The Four Gospel Accounts for the Resurrection & Burial

Bill Henness


Communication was very poor in Bible days, when Jesus died and was buried. Starting with the account of his body being taken down from the cross until his alleged resurrection from the dead. We will see just how poor communication was between different groups of people.

First, Joseph of Arimathaea burying Jesus' body.

"And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed." (Matt. 29:59,60)

Did you notice in passing that "he wrapped it in a linen cloth?" Only HE did it, and it was A LINEN CLOTH, singular, not clothes, plural. Then also, he alone rolled a great stone to the door. So, if one man rolled the stone to the door, couldn't two roll it away, unsealed? Mark 15:46 says the same as Matthew, so also does Luke 23:53 and John 19:38.

Then we get to Nicodemus.

"And there came also Nicodemus, who at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight." (John 19:39)

Nicodemus came alone carrying a hundred pounds of spices, quite a heavy load. They two, Nicodemus and Joseph evidently didn't come together, but Nicodemus came behind Joseph. Then;

"Then took THEY the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes (plural) with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. There laid THEY Jesus,..." (John 19:40,42a)

Its entirely possible that Nicodemus also brought some linen because of what use was the hundred pounds of spices without wrappings? So, when he arrived at the tomb he saw Joseph already there with more linen. They must have wrapped the body very fast to avoid working on the special Sabbath day which started at sun down. They probably had some linen left over, so they just left it there when they left the tomb.

Now the women watched to see where Joseph put the body.

"And there were Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, SITTING OVER AGAINST THE SEPULCHER." (Matt. 27:61)

"And Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, BEHELD WHERE HE WAS LAID." (Mark 15:47)

"And the women also, who came with him from Galilee, followed,


-- then; "And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments,..." (v. 56)

Now, from this time just before sunset on Friday evening, until sometime the next day, probably around mid-day or afternoon, according to what was done and the dialog.

"Now the NEXT DAY, that followed the day of preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command, therefore, that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, LEST HIS DISCIPLES COMEBY 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. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch." (Matt. 27:62-66)

I think that is exactly what happened. I think that night (Friday night) before the tomb was sealed, some came to the tomb and took the body away, probably to another place and buried it there. When they took the body wrapped in linen, they probably left the excess linen that Nicodemus left there. Remember, later on Sunday;

"Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and,

stooping down,HE BEHELD THE LINEN CLOTHES, LAID BY THEMSELVES,and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass." (Luke 24:12)

"And he (John), stooping down and looking in, SAW THE LINEN CLOTHES LYING; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth THE LINEN CLOTHES LYING THERE, AND THE CLOTH, THAT WAS ABOUT HIS HEAD, NOT LYING WITH THE LINEN CLOTHES, BUT WRAPPED TOGETHER IN A PLACE

BY ITSELF." (John 20:5-8)

Now the women had seen the tomb where the body was put by Joseph, so they came to THAT TOMB early Sunday morning (either before day brake or after it was light, depending on which gospel record you read.)

"..., came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary TO SEE THE SEPULCHER." (Matt. 28:1)

"..., Mary Magdalene, and MARY, THE MOTHER OF JAMES,


Notice that the other Mary was the mother of James and Salome, not the mother of Joses as Mark says in 15:47. Notice also these two women in Mark, came to anoint the body, not to see the sepulcher as Matthew says.

Luke says these two women came with other women also.

"..., they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared,

and certain others with them." (Luke 24:1)

John says it was only one woman.

"..., cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher,..." (John 20:1)

So, the women didn't know Nicodemus and Joseph already had done it.

The following are even more contradictions in the four gospel accounts.

1. At what time did the women visit the tomb? Mark 16:2 says at the rising of the sun; John 20:1 says when it was yet dark.

2. Who came? John 20:1 says Mary Magdalene; Matt. 28:1 says Mary Magdalene and the other Mary; Mark 16:1 says Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome; Luke 24:10 says Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women.

3. Was the tomb open or closed when they arrived? Luke 24:2 says it was open; Matt. 28:1,2 says it was closed.

4. Whom did they see at the tomb? Matt. 28:2 says the angel; Mark 16:5 says a young man; Luke 24:4 says two men; John 20:11,12 says two angels.

5. Were these men/angels inside or outside the tomb? Matt. 28:2 says outside, while Mark 16:5 Luke 24:3,4, and John 20:11,12 say inside.

6. Were they standing or sitting? Luke 24:4 says they were standing; Matt. 28:2, Mark 16:5, and John 20:12 say they were sitting.

7. Did the women tell the disciples what they had seen? Luke 24:8,9 says yes; Mark 16:8 says no.

8. Did Mary Magdalene know Jesus when he first appeared to her? Matt. 28:9 says yes; John 20:14 says no.

9. Was Mary Magdalene permitted to touch Jesus when he first appeared to her? Matt. 28:9 says yes; John 20:17 says no.

10. How did the women find out that Jesus had risen? Matt. 28:5,6 says the angel sitting on the outside told them; Mark 16:5,6 says the man who was on the right side, inside the tomb, told them, and Luke 24:5,6 says the two men inside the tomb told them.

It should also be noted that an empty tomb does not prove a resurrection really occurred. As Geisler admits on page 37 in "The Battle for the Resurrection," "The empty tomb in itself does not prove the resurrection of Christ any more than a missing body in a morgue proves someone has resurrected." Neither does an empty tomb plus A SERIES OF APPEARANCES OF SOMEONE WHO WAS NOT RECOGNIZED BY ANYONE, prove the resurrection. The original body could have been moved and have disappeared and the appearances could have been of someone else who slightly resembled him.

I think it is entirely possible that from the time he was buried and the stone rolled up to the entrance, until the next day when the soldiers sealed it, that disciples came, rolled the stone away, (it wasn't sealed yet) moved the body to an undisclosed location, left some of the grave clothes, then rolled back the stone. The woman/women who had watched where he was buried, returned two days later, (early Sunday morning), thinking the body was in that tomb, to the tomb which was now empty. Peter and John returned to this now empty tomb also.

Moreover, every time someone saw the resurrected Jesus, they all did not recognize him as Jesus.


Bill Henness


Brian Worley     July 28, 2009     All rights reserved!


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