! It appears that John is telling the truth, and the other apostles have lied as to how many apostles were actually in that upper room. According to John, “THOMAS WAS NOT THERE”.
Judas was dead. Matthias..the so-called twelfth apostle, had not been chosen, and would not be chosen by Peter and a group of about 120 followers (disciples) until after Jesus ascends into heaven in exactly forty days from this Sunday meeting.
Without THOMAS, there are only TEN APOSTLES in the room. SOMEBODY MUST BE LYING - right? We’ll see!
If we simply glossed over this reading for fear that it contradicted the other three accounts, we lie to ourselves. There are NO CONTRADICTIONS in the Bible!
This is why it is CRUCIAL to study the Bible in its entirety to get the full picture of what happened. To now believe that only ten apostles were in the room when Jesus arrived would mean that three apostles were lying…guilty of a cover-up!
A cover-up is exactly what the Jews of that time and the high priests all alleged. A cover-up – a conspiracy among the apostles is widely held by many today. Many say the proof of the cover-up is right here in John Chapter 20. They say that the apostles all conspired to take the body of Jesus from the tomb, and hide it somewhere where no one could ever find it.
Then,they say, these same apostles concocted a story that Jesus did, in fact, raise up from the dead, and all of these “crazy religions” grew out of those lies.
They tell us that John…the beloved apostle of Christ messed up when he wrote that one of the eleven was not there, and because it was recorded, “the cat was out of the bag”. If one cannot believe one of the apostles…especially John, the beloved, then nothing any of them say will give credence to the truth that Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day…as He said He would be. And, because he could not raise Himself from the dead, He has no power to raise anyone else.
Here is where that cover-up story originated:
Do you recall that there were GUARDS at the tomb? They were stationed there to secure the stone that had closed Jesus in. He could not get out. Nobody could come and take His body.
Then, you will recall that an angel came after a mini-earthquake happened, and the angel approached the guards…how ever many there were. The guards either fainted – “As if asleep”, or the angel caused them to pass out while he rolled the stone away early in the morning on that Sunday. Then, the angel sat upon the stone that was rolled away.
Mary Magdalene showed up very early Sunday morning…in the near darkness and saw the stone rolled away. No one was around…no guards…no angel…nobody. She ran and got Peter and John. They came…they saw…they left. Nobody was there.
Where did the guards go?
Glad you asked. Here’s where they went in the wee hours of Sunday morning:
Matthew 28:11 “…some of the watch (those who were stationed as GUARDS watching and guarding the stone of the tomb) came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done." (They reported the earthquake…the appearance of the angel…the stone being rolled away when they awoke from the sleep he put them in) THEY REPORTED THE TRUTH.
12-“And when they (the guards) were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they (the counsel) gave large money unto the soldiers, 13-Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14-And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15-So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
The guards were ALL paid off. They were mandated to lie. They were all told, in no uncertain terms (probably under direct threat of instant death), that the disciples of Christ came and stole him away while we guards had fallen asleep on the job.
And this saying is commonly reported by the Jews until this day – and by any who refuse to believe the Words written in the New Testament by these apostles. And now, John seems to be corroborating the Guards’ story in a way, because he is telling the readers of his gospel that one of the apostles wasn’t in attendance when Jesus came!
Let’s now look at the truth again.
We must work backwards from John’s account. John stated this in John 20:24-25 –“24-But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.”
This does NOT mean that THOMAS was not with the apostles when Jesus came, it means, “THOMAS was not with the witnesses when Jesus physically came to them”.
Verse 25-“The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
This does not mean that "the other disciples" were those eleven apostles, it means, when the disciples who did see and speak with Jesus came into Jerusalem and told the apostles…including THOMAS, and the other followers what they had seen…THOMAS DID NOT BELIEVE THEM - “EXCEPT I PUT MY FINGER INTO HIS NAIL SCARRED HANDS AND INTO HIS SIDE”.
Now, we have to stop there because the next verse (“short division”) tells us that THOMAS was with the apostles eight days later…and therefore, seemingly NOT THERE on the Resurrection Sunday.
Read it: ’26-“And after eight days again his disciples were within (this same upper room), and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.”
All John was saying is that THOMAS was there on the Resurrection Sunday, and did see Jesus, but he did not touch his hands or His feet at the time - even though Jesus made this statement to all eleven of them:
Luke 24:36-43 –“Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37-But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38-And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39-Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40-And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41-And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42-And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43-And he took it, and did eat before them.”
On Resurrection Sunday, Jesus showed all eleven apostles his hands and feet and the nail scars. He suggested that they touch Him to see that He was not a ghost. He then ate food to prove He was flesh and bone, and not a ghost.
Pay close attention to Luke’s exact words found in verse 41 –“And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?”
“AND WHILE THE ELEVEN APOSTLES, INCLUDING THOMAS BELIEVED IT WAS HIM…THEY STILL DID NOT BELIEVE TOTALLY THAT HE WAS NOT A GHOST….THEY YET BELIEVED BECAUSE THEY WERE OVERWHELMED WITH JOY TO SEE HIM…AND THEY STILL WONDERED…IS THIS REALLY REAL?”
Let’s quickly review the interpretation of verse 41 from the NIV –“And WHILE THEY STILL DID NOT BELIEVE IT because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They thought He was a ghost, so Jesus was prepared to show them that ghosts don't eat food!
NAS –41-“While THEY STILL COULD NOT BELIEVE IT because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?"
AMP –“And while [since] THEY STILL COULD NOT BELIEVE IT for sheer joy and marveled, He said to them, Have you anything here to eat?”
And we can wrap up the point that at least some of the apostles STILL DID NOT BELIEVE it was not a ghost, and that Jesus had physically been raised from the dead, by reading the MESSAGE version as it delivers perfectly what happened in this room with all eleven apostles.
We will take it from verse 31 to 43 for better clarification: “While they (the eleven) were saying all this (talking about what the witnesses had told them), Jesus appeared to them and said, "Peace be with you." They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, "Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it's really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn't have muscle and bone like this." As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. THEY SILL COULDN’T BELIEVE WHAT THEY WERE SEEING. IT WAS TOO MUCH; IT SEEMED TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.” Then, Jesus asked them, "Do you have any food here?" They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.”
So far, there is NOT one inconsistency in any of the events of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
All eleven apostles are accounted for in this first meeting with Jesus -including THOMAS.
Now, let’s revisit John 20 and verse (short division of time) 26-“And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27-Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and BE NOT FATHLESS, BUT BELIEVING. 28-and Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.”
This time…EIGHT DAYS LATER, THOMAS was with them (as he was at the first meeting on Sunday, Resurrection Day), only this time Jesus wanted to have one of them - “doubting THOMAS” come over to him and physically put his finger into the nail holes in Jesus’ hands, and “thrust your finger into my side as well”.
Jesus knew that THE APOSTLES STILL DID NOT BELIEVE, and He chose THOMAS to come and stick his finger into His nail scarred hands and into his side – and He did so because of THOMAS’ statement to all of the apostles and followers that time when all of the witnesses had come to them to tell them of their encounter with Jesus. He knew of THOMAS’ words, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Jesus was aware that few, if any, of His apostles BELIEVED. They still thought they were with a ghost. Jesus now forced THEIR UNBELIEF. They were not satisfied with seeing Him…or watching Him eat a piece of fish. Jesus forced “doubting THOMAS” to stick his finger inside of His wounds because THOMAS said, “When I do that, I WILL BELIEVE.”
John 20:28 “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.”
Oh, yes…THOMAS no longer doubted that Jesus was resurrected, nor did the other apostles. And this reflects back to Mark’s account in Mark 16:17-18 when Jesus said, “And these signs shall follow THEM THAT BELIEVE; In my name shall THEY cast out devils; THEY shall speak with new tongues; THEY shall take up serpents; and if THEY drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt THEM; THEY shall lay hands on the sick, and THEY shall recover.”
THEY refers to the apostles who chose to believe that Christ was, in fact, raised form the dead, and not a ghost. We just witnessed the truth: The apostles were the THEY in Mark 16 wo DID NOT BELIEVE, and they DID NOT BELIEVE until day 8.
As we begin to wrap up all of the accounts that have NO INCONSISTENCIES, Jesus wanted all of US to know something special.
Verse 29 of John 20 –“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, BECAUSE THOU HAST SEEN ME, THOUH HAST BELIEVED: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
”Thomas…you and these others believe because you have seen me resurrected….you have touched the nail scars and the hole in my side."
"Others - like those folks who are reading John Tyler’s article in 2010, are more blessed because they believe me , yet they have never seen me or touched those wounds.”
John 20:30 –“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31-But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
The “many other signs and wonders” that Jesus did in the presence of His apostles During Hos 40-days with them),are not spoken of in any of the gospels, but we do know this: As a result of His meetings with them over the forty days that He DID spend with them, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit living within them now, and empowered by the gifts of authority over their words that they would preach because after they preached, “signs” and wonders and miracles would be seen also.
They were also told what to write down in what would become THE NEW TESTAMENT - so as to finish all of the fulfillment of prophecy, and give us all instructions as how to live on the planet…and how to prepare for eternity.
They might have spent their time in the mountains of Galilee during this time - as Matthew said in verse 16 –“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had first told them He would meet them.”
Mark 16 tells of a period of time during these forty days, and then of the ascension into heaven by Jesus. Verse 19-“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20-And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Amen means,“So let it be”).
I trust that this exhaustive Bible study will have not only enlightened you, but that you will never have any doubts about the infallibility of God’s Words.
If people tell you to believe this or that, or they challenge God’s Word because of what appears to them to be INCONSISTENCIES….don’t believe anything but the Word of God.
Read and study His Word so you can know things that are sure…unmovable….written on the tablets of your heart…and no one can ever cause you to doubt.
John Tyler, Author
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John, I find your Bible study to be very well written and searched out.
I find that most people who seem to find inconsistencies in the Bible scriptures… do so either for one-or all of the three following reasons; Reason 1.) because they thrive on controversy - there are many people who don’t want to discuss the Bible scriptures, they prefer to argue…… OR Reason 2.) they don’t study the scriptures; they may read a passage, not understanding what it is telling us- and then say to themselves “that is what it says alright!” not even caring that there is second passage that will clarify the first. OR Reason 3.) they'll read a scripture here, a scripture there and then they try to combine the two; (but when combined, may not make any logical sense at all)……in an attempt to prove their point.
Keep up the good work!