The Resurrection in The Four Gospels




Jan Lilleby

 ​​​​ The four Gospel writers were telling of the very same resurrection of Jesus Christ, and still, the story has been​​ described a bit different​​ between these writers.​​ I shall quote from Amplified Bible.

It is interesting to observe how each one wrote of the same sensational event!



We need to quote first from Mat. 27:64-66 on the Pharisees’ measures to guard the tomb,

“Therefore give an order to have the tomb made secure and safeguarded until the third day, for fear that His disciples will come and steal Him away to tell the people that He has risen from the dead, and the last deception and fraud will be worse than the first. 65: Pilate said to them, You have a guard (of soldiers; take them and) go, make it as secure as you can. 66: So they went off and made the tomb secure by sealing the boulder, a guard of soldiers being with them and remaining to watch.”

Mat. 28:1-17,

Now after the Sabbath, near dawn of the first​​ day​​ of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.​​  

​​ ​​ 2:​​ And a great earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone [from the opening of the tomb], and sat on it.​​ 

3:​​ The angel’s appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were as white as snow.​​ 

4:​​ The guards shook, paralyzed with fear [at the sight] of him and became like dead men [pale and immobile].​​   ​​ ​​ ​​​​ 

​​ ​​ 5​​ ​​ But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.​​  

​​ 6 ​​​​ He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said [He would]. Come! See the place where He was lying.​​  

​​  ​​​​ 7 ​​​​ Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee [as He promised]. There you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

8:​​ So the women left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell [the good news to] the disciples.​​  

9:​​ And​​ as they went, suddenly, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” And they went to Him and took hold of His feet [in homage] and worshiped Him [as the Messiah].​​  

​​ 10 ​​ ​​​​ Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me [just as I promised].”

 11​​  ​​​​ While they were on their way, some of the [Roman] guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.​​ 

 12 ​​​​ And when the chief priests had gathered with the elders and had consulted together [to develop a plan of deception], they gave a sufficient sum of money [as a bribe] to the soldiers,​​  

 ​​​​ 13 ​​ ​​​​ and said, “You say this, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him while we were sleeping.’​​  

 ​​​​ 14 ​​ ​​​​ And if the governor (Pilate) hears about it, we will calm him down and keep you out of trouble.”​​  

 ​​​​ 15 ​​​​ So they took the money [they were paid for lying] and did as they were instructed; and this [fabricated] story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to the present day.

  ​​​​ 16​​  ​​​​ Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.​​ 

 ​​​​ 17​​ And when they saw Him, they worshiped​​ Him; but some doubted [that it was really He].



Mark’s story is not mentioning the incident of the​​ tomb being guarded​​ and the boulder sealed, to stop eventual theft of the body – like we learn from Mat. 27:64-66. And​​ -​​ neither can we find​​ soldiers paralyzed by the angel​​ who came and opened the tomb.​​ Nor the​​ Pharisaic conspiracy​​ to lie of the disciples to have stolen Jesus’ body, Mat. 28:12-15.


Mark 16: 1-14,

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the​​ mother​​ of James, and Salome purchased [sweet-smelling] spices, so that they might go and anoint Him.​​ 

2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.​​ 

3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”​​ 

4 Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, though it was extremely large.​​ 

5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right, wearing a [long, stately] white robe; and they were amazed​​ and​​ bewildered.​​ 

6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See, [here is] the place where they laid Him.​​ 

7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there, just as He told you.’”​​ 

8 They went out and fled from the tomb, for they were seized with trembling and astonishment; and they said nothing [about it] to anyone, because they were afraid.

Now Jesus, having risen [from death] early on the first day of the week, appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.​​ 

10 She went and reported it to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping.

​​ 11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe it.

12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking along the way to the country.​​ 

13 They returned [to Jerusalem] and told the others, but they did not believe them either.

14 Later, Jesus appeared to the eleven [disciples] themselves as they were reclining​​ at the table; and He called them to account for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen [from death].​​ 


Luke has a​​ thorough​​ narrative in regard to the resurrection​​ and that which took place right after.​​ Not the least as we find the story of the two disciples walking over to Emmaus, a town 12​​ kilometers from Jerusalem, in the​​ direction of​​ Ayalon Valley.​​ (E. Robinson, made a theory of Emmaus​​ being​​ as far from Jerusalem as 29 kilometers….but such a distance would have taken at least 5 hours walk).​​ As they were on their way, suddenly Jesus came among them and accompanied them to the town and spoke of His death and resurrection. Such a walk would normally take around 2​​ hours including some rest underway.​​ Matthew mentions​​ the two – however he did not include details like Luke did.

Luke 24:1-45,

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, [the women] went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had made ready.

2 And they found the stone rolled back from the tomb,

3 But when they went inside, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

4 And while they were perplexed and wondering what to do about this, behold, two men in dazzling raiment suddenly stood beside them.

5 And as [the women] were frightened and were bowing their faces to the ground, the men said to them, Why do you look for the living among [those who are] dead?

6 He is not here, but has risen! Remember how He told you while He was still in Galilee

7 That the Son of Man must be given over into the hands of sinful men (men whose way or nature is to act in opposition to God) and be crucified and on the third day rise [from death].

8 And they remembered His words.

9 And having returned from the tomb, they reported all these things [taken together] to the eleven apostles and to all the rest.

10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who reported these things to the apostles.

11 But these reports seemed to the men an idle tale (madness, feigned things, nonsense), and they did not believe the women.

12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; and stooping down and looking in, he saw the linen cloths alone by themselves, and he went away, wondering about and marveling at what had happened.

13 And behold, that very day two of [the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, [which is] about seven miles from Jerusalem.

14 And they were talking with each other about all these things that had occurred.

15 And while they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them.

16 But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him.

17 And He said to them, What is this discussion that you are exchanging (throwing back and forth) between yourselves as you walk along? And they stood still, looking sad and downcast.

18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered Him, Do you alone dwell as a stranger in Jerusalem and not know the things that have occurred there in these days?

19 And He said to them, What [kind of] things? And they said to Him, About Jesus of Nazareth, Who was a Prophet mighty in work and word before God and all the people -

20 And how our chief priests and rulers gave Him up to be sentenced to death, and crucified Him.

21 But we were hoping that it was He Who would redeem and set Israel free. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things occurred.

22 And moreover, some women of our company astounded us and drove us out of our senses. They were at the tomb early [in the morning]

23 But did not find His body; and they returned saying that they had [even] seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive!

24 So some of those [who were] with us went to the tomb and they found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.

25 And [Jesus] said to them, O foolish ones [sluggish in mind, dull of perception] and slow of heart to believe (adhere to and trust in and rely on) everything that the prophets have spoken!

26 Was it not necessary and essentially fitting that the Christ (the Messiah) should suffer all these things before entering into His glory (His majesty and splendor)?

27 Then beginning with Moses and [throughout] all the Prophets, He went on explaining and interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning and referring to Himself.

28 Then they drew near the village to which they were going, and He acted as if He would go further.

29 But they urged and insisted, saying to Him, Remain with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. So He went in to stay with them.

30 And it occurred that as He reclined at table with them, He took [a loaf of] bread and praised [God] and gave thanks and asked a blessing, and then broke it and was giving it to them

31 When their eyes were [instantly] opened and they [clearly] recognized Him, and He vanished (departed invisibly).

32 And they said to one another, Were not our hearts greatly moved and burning within us while He was talking with us on the road and as He opened and explained to us [the sense of] the Scriptures?

33 And rising up that very hour, they went back to Jerusalem, where they found the Eleven [apostles] gathered together and those who were with them,

34 Who said, The Lord really has risen and has appeared to Simon (Peter)!

35 Then they [themselves] related [in full] what had happened on the road, and how He was known and recognized by them in the breaking of bread.

36 Now while they were talking about this, Jesus Himself took His stand among them and said to them, Peace (freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin) be to you!

37 But they were so startled and terrified that they thought they saw a spirit.

38 And He said to them, Why are you disturbed and troubled, and why do such doubts and questionings arise in your hearts?

39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Feel and handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see that I have.

40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.

41 And while [since] they still could not believe it for sheer joy and marveled, He said to them, Have you anything here to eat?

42 They gave Him a piece of broiled fish,

43 And He took [it] and ate [it] before them.

44 Then He said to them, This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything which is written concerning Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.

45 Then He [thoroughly] opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures


John’s​​ Gospel is​​ using​​ two whole chapters​​ describing the Lord’s resurrection and what happened in regard to this. He shot​​ close-up photos’ of the believers who experienced this sensational move of God, the Father of Christ.

This is the​​ resurrection narrative of which most people will take to tears, and keep on weeping. It touches your innermost being and you get emotional beyond understanding. What strikes us the most is the Lord’s​​ inhumane suffering and agony​​ He went through​​ for our salvation. He hung on the cross for six full hours,​​ like​​ we learn in​​ Mark 15:25 – from 09.oo till 15.oo.

One may​​ cry and weep over this – and yet, behold! Jesus has​​ risen from the dead,​​ and we will cry over this, and weep, but​​ now for joy!​​ These emotional peaks are very present when reading John’s narrative.​​ 


John​​ 20 and 21 Chapters,

1. Now on​​ the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been removed from (lifted out of the groove across the entrance of) the tomb.

2. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, whom Jesus [tenderly] 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!

3. Upon this, Peter and the other disciple came out and they went toward the tomb.

4. And they came running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and arrived at the tomb first.

5. And stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not enter.

6. Then Simon Peter came up, following him, and went into the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there;

7. But the burial napkin (kerchief) which had been around Jesus' head, was not lying with the other linen cloths, but was [still] rolled up (wrapped round and round) in a place by itself.

8. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, went in too; and he saw and was convinced and believed.

9. For as yet they did not know (understand) the statement of Scripture that He must rise again from the dead. [Ps. 16:10.]

10. Then the disciples went back again to their homes (lodging places).

11. But Mary remained standing outside the tomb sobbing. As she wept, she stooped down [and looked] into the tomb.

12. And she saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13. And they said to her, Woman, why are you sobbing? She told them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.

14. On saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing [there], but she did not know (recognize) that it was Jesus.

15. Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you crying [so]? For Whom are you looking? Supposing that it was the gardener, she replied, Sir, if you carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him and I will take Him away.

16. Jesus said to her, Mary! Turning around she said to Him in Hebrew, Rabboni!–which means Teacher or Master.

17. Jesus said to her, Do not cling to Me [do not hold Me], for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brethren and tell them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.

18. Away came Mary Magdalene, bringing the disciples news (word) that she had seen the Lord and that He had said these things to her.

19. Then on that same first day of the week, when it was evening, though the disciples were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace to you!

20. So saying, He showed them His hands and His side. And when the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy (delight, exultation, ecstasy, rapture).

21. Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! [Just] as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.

22. And having said this, He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit!

23. [Now having received the Holy Spirit, and being led and directed by Him] if you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.

24. But Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.

25. So the other disciples kept telling him, We have seen the Lord! But he said to them, Unless I see in His hands the marks made by the nails and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe [it].

26. Eight days later His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, though they were behind closed doors, and stood among them and said, Peace to you!

27. Then He said to Thomas, Reach out your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand and place [it] in My side. Do not be faithless and incredulous, but [stop your unbelief and] believe!

28. Thomas answered Him, My Lord and my God!

29. Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)? Blessed and happy and to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me.

30. There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book.

31. But these are written (recorded) in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of God, and that through believing and​​ cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him you may have life through (in) His name [through Who He is]. [Ps. 2:7, 12.]

John 21​​ 

1. AFTER THIS, Jesus let Himself be seen and revealed [Himself] again to the disciples, at the Sea of Tiberias. And He did it in this way:

2. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas, called the Twin, and Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, also the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples.

3. Simon Peter said to them, I am going fishing! They said to him, And we are coming with you! So they went out and got into the boat, and throughout that night they caught nothing.

4. Morning was already breaking when Jesus came to the beach and stood there. However, the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

5. So Jesus said to them, Boys (children), you do not have any meat (fish), do you? [Have you caught anything to eat along with your bread?] They answered Him, No!

6. And He said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find [some]. So they cast the net, and now they were not able to haul it in for such a big catch (mass, quantity) of fish [was in it].

7. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord! Simon Peter, hearing him say that it was the Lord, put (girded) on his upper garment (his fisherman's coat, his outer tunic)–for he was stripped [for work]–and sprang into the sea.

8. And the other disciples came in the small boat, for they were not far from shore, only some hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.

9. When they got out on land (the beach), they saw a fire of coals there and fish lying on it [cooking], and bread.

10. Jesus said to them, Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.

11. So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net to land, full of large fish, 153 of them; and [though] there were so many of them, the net was not torn.

12. Jesus said to them, Come [and] have breakfast. But none of the disciples ventured or dared to ask Him, Who are You? because they [well] knew that it was the Lord.

13. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so also [with] the fish.

14. This was now the third time that Jesus revealed Himself (appeared, was manifest) to the disciples after He had risen from the dead.

15. When they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do–with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father]? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [that I have deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. He said to him, Feed My lambs.

16. Again He said to him the second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father]? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. He said to him, Shepherd (tend) My sheep.

17. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]? Peter was grieved (was saddened and hurt) that He should ask him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep.

18.​​ I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, when you were young you girded yourself [put on your own belt or girdle] and you walked about wherever you pleased to go. But when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put a girdle around you and carry you where you do not wish to go.

19.​​ He said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. And after this, He said to him, Follow Me!

20.​​ But Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved, following–the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper and had said, Lord, who is it that is going to betray You?

21.​​ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, Lord, what about this man?

22.​​ Jesus said to him, If I want him to stay (survive, live) until I come, what is that to you? [What concern is it of yours?] You follow Me!

23.​​ So word went out among the brethren that this disciple was not going to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but, If I want him to stay (survive, live) till I come, what is that to you?

24.​​ It is this same disciple who is bearing witness to these things and who has recorded (written) them; and we [well] know that his testimony is true.

25.​​ And there are also many other things which Jesus did. If they should be all recorded one by one [in detail], I suppose that even the world itself could not contain (have room for) the books that would be written.




Acts 1:22,

“From the baptism of John at the outset until the day when He was taken up from among us – one of these men must join with us and​​ become a witness to testify to His resurrection.”

Acts 2:24, 30, 31,

“God​​ raised Him up, liberating Him from the pangs of death,​​ seeing that it was not possible for Him to continue to be controlled or retained by it.

30: (David) being however a prophet, and knowing that God had sealed to him with an oath that He would set one of his descendants on his throne. 31:​​ He, foreseeing this, spoke (by foreknowledge)​​ of the resurrection of the Christ (the Messiah)​​ that He was not deserted (in death) and left in Hades (the state of departed spirits), nor did His body know decay or see destruction.”

Acts 3:15,

“But you killed the very Source (the Author of life), Whom God​​ raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.”

Acts 4:10,

“Let it be known and understood by all of you (addressing Sanhedrin), and by the whole house of Israel, that in the name and through the power and authority of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom you crucified,​​ (but) Whom God raised from the dead,​​ in Him and by means of Him​​ this man is standing​​ here before you well and sound in body.”

Acts 4:33,

“And with great strength and ability and power the apostles delivered their testimony​​ to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,​​ and great grace​​ (loving-kindness and favor and goodwill) rested richly​​ upon them all.”



It is convenient to first quote Paul’s well known declaration concerning the resurrection, from 1 Cor. 15:3-6,

“For I passed on to you first of all what I also had received, that Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for our sins in accordance with (what) the Scriptures (foretold), 4:​​ that He was buried, that he arose on the third day as the Scriptures foretold.​​ 5: And (also) that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the Twelve. 6: Then later He showed Himself to​​ more than five hundred brethren at one time,​​ the majority of whom are still alive, but some have fallen in sleep (in death).”

1 Cor. 15:17, 20, 21​​ – Paul tells of which consequences for us if Christ had not been resurrected, as well as our blessed salvation, since Christ actually was raised from the dead,

“And if Christ had not been raised, your faith is mere delusion (futile, fruitless), and you are still in your sins (under the control and penalty of sin); - 20: But the​​ fact is that Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (in death).​​ 21: For since (it was) through a man that death (came in to the world, it is) also through a Man​​ that the resurrection of the dead​​ (has come).”

Paul, as he was given the revelation of the Mystery hid in God (a new dispensation, that of the Grace of God for all the world – see ch. 3:1-9), clearly​​ hold on to the atonement made by Jesus on the cross. And he connects us directly with Him in His death and resurrection, as we read Eph. 2:14, 15,

“For He is (Himself) our peace (our bond of unity and harmony). He has made us both (Jew and Gentile) one (body), and has broken down​​ (destroyed, abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us. 15: By abolishing in His​​ (own crucified)​​ flesh the enmity (caused by) the Law (of Moses) with its decrees and ordinances (which He annulled); that He from the two might create in Himself one new man (one new quality of humanity out of the two), so making peace.”

Col. 2:11, 12​​ points specifically to the spiritual facts that we, the believers in Christ according to Paul’s Grace Gospel, we​​ died with Christ (baptized to His death) and so we are also raised with Christ,

“For in Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision​​ not made with hands (but made by God), in a (spiritual) circumcision (performed by) Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts). 12: (Thus you were circumcised when) you were​​ buried with Him (in your) baptism, in which you were also raised with Him (to a new life)​​ through (your) faith in the working of God​​ (as displayed)​​ when He raised Him up from the dead.”

Paul tells that as a person comes to faith in Christ, he is immediately ‘baptized’ into the​​ death of Christ​​ (as if circumcised by God, not by man) –​​ and buried with Christ thus.​​ And so we therefore are raised up from the dead by Him.​​ It is the very same reference given in Eph. 4, 5:​​ “…one baptism.”

There are many other things to mention of the​​ resurrection of Christ, both the physical one after He had been three days in the tomb, and also Paul’s spiritual imagery of us as​​ resurrected with Christ. In other words: Saved by faith in Christ.





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