The Resurrection Accounts

By Bob Myhan

Atheists, skeptics and cynics often employ the resurrection accounts as examples of con­tradictions that prove the Bible was not inspired. Admittedly, there are differ­ences in the resurrection accounts. However, dif­ferences are not contradic­tions. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were writing from different perspectives and, therefore, did not write identical ac­counts. Nor should one expect them to do so. By splicing the four accounts to­gether one can gain a better appre­ciation of their harmony.

The Burial

The four writers agree that Joseph of Arimathea removed Jesus’ body from the cross and laid it in a new tomb.

Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who him­self had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. (Matt. 27:57-60)

Now when evening had come, be­cause it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, com­ing and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. (Mark 15:42-46)

Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not con­sented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. (Luke 23:50-54)

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, be­ing a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby. (John 19:38-42)

While only John wrote that Nicodemus aided Joseph, he does not contradict the others; he supplements them. None of them wrote that Joseph acted alone.

The Women Observe the Tomb

Three of the four evangelists mention the fact that the women were careful to discover the location of the tomb.

And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. (Matt. 27:61)

And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses ob­served where He was laid. (Mark 15:47)

And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. (Luke. 23:55-56)

Only Luke gave the reason they made the effort, but, again, this is not contra­dictory but supplementary. It is true that John does not tell of this event but he does not say it did not happen.

The Women Come to the Tomb

Matthew, Mark and Luke mention the visit of several women to the tomb on the morning of the resurrection, while John mentions only Mary Magdalene.

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. (Matt. 28:1)

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. (Mark 16:1)

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. (Luke 24:1)

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. (John 20:1)

Again, John only says Mary Magdalene came to the tomb but he does not deny that the others came. Does John con­tradict Matthew, Mark and Luke? Just what is a contra­diction? One statement contradicts an­other only if both state­ments cannot be true. That is, given that one of the state­ments is true, the other cannot also be true. Can the statement of John above be reconciled with the statements of Matthew, Mark and Luke? It certainly can.

It is certainly conceivable that Mary Magdalene left with the others but, at some point, ran ahead of them, arriving at the tomb before them. In the very next verse John implies that there were others with Mary Magdalene at or near the tomb.

Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." (John 20:2)

The “we” could certainly be inclusive of all the women mentioned by Matthew, Mark and Luke. Thus, there is no con­tradiction between them and John.

[To be continued]

What Is Hell Really Like?

By Dillard Thurman

[Continued from last week]

The Horrible Torments Of Hell: -- Hell offers only torment and anguish. It is just the opposite of heaven, where God will bless all those who faithfully obey Him. As heaven offers every joy and goodness, hell will offer only pain and remorse. As noted earlier, "weeping and gnashing of teeth" portray the anguish of the lost. And it will be eternal punishment "where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." The horrors of that place of the lost will also be associated with "outer darkness" where no light can penetrate. On the other hand, heaven will have no "need for candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light" (Rev. 22:5). Just think of the excruciating pain of hell fire for eternity, with no light to comfort. I don't want to be subjected to that kind of torment for a minute -- much less for eternity!

I Am Not Invited To Hell: -- I don't like to go where I am not invited. When Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16), He opened the curtain to reveal that those who are lost don't want company. The rich man pleaded that one be sent back into the world to warn his brothers, "Lest they also come to this place of torment" (Lk. 16:28). One says, "If my mother went to hell, then I want to go there too." How foolish! If your loved ones are lost, they surely don't want you to go there. All who go to hell will be uninvited by its inhabitants. The lost are pleading with you not to enter there.

The Beautiful Side Of This Study: -- Have you ever considered that there is also a beautiful side to this subject? The beautiful part is that you and I don't have to go there. Hell wasn't prepared for those who love the Lord and obey Him. It is "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41). Rather, He promised, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (Jno. 14:2-3). The Lord wants us to escape hell and spend eternity in His Father's house. God “is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).

As hell is prepared for the devil and his angels, heaven is prepared for those who love and serve God. I don't have to go to hell. God gives me a choice. If I choose to trust the Lord, and do what He tells me, I can go to heaven. Shouldn't that be your choice? ----- Gospel Minutes of May 17, 1968, Reprinted in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 55, No. 5, Feb. 3, 2006. &