Mary at Jesus' Tomb


Mary at the Tomb 






           Joseph Francis Alward  
                © Copyright 2004



Did Mary think someone had stolen Jesus' body, and she didn't know where it was, or did an angel tell her that Jesus had risen, and was heading to Galillee?




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One of the most blatant examples of contradiction between gospels is found in the stories of the resurrection morning.

According to Matthew, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found out from an angel there that Jesus rose from his tomb.  Filled with joy at learning that Jesus was alive, she ran to tell the disciples, but on the way she met Jesus, who told her to tell the disciples he would meet them in Galilee.  Here is the story:


After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb…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. 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." So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 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." (Matthew 28:1-9)


As the reader will see below that the account above by the Matthew author is in complete contradiction to the story told by John, who mentions nothing about an angel with the joyful message, and nothing about Mary meeting Jesus.  Instead, the author of John says that Mary found the tomb empty and she runs to tell Simon Peter that someone had stolen the body, and she doesn't know where the body is.  Here is the story.


Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 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!" (John 20:1-2)


The reason for this blatant contradiction seems clear: the John and Matthew accounts are based on two separate traditional beliefs about what happened when the women visited the tomb.  One tradition held that Mary found out from the angel at the tomb that Jesus was alive and on his way to Galilee, while another tradition had Mary believing that the body of Jesus had been stolen, and she didn't know where it was.