The First Appearance
We continue with Matthew’s account while filling some of the wholes in the story with the other gospels. Matthew 28:8-10 picks up the story. The three women (Mary – the mother of James, Salome, and Joanna) leave the tomb to go tell the disciples what had happen. And at this moment, they are the only ones who believe the resurrection. They were filled with joy verse 8 says. So they run to tell the others.
By now, Mary spoke to Peter and John telling them that someone has stolen the body. So they run immediately to the tomb with Mary following them. John’s gospel tells us that he was running faster. So he arrives at the tomb before Peter and Mary. The guards are still unconscious and the tomb still open and the angels are still there. But John doesn’t enter. He stays at the entrance.
He peeks in and sees the grave clothes there. He is a little tense and timid about rushing into the grave. Maybe he feared that there were still some of the thieves there. Peter, on the other hand, just bursts into the grave right past John – maybe even pushing him to the side. He finds the linens neatly placed in the tomb indicating that there was no struggle. Jesus just vanished from them and then nicely placed His head rap on the side.
John decides to go in after Peter. John’s gospel says that when he entered and saw the linens, he believed. Peter was still in disbelief. Remember that Peter did not even believe that Jesus was going to die when Jesus told him that He would!
This moment was likely quite. The angels were not revealing themselves to Peter and John. There was likely no conversations between the two and so they just went back to their own homes. They had to go home and digest what just happened. They were in a bit of shock at it all.
But Mary stayed as she usually did. She was outside the tomb crying. She has not seen the angels or the linens. She is just saddened that someone has stolen the body of Jesus. She then stoops down to see in the tomb. Peter and John are gone. She sees the angels. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She replies, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
She was still under the assumption that Jesus’ body had been stolen. The resurrection didn’t register in her head and neither did the fact that there were two angels speaking with her. She was too sad to be shocked of them. She likely felt as though everything was over and nothing really mattered. She was devastated.
John 20:14 says that after she responded she turned around and saw Jesus, but did not recognize Him. She assumed that he was the gardener. Jesus asks her the same question. She responds probably a bit more firmly, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” She wanted to get the body and bury it elsewhere. She was still trying to care for the body of Jesus.
He responds to her, “Mary!” She notices the voice and turns to see Him saying, “Rabboni!” This was the most dignified language you could ever use in Aramaic, meaning “highly exalted teacher.” The Rabboni was one step above the Rabbi. So Jesus reveals Himself to her. She recognizes Him.
She then runs and grabs Him. She didn’t want to lose Jesus again. He tells her to let go, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” This opens a new door to things. See, Jesus had always referred to them as friends, but not brothers. This was implying the finished work of the atonement. Christ has paid the cost and so now all those who believe are reconciled to God.
And so she lets go and runs again. This time with full confidence of the resurrection. She runs to tell the disciples.