A Draft Chronology
Saturday evening –
- Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchased burial spices (Mark 16:1)
Early Sunday morning –
- Mary Magdaleneand the other Mary visit the tomb (Matt 28:1)
- They went to the tomb (Mark 16:2)
- The women went to the tomb (Luke 24:1)
- Mary Magdalene came to the tomb (John 20:1)
- Go quickly and tell His disciples (Matt 28:7)
- Go and tell His disciples, including Peter (Mark 16:7)
- The women ran quickly to give the disciples the angel’s message. Matt 28:8
- The women fled from the tomb, and they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions (Mark 16:8)
- They rushed back from the tomb to tell His eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. (Luke 24:9)
- It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. (Luke 24:10)
- She (Mary Magdalene from John 20:1) ran and found Simon Peterand the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved (John 20:2)
- The first person who saw Him was Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9)
- Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and she stooped and looked in (John 20:11)
- She turned to leave and saw Someone – Jesus (John 20:14)
- Go find My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father’ (John 20:17) Mary Magdalenefound the disciples and told them (John 20:18)
- She (Mary Magdalene)went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. (Mark 16:10)She told them . . . she had seen Him. (Mark 16:11)
- They (the women from verse 8)went, Jesus met them (Matt 28:9)
- They ran to Him, grasped His feet, and worshiped Him. (Matt 28:9)
- Go tell My brothers to leave for Galilee (Matt 28:10)
Now that we have sorted out who these women are: that is a bunch of Marys and a few others – we now have to work out who it was who actually gave the report of Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples. According to Matthew it was the two Marys (Magdalene and the other Mary) who ran quickly and gave the disciples the message. According to Mark it was Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome who reported what they had seen and heard to Peter and his companions. According to Luke it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the disciples and everyone else what had happened. John says that Mary Magdalene alone told Peter and John. Then according to Mark and John we are informed that Mary alone went to tell the assembled disciples that she had seen the Lord. With the number of Marys in the story and the confusion of who told who what we can be left a little bewildered. Let’s see if we can sort out the confusion.
We know that all these women were indeed present after the resurrection but what was happening to the disciples. It seems they were gathered together but we should not imagine that these disciples, the eleven and the others stayed together as a group and all heard the news as one. We know that Peter and John ran off together when they hear the first news. We know that Thomas was not with the group at the time of the announcement of the news that Jesus had been seen. Don’t imagine either that this is a one time announcement of the news to a body of people who are set and unchanging. It seems this is an unfolding series of announcements heard by some of the same people but the group appears to be fluid and changing. Some are coming and going. At times there are more than the immediate band of disciples present and then not all of them are present in the same place. Not only that but imagine the shock and hysteria that was going on even for the women who first heard the news from the angel(s). The players in this event seemingly were ever changing, Numbers of angels, varying numbers or women telling the story and an ever changing number of disciples. Imagine too the wonder and puzzlement that was unfolding.
At first the women don’t see the body in the place it ought to have been and so conclude someone has taken His body. The angels set them straight as to what has happened and they run off. Do they run off in all directions to where they each know followers of Jesus are gathered or do they all run to the same place where most of the disciples were gathered? Perhaps the core disciples are inside and there is a band of others outside. We are not told the details of the makeup and placement of the hearers. However I think it is safe to assume we have a bunch of excited women telling the men what they have seen and heard all together. Imagine the scene: everyone speaking at once and all wanting to add their bit.
Clearly Mary Magdalene was present at the tomb with the group of women. Clearly she was present again when the group of women were telling the disciples. At that point Peter and John go running off. It seems Mary Magdalene followed them because she is back at the tomb again to later have Jesus appear to her. He couldn’t have appeared to her in the first instance when all the women were heading off to tell the disciples or the others would have seen Him as well. He didn’t appear to Peter and John when they arrived. All they saw were the empty grave clothes without a body in them. Interesting isn’t it that Jesus didn’t appear first to Peter and John? Why not, John was “the disciple that Jesus loved”, and Peter was His right-hand man, the one He was grooming for leadership. These two were in His inner circle of Peter, James and John. Why not appear first to them? They would believe and take it all in, wouldn’t they? And beside they are men and not women. A woman giving the report in those days was not considered the best way to spread the news. Women were not held in high esteem. Hence announcing the news via the women could be seen to be a PR blunder. If you are thinking humanly that is. Certainly Saatchi and Saatchi would not have done it that way.
Note too in Luke (after all it is Luke we are focused on) there are two different verbs used for the spreading of the news in verses 9 and 10. The first the word to “announce” all this. Can you imagine the scene as all the women excited announce all that they had seen and heard? I can imagine this announcement took a while. I wonder if Peter and John didn’t wait for the announcement to finish but ran off to check it out for themselves. Mary Magdalene was clearly a leading player in the earlier part of the announcement but that doesn’t mean she had to have waited till all the women in the group had had their say. She seems to go off after Peter and John and likely arrives well after they arrive. John was highly receptive to the idea that Jesus has risen. Peter was more circumspect about it. Little wonder after all he has been through and the mistakes he has made along the way. Mary Magdalene it seems hung around, after the other two had left, crying. A natural reaction to be sure. At which time the Lord appears to her and tells her to go and tell the disciples that “He is ascending to the Father”. She then runs off and brings another level of news to them. Notice there are two different kinds of announcements. The initial one sparked by the angels and the final one sparked by Jesus’ appearance to Mary.
The tense of the second verb to tell in verse 10 indicates a repeated series of tellings. The imperfect tense suggests the women kept telling the story to those gathered. The syntax of the sentence is difficult and leads to all sorts of theories as to how it should be de-constructed. But I don’t intend to bore you with all the grammatical details. Suffice to say the imperfect tense carries the idea of waves of re-telling of the story at the time of its initial telling. They were telling and retelling as each woman added her part perhaps. It seems they tried repeatedly to communicate their story to the immediate closer group of disciples but maybe it also includes a retelling for those outside the immediate circle. Remember too that Thomas wasn’t there and the story is retold again when he eventually comes. Perhaps also there is a sense in which these women retell the story one by one as they move among the crowd. Either possibility fits the facts and is plausible.
What is also interesting is that each time the story is told it is like the disbelief grows. Again the use of the imperfect seems to infer a continuous or widening sense of disbelief. Indeed Luke adds for us that those gathered considered the women were speaking nonsense or idle empty talk. Something perhaps they had dreamed up for themselves. Women’s chatter that was not necessary to be believed. Hence necessitating Peter and John to run off and check it out for themselves. What interesting dynamics were going on here in this account! There is a widening sense of disbelief that is occurring. Especially when you consider it in the context of Luke’s focus on the reaction of the centurion. It seems like it is all downhill from there. Note too the shorter ending of Mark which leaves the resurrection and the gospel in the hands of a bunch of fearful women and disciples. It is all very fascinating. But then a change comes to the tone of all it all across the gospel accounts as we shall see.
At this stage it all reminds me of another story written by Luke which has remarkable parallels. Can you think what it is? I will tell you in the next Gem and we will explore it in depth later. For now ponder these things in your heart – as another Mary once did.
Nothing can stop the person with the right mental attitude…nothing on earth can help the person with the wrong attitude.Thomas Jefferson
Resurrection power generates new life.. Dead things come to life when heaven collides with earth!Brian Houston
The secret to the release of resurrection power is our ability to believe and to act on it. The resurrection changes everything.Ian Vail
“Jesus rose from the dead, and you can’t even get out of bed. C’mon get outta your bed.”(Keith Green – Asleep in the Light)