Were there one or two angels at the tomb?
(Copyright@2009 by Yonko Mail, All rights reserved.)
Welcome to the Yonko Mali, Just Call Me Johnny, radio program. Today, I will be covering the resurrection and were there one or two angels at the tomb? If you have ever wondered about that or have wondered about the differences in the details in the four Gospels, then putting all the Gospel stories together in one continuous time-sequence helps I think to clarify the entire story of the resurrection. So here is my version of combining the four Gospel stories together including some interesting tidbits that I will tell you about.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome and some other women bought spices so that they might go to anoint body of Jesus. Very early on the first day of the week, that is on a Sunday, just at the beginning of sunrise, at dawn while it was still quite dark, the women were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will we find to roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb for us?” Because the huge stone would have to be rolled back uphill and secured with a “stopping” stone to prevent it from rolling back down hill and re-sealing the tomb’s entrance.
Meanwhile, while the women had started on their way to the tomb, back at the tomb, the tomb had been sealed and a guard had been posted for the previous day or two. And while the women were on their way, there was a earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it! His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel, who rolled away the stone, sat on top of the stone! I am sure this angel was very pleased and privileged to be the one who rolled back the stone. And I like to think of this angel sitting there on top of that huge stone with his arms crossed and essentially saying, “OK you big tough guards, what are you going to do now? And you too Satan, you thought you won Friday night but you actually lost.” So what did the guards do? They ran away. Some fled back to the Jewish authorities in the city.
So when the women arrived at garden where the tomb was, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away and this angel was sitting on top of the it!
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come inside and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will all see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women entered the tomb as the angel had invited them to do, except for Mary Magdalene, because she was probably the youngest of the women, she immediately left to tell Peter and John and the other disciples. “She runneth back” as the bible says.
As they entered the tomb, they did not see the body of Jesus. Instead they saw another angel looking like a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. The angel inside the tomb repeats the same thing the angel sitting on the stone said.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go! tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will all see him, just as he told you.’ ”
This second angel disappears and so the women were perplexed. They looked around at everything in the tomb and again confirmed that Jesus was not there.
And while they were wondering about all this, suddenly two men in clothes (angels) that gleamed like lightning now stood beside right beside the women. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them,
“Don’t be alarmed!” “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! But go, tell his disciples and tell Peter. Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered what Jesus had said.
Trembling and bewildered, with both fear and great joy and amazement, the women went out and left the tomb as instructed by the angels and fled back to tell the disciples. They said nothing to anyone they meet on the way back, because they were afraid to until they first told Peter and the disciples.
Mary Magdalene (who either left early without going into the tomb) or simply outran the other women and came running to Simon Peter and John, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and John started for the tomb, this is Peter’s first trip to the tomb, they probably met the older women, Joanna and Mary the mother of James and Salome and the other women who were returning from the tomb, and these women confirmed what Mary Magdalene had told them about the angels and the empty tomb.
Both Peter and John were running, but John who was probably younger outran Peter and reached the tomb first. At the entrance to the tomb, John bent over at the entrance to the tomb and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, (John) who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. John saw and believed that Jesus must have risen from the dead. (Even though they still did not understand from the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead, to fulfill all scriptures). Later, we will explain why John immediately believed that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Notice how everyone stops at the entrance to the tomb and bends over and peers in. This is obvious for several reasons. The entrance to the tomb was probably smaller than the inside ceiling. And we do not know how tall the tomb was inside, was their enough room to stand up. We can imply from the scriptures that the tomb was quite large, it was made hold a family of corpses because several of the women and later men went into the tomb. Also the there would be a very strong and sweet smell emanating from the tomb from all the spices and perfumes that were used to anoint the body of Jesus. Also entering a tomb was somewhat scary. You did not want the stone to suddenly roll back and seal you in the tomb.
But the most obvious reason why everyone stops and bends over and peers into the tomb, was because the tomb was quite dark and so everyone had to let their eyes adjust to the darkness. So when the angels were in the inside of the tomb, their luminous clothing provided sufficient lighting when the women entered the tomb in the early part of Sunday morning. This is one of the reasons why the angels were inside the tomb in the early morning. “Come and see where they had laid him.” There may have been some torches left over from the guards who ran away, but this is not mentioned in the Bible. So that is why everyone stops and bends over before entering the tomb. You see I am like that Monk detective on TV, I notice all the details and how they interrelate to the main story.
So after Peter and John had arrived at the tomb running, now probably other disciples arrived at the tomb, including the women who were previously there first in the morning, and everyone saw that the tomb was empty.
We can be sure that many people both disciples and non-disciples came to the empty tomb that day. In fact, recently archeologists have found a decree, most likely written by Pontius Pilate, ordering that no-one disturb the tombs where dead people have been buried. This degree was either issued when Pilate ordered that a guard be posted and the tomb sealed where Jesus was buried or more likely afterwards when the Jewish authorities probably came to him again complaining that people were going to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. I personally am sure that lots of people visited the empty tomb.
So after much discussion and bewilderment, Peter and John and everyone else starts heading back to the house, the women walked back slower than the men especially the older women, but Mary Magdalene stayed behind and stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over at the entrance to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” Mary was at the entrance to the tomb, at this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but through her tears and anguish she did not realize that it was Jesus.
“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her tenderly, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Jesus said, “Don’t touch me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Then Jesus disappears.
So Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. So Mary Magdalene starts to head back to the house to the disciples that she had seen the Lord.
After appearing to Mary Magdalene, Jesus now appears to the group of the women who were walking back to the house. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. The women came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there you will all see me.”
In a little while, Mary Magdalene obviously catches up to this group of mostly older women walking back to the house and tells them that she had seen the Lord at the tomb. Then the women excitedly shared with her that they too had seen the Lord. This group of women included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and John and some other women.
So when the Mary Magdalene and the other women arrive back at the house, they tell the Eleven apostles and the other disciples that they had seen the Lord.
First the women had told the men that they had seen angels and now they are telling the men the Jesus is alive again. That he had risen from the dead. It was hard enough to believe that the women saw the angels but now they are claiming that Jesus was alive again. That he had risen from the dead. That was hard to believe. Except the men had confirmed that the tomb was empty. Later of course the men would find out that the guards also had seen the angel on top of the stone, confirming that portion of the women’s story.
Peter after listening to the women claim that Jesus had risen again gets up and runs back to the tomb again. Why? For probably two reasons. He may have wanted to see if Jesus would appear to him also near the tomb. But he probably went back there to re-check what John told him about the burial clothes. You see John probably told Peter on the way back from the tomb that he believed Jesus had risen from the dead even though he, that is John, nor no one else had yet seen Jesus. The reason why John immediately believed this when he had entered the tomb was because of how he saw the strips of linen lying there.
John had seen the strips of linen simply lying there, deflated. Indicating to John that body of Jesus passed through the burial clothes without disturbing them. Had someone unwrapped the strips of linen they would be in a messy heap? And the long burial cloth that covered the wrapped boy of Jesus was lying by itself folded up. Obviously either the Angel or Jesus himself did this to expose the untouched strips of cloth that his body had passed through without disturbing them.
While Peter pondered all this, Jesus appeared to him also. So Peter was the first man that Jesus appeared to. But there would be lots of man and women who would yet see Jesus alive again that day and in the subsequent days.
That same day, Jesus also appeared in a different form to two men, two of Jesus’s disciples, while they were walking in the country on the “Road To Emmaus”. I need to skip their full story in the interest of time. But these two disciples returned at once to Jerusalem apparently in the afternoon or early evening. There they found the Eleven Apostles and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon Peter.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus had appeared to them also.
Then suddenly Jesus Appears to all of his Disciples
While the two disciples who had returned from Emmaus and the disciples were all talking about what had happened in the morning, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” That is filled with the Holy Spirit.
To summarize, on that Sunday, Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene first, then to the other women, then to Simon Peter, then to the two men walking on the road to Emmaus and then to most of the apostles (Thomas was not there) and to many of his other disciples who were in the area where the women and the apostles were staying. Then over the next so many days, Jesus appeared to more people in Galilee and more people back in Jerusalem before his ascension. So that by the time of his ascension, Jesus had appear to hundreds of men which means he appeared to a few thousand before his ascension if women and probably some children are also counted.
In another broadcast, I will cover the rest of the resurrection where Jesus appears to many of his disciples in Galilee over a period of many days; teaching them and enlightening them on the scriptures. I will also cover the appearance of Jesus to Thomas who still doubted all the reports he heard from the other disciples. He said that he would not believe it until he himself saw Jesus. And I will also cover his ascension into heaven.
I hope this attempt of mine to combine all the Gospels and other sources into one continuous, time-sequenced story helps you understand what took place on that glorious first Easter Sunday.
May God bless you and your families during this beautiful and joyful Easter season!
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I hope you enjoyed today’s program. You can visit my website, www.yonkomali.com where I will list all the bibles verses from all four gospels in a time sequence for you to examine. Also if you have any questions or comments, please call me at 848-4674.