Easter is coming soon (Resurrection Sunday, for those wanting to distance the day from its pagan roots), and I’m starting in on a longer post for the occasion. But for all of us, I thought it might be a good time to read the story from the original source material to brush up on the details and catch all the in-jokes your special seeker-friendly musical / drama will throw in for a good chuckle.
Of course, the Bible has four versions of the story, and that’s a lot of material to cover when you’re trying to keep everything straight. It’s easy to get confused about…
- how many people went to the tomb, and who were they?
- when did they go?
- was there an earthquake?
- were there guards?
- were angels there? how many?
- did Jesus appear before the women left? after return? not at all?
- were the women too afraid to talk? or too excited to keep a secret? or just confused about the whole thing?
We’re all busy people and we don’t have the time to read and compare. So for your Easter primer, I’ve put together the four accounts side-by-side-by-side-by-side. (Arranged in order from earliest written to most recently written… not mundane to spectacular, that’s coincidence.)
|Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise,||After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week,||On the first day of the week, very early in the morning,||Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark,|
|Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome||Mary Magdalene and the other Mary||the women||Mary Magdalene|
|were on their way to the tomb||went to look at the tomb.||took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.||went to the tomb|
|There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb,|
|They saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.||rolled back the stone and sat on it.||They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,||and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.|
|As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.||His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.||suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.|
|The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.|
|“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.||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 and see the place where he lay.||The men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’”|
|But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”||Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”|
|Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They 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 they will see me.”|
|The women went out and fled from the tomb.||So the women hurried away from the tomb,||When they came back from the tomb,|
|They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.||afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.||they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.||So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”|
|Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.||Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.|
|Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been.
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
|While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.|
Don’t worry if any of that seems inconsistent for an infallible inerrant source, you’re just reading it wrong. There are countless articles online that can help you realize that it’s all totally consistent. (Like here, here, here, here or here or whatever your favorite.)
The Bible is said to be the way to know the perfect creator who, like an awkward pigtail-pulling teenage boy, wants a personal relationship with you but can’t quite clearly express it. Like a loyal wingman or diplomatic translator, it’s good that we have pastors and apologists (and a $1.2 billion annual Christian book market) to tell us what He really meant.