Chapter 21

Trips to the Tomb

Though the subject of this chapter has nothing to do with America in prophecy or end-time theology, it was included for clarification of Jesus crucifixion taking place “in the midst of the week” as stated back in Chapter 17. This is another key truth that aids in rightly interpreting Daniel 9:27 where is states “and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.”  Not only was this in the midst of the millennial week on during the fourth millennial day when Jesus Christ was born, or the seven year week which at the end of three and a half years when He died and raised again, but also on the fourth day of the seven day week when He was crucified.

For centuries there has been much confusion when people try to reason the differences in the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection as recorded in the four Gospels. Certainly the fact that they all tell unique perspectives of the resurrection and various events doesn’t help. Perhaps, a good way to consider their seemingly different reports is to view them like transparent overlays, similar to the ones we have seen in books showing the human skeleton, then the nerves and blood vessels, organs, muscular details and finally the skin and hair.

Similarly, the Gospels each have their place in reporting the different events which occurred around the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fact that these different events, which at times may seem contradictory, are recorded in God’s word verifies their accuracy. Therefore, the logical answer to the confusion is to recognize that there were multiple trips being made to the tomb, each being recorded in their own Gospel account.

The best way to determine the possible order of these trips to the tomb is to consider the different details that have been given about the time of day and light of the sun. Was the sun going down or coming up? These questions are actually quite easy to answer. However, we must remember that the Sabbath, like all the other biblical days, began and ended with sundown.

Genesis 1:5 – And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Genesis 1:8 – And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Genesis 1:13 – And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Genesis 1:19 – And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Genesis 1:23 – And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

Genesis 1:31 – And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Leviticus 23:32 – It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.

Matthew clearly tells us that the time frame when “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” were first going to the tomb it was “IN the end of the Sabbath.” Therefore, according to Matthew this trip took place Saturday evening prior to sunset, “IN the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.”

Matthew 28:1 – In the end <opse> of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. 

The Greek word above translated in English as “end” is “opse.” It means; late in the day; by extension, after the close of the day: (at) even, in the end. The translated phrase “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week” also adds to the confusion for most people, causing them to assume Matthew is referencing the early morning sunrise. While the Greek word which was translated using the English word “dawn” is theoretically a correct translation, it is still easy for many to assume Matthew meant the sunrise if they are not mindful of the many uses of the word “dawn.” Since the Greek word translated “dawn” follows the Greek word “opse” which translated “in the end,” the implication of the words suggests “to draw on,” or “to bring closer,” as the text itself implies, “the first day approached.” As a matter of fact, that is exactly how the same Greek word was translated in Luke’s Gospel.

 Luke 23:54 – And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on

If Matthew was intending to reference a first day of the week sunrise he would not have begun his sentence with “In the end of the Sabbath,” for the Jewish reckoning of a day is “from even unto even.” Therefore, that sunrise would have actually taken place in the middle of the Jewish first day of the week. If Matthew meant sunrise, he would have worded it as did Mark in his Gospel.

Mark 16:2 – And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.

Matthew’s account is a specific chronological statement, “IN the END of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.” It was recorded exactly as it is under the sovereign inspiration of the Holy Ghost and is in harmony with biblical/Jewish days. This clearly shows that the Sabbath had not passed and the time is before the sunset. It is during this time frame that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went “to see the sepulcher.” If we want to understand Matthews reference to it beginning to “dawn toward the first day of the week,” consider how in English we use the word “dawn” as the beginning of something. Just like “the dawn of space travel” would be a reference to the first flight of man in space. 

All the Jews in Matthew’s time would have certainly understood he was referring to the time just before sunset; the end of one day and the dawning of the next. Therefore, the earliest trip to the tomb we can qualify is Matthew’s account which took place “in the end of the Sabbath,” Saturday just before sunset.

Next, in Mark’s account we see that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where and how the body of Jesus was buried, (Mark 5:47). Then, “when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome” purchased sweet spices that when they came to the tomb they might anoint the body of Jesus for a proper burial; because His body was prepared and buried in haste “before” sunset prior to a High Sabbath. This is a point that most fail to discern, that the week of Jesus’ crucifixion there were actually two Sabbaths.

This “Sabbath” mentioned by Mark is not the seventh day weekly Sabbath, or Saturday, mention earlier in Matthew’s account. This “Sabbath” was day one of the seven consecutive day’s observance of the Feast of the Unleaven Bread. It was a “high holy day” and was therefore observed as a Sabbath in which no servile work was to be done.

John 19:31 – The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

These high days “are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations . . . beside [apart from] the [weekly] Sabbaths of the LORD.” 

Leviticus 23:5 – In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day [day fifteen] ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein… 37 These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, everything upon his day: 38 Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.

Let’s assume that Passover occurred on the fourth day of the week, which, regardless of such an assumption, would have been the fourteenth day of the first month. However, for the Jews the fourth day of the week would be our Tuesday night through Wednesday even, remember “from even unto even.” The next day from Wednesday night through Thursday even is the Fifteenth day, which would be day one the Feast of the Unleaven Bread and declared by God to be a holy convocation and a High Sabbath. Therefore, after the fifteenth day “was past” comes the sixteenth day, Thursday night through Friday even, during which the women went out and “bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him” (Mark 16:1) and then, “prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the [fourth] commandment,” (Luke 23:56). The Sabbath day was from Friday night through Saturday even.

The Apostle Mark records the actual time that the women went to the tomb was “very early in the morning the first day of the week . . . at the rising of the sun,” (Mark 16:2). This different account of Mark can only be understood without contradiction as another trip to the tomb. This is probably the latest trip to the tomb because Mark alone mentions it taking place at “the rising of the sun.”

Luke’s account, like Mark’s, mentions the herbs and it being very early in the morning “upon the first day of the week.” However, their account differs from each other when it comes to the number of angels at the tomb, one in Mark’s account, two in Luke’s. Also, Mark mentions that it was Salome that was with the two Marys, where Luke says it was Joanna.

Mark also tells us that the women “trembled and were amazed, neither said they anything to any man for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8). Yet Luke says that, “Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women that were with them told these things unto the apostles” (Luke 24:10). Are these contradictions? Or are these accounts proof of different trips with a different mixture of people going at different times?

Now the Apostle John’s account is completely different from everyone’s in that he states how Mary Magdalene went alone to the tomb and records events unique to her visit, such as her seeing Jesus outside the tomb and mistaking Him as the gardener.

Now are all the accounts wrong? Or are some right and others wrong? If so, which ones are which? As believers in the infallibility of God’s word we must believe them all to be correct. Therefore, we must endeavor to place all the pieces of information together according to the clues given and then fill in the blanks with what might have taken place and why. Remember, this is only a reasoning of the scriptures and not a declaration this is the way it absolutely happened.

Trip 1 – Matthew 28

1.  In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

Who went;

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. Just who this “other Mary” Matthew is referring to we cannot tell for sure.


This visit is Saturday evening, before sunset, “in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.”


To SEE the sepulcher (tomb). They were not going to anoint the body at this time. The purpose of this trip was to ease their sorrow and pain by visiting the grave of their lost loved one.

What happened;

Matthew 28:2 – And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for He is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you.’

It should be noted that this is the only account of the soldiers’ presence in any of the visits to the tomb. This is because after what happened they fled to tell the chief priests the things they saw.

Response of the visitors;

Matthew 24:8 – And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me.

Response of the disciples to the resurrection report;

Matthew does not record the women telling the disciples the news. This may possibly be because the women’s fear of credibility with the disciples. This would account for a second trip in which Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James sought to take “other women” with them back to the tomb under the pretense of preparing the body of Jesus as they all had earlier planned. If so, it is likely these other women were not told anything of what the two Marys had seen earlier. However, with the witness of the additional women they would be bolder to confront the disciples with the news.

Trip 2 – Luke 24

1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they [The first women] came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others [women brought they] with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher.

Who went;

Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women, (Luke 24:10).


“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning,” (Luke 24:1).

Notice the Apostle Luke says nothing in regards to the light of day? That is because it was still dark. This “very early in the morning” was apparently before sunrise.

This trip’s purpose;

The women came bringing the spices they had prepared to anoint the body of Jesus. Perhaps this was the pretense of the trip, (which I will explain later) in which Mary Magdalene and the other Mary brought “certain others with them,” (Luke 24:1).

What happened;

“They found the stone rolled away,” (Luke 24:2). There was no earthquake, no soldiers, and no angel sitting upon the stone. Therefore “they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed there about, behold two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they (the two angels) said unto them, ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead?”‘

This first part of the comment by the angels was perhaps a rebuke to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who were told earlier by the first angel who rolled back the stone, that Jesus had risen. Not only were they told this, but they had also seen Him as well when they left the tomb earlier. Still, these two angels confirm the message to all the women, “He is not here, but is risen: remember how He spoke unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying, the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered His words,” (Luke 24:6-8).

Response of the visitors;

“And they returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles,” (Luke 24:9, 10).

Response of the disciples to the women’s report;

“And their words seemed as idle tales, and they believed them not.”

How well the women knew the disciples of Jesus. Even though there were many witnesses, the disciples refused to believe. This disbelief of the disciples was probably coupled with ridicule, much like when Peter was freed from prison by the angel and knocked at the door of the house. When the damsel “came to hearken . . . she knew Peter’s voice and ran in told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her ‘Thou art mad!”‘ (Acts 12:13,14).

The disciples were frequently given to fits of unbelief and strife amongst themselves. Now to have these women telling them the unheard of, it is not hard to see how they could lash out at these women (even though Jesus Himself told them these things would be). Mary Magdalene, overcome by their disbelief and cruelty returns to the tomb again by herself, questioning herself of all she has seen and heard.

Trip 3 – John 20

1 The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher.

Who went;

Mary Magdalene alone.


“The first day of the week . . . early, when it is yet dark,” (John 20:1).


To settle her own confusion brought on by what all she had seen and the disciples strong and hurtful response toward her “idle tales.”

What happened;

Mary, upon her return, sees that the stone is indeed rolled away from the opening of the sepulchre. Determined to settle what is going on, she returns this time to find “Peter and the other disciple” and because they did not believe her first report, she now tells them a new report “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid Him,” (John 20:2).

Response of the disciples to Mary’s new report;

“Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. So they both ran together: and the other did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. And stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then comes Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together just as it had been wrapped about Jesus’ head in a place by itself. Then went in that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed.”

But they believed what? They did not believe the first report of Jesus’ resurrection, but they did believe this second report that His body was stolen.

“For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home,” (John 20:3-10).

How Mary’s crisis was settled;

Peter and John’s belief that the body of Jesus had been stolen offered no comfort to Mary. She had seen angels and heard their glorious report of Jesus’ resurrection and yet nobody believed her. Now in despair, she questions all she had seen and heard. Having been left by the two disciples, “Mary stood without the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, and sees two angels in white sitting, the one at the head the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain”

“And they said unto her, ‘Woman, why weepest thou?” The angels (knowing that Mary had been told by them, or other angels, that Jesus had risen) did not understand Mary’s sorrow. She said unto them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” This statement clearly reveals how the disciples’ lack of faith had virtually destroyed Mary’s own. Fortunately, the Author and Finisher of her faith was jealous for her.

“And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus said unto her, ‘Woman, why weepest thou?’ She supposing Him to be the gardener saith unto Him, ‘Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him and I will take him away.”‘

Poor Mary, her hope was so crushed by the disciples’ ridicule and lack of faith, that now she too, regardless of the angelic reports, believes Jesus to be still dead.

“Jesus saith unto her, ‘Mary.’ She turned herself, and saith unto Him, ‘Rabboni’ which is to say, ‘Master,” (John 20:11-16).

How comforting it must have been to hear that voice of love speak her name again. A voice which she, (being one of His sheep), had come to know and trust. All Jesus said was her name and her faith was restored. Oh if we would only listen when Jesus calls us by name, what healing power His voice holds for us!  

Trip 4 – Mark 16

  1. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him.


  • And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.

The fact that the sun was recorded as “rising” makes this the latest trip recorded.

Who went;

Having already been confronted by the disbelief of the disciples Mary Magdalene now goes and finds Mary the mother of James and Salome, and they get other women. Instead of them telling the other women about Jesus’ resurrection and risk being ridiculed by them as well, they kept their secret. In pretense they continue with their original plans to take the herbs, which they had purchased after the first day of the seven consecutive days of the Feast of the Unleaven Bread, and go to anoint the body of Jesus.

And as they went “they said among themselves, Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?” It was probably the two Mary’s asking this question of the other women. Like most people with a secret, they were probably having a hard time keeping this one to themselves. So while not talking about what all they had seen earlier, they talk about what they know will be the first sign the other women will see confirming Jesus’ resurrection.

Mark16:4 – And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment: and they were affrighted.

Notice how here in Mark’s account there is only “one young man” here and not “two angels.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if instead of this being an angel, it was actually the thief on the cross next to Jesus which said to Him, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” I’m not saying it was, but is there someone who can say it was not? The scriptures make the point how this “one young man” was clothe in a “long white garment.” It is white raiment which represents the righteousness of the saints and what better garment for the one whom by faith stood by Jesus at the end? What better reward than to be one of those privileged to declare His resurrection? Does not Matthew tell us, “And the graves were open: and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the grave after His resurrection, and went and appeared unto many?” Who can truly tell? Certainly not I. But in case you are not hearing me, once again, I’m not saying it was without a doubt the thief on the cross . . . but then who can say it was not?

Mark 16:6 – And he saith unto them, ‘Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they had lain Him.

For even here we can see his reference to Jesus as being “of Nazareth,” the way the people referred to one another back then. Like “Paul of Tarsus” or “Simon, a Cyrenian,” or “Joseph of Arimathea,” or “Mnason of Cyprus.” Men identified men with where they came from. The angel in Matthew referred to Jesus as the “Lord.” This by far is the most accurate account of Jesus, “Lord.” To refer to Jesus as being from Nazareth is more the perspective of man than that of God or the angels. They know from whence He truly came.

Mark 16:7 – But go your way, [as you were previously told], and tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly and fled from the sepulcher; for they trembled and were amazed; neither said they anything to any man; for they were afraid.

Can you imagine Mary Magdalene going back to try to tell the disciples again what they all saw? If indeed it was the thief on the cross? Can you see her telling them that she saw the thief as well? “I saw the thief that was crucified with Jesus and he said Jesus is alive too!” I’m sure that would have gone over really big.

Luke and John both mention how the women, then Mary, all told someone what they saw and heard, but not here. This time the encounter and message were not told “to any man: for they were afraid.” What were the women afraid of? The reason they told no one because they were “afraid” of even greater ridicule. Now had this “young man . . . clothed in a long white garment” had been an angel, his angelic position would have perhaps obliged the women to go and tell. But if this “man,” was the condemned thief, what authority had he? Of course you and I, not in their situation, can readily see his authority would be of God. But put yourself in their position. Put yourself in Mary Magdalene’s, after all she had been through. What would you do?

It was not until Sunday evening (before sunset because it is still the first day of the week) that Jesus appeared unto all the disciples “as they sat at meat.” Then Jesus rebuked them for “their unbelief (lack of faith) and hardness of heart, (evident in their lack of compassion on the women), because they believed not them which had seen Him after

He had risen!”

Please dear reader do not be as they were, slow to believe all that the scriptures tell you. It truly is as Jesus said unto Thomas, “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they which have not seen, and yet have believed,” (John 20:29). Therefore I pray you too may be blessed for your belief in His resurrection.

In light of the fact the Jesus’ resurrection took place “in the end of the Sabbath” and not on Sunday morning, one would do well to prayerfully examine the soundness of teaching Sunday as a new “Christian Sabbath,” or as proof for ignoring God’s Fourth Commandment. For if the popular assumption that Sunday morning was the time that Jesus rose from the dead is the foundation for Sunday replacing the Lord’s Sabbath and becoming the new “Lord’s Day,” it may very well be nothing more than a foundation of sand and not of stone.

Furthermore, when considering the Fourth Commandment, do not fail to acknowledge the words God spoke through Isaiah as he prophesied of the Lord’s coming judgment. “Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty, and turns it upside down… because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, [thus] broken the everlasting covenant, (Isaiah 24:1-5). Notice “laws” is plural and “ordinance” is singular. Out of all the Ten Commandments there is only one ordinance given, that being “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.” These are sobering words that cause me to tremble at the wisdom and ease with which many professing believers have casually dismissed the Fourth Commandment while faithfully holding to the validity of the rest.

However, please, please, do not let this be a means of divisiveness. In these times we must focus on drawing near to God and seeking Him while He may be found. The Sabbath is doubtless a blessing to those who take rest and commune with God on that day, but it is no wise the foundational stone for men’s salvation. Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected is the only foundation for salvation in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Therefore, if at all possible, 15follow peace with all men; remembering that true faith works by love, sacrificial love.

1st Corinthians 13:8 Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we all only know in part, and therefore we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then this which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 Likewise, presently we see through a glass, darkly; but then it will be face to face: now I can only know in part; but then I will know even as also I am known. 13 Right now abides faith, hope, charity, but of these three the greatest is charity.