This blog post is a follow-up from yesterday’s blog. You can read yesterday’s post by clicking HERE

When we encounter the resurrection accounts in the New Testament we face a challenge in putting all the pieces together in a way that the sequence of the events flow in logical order. This is due to the fact that no one Gospel presents all, or even most of the data. Some of the data also seems to conflict. I tried to show in yesterday’s blog that these apparent conflicts are not, usually, true conflicts. Another problem with putting all the facts together in a coherent and reasonably complete manner is that the time line of the events is often unclear in some of the accounts. Luke and John are the clearest as to the time frame of the events they describe but Matthew and Luke give us very few parameters. Both Acts and Paul also supply data wherein the time frame is not always clear.

Nevertheless I want to propose to you a possible, dare I claim, even likely, sequence of the Resurrection events. The work is my own and I make no claim that this scenario is certain or backed up by recognized ancient authority. St Augustine has done quite a lot of work in this matter and you can read that by clicking HERE. My attempts here are simply the fruit of 20+ years of praying over and pondering the events of those forty days between the Lord’s resurrection and ascension. My reflections are based as solidly as possible on the actual biblical data with a sprinkling of speculation. I realize that the attempt to do this will irritate some modern biblical scholars who, for reasons unclear to me, seem to insist it is wrong to attempt any synthesis of the texts.

Nevertheless, I boldly press on figuring that the average believer will benefit from it and find such a synthesis interesting. Take it for what it is, the work of an obscure pastor who has prayed and carefully sought to follow the sequence of the forty days. You may wish to offer correction or alternative interpretation and are encouraged to do so in the comments. I have posted a PDF of this Document that is easier to read here: The Resurrection Appearances Chronologically Arranged

In this year’s version I have included the hyperlinks to the biblical texts so that you can simply click on them to read the text and press back to return here.

  • I. The Morning of Day One
    • A. Very early in the morning a group of several women, including Mary Magdalene, approach the tomb to complete burial customs on behalf of Jesus (Matt 28:1; Mk 16:1; Jn 20:1).
    • B. They behold the tomb opened and are alarmed.
    • C. Mary Magdalene runs to Peter and John with distressing news of likely grave robbers (Jn 20:2)
    • D. The women who remain encounter an angel who declared to them that Jesus had risen and that they should tell this to the brethren (Mk 16:5 Lk 24:4; Mt 28:5).
    • E. They are filled with fear at first and depart from the tomb afraid to speak (Mk 16:8)
    • F. Recovering their courage they decide to go to the Apostles. (Lk 24:9; Mt 28:8)
    • G. Meanwhile Peter and John have gone out to the tomb to investigate Mary’s claim. Mary Magdalene followed them back out to the tomb arriving before they left. Peter and John discover the tomb empty though they encounter no angel. John believes in the resurrection. Peter’s conclusion is not recorded.
    • H. The other women have reported what the angels say to the Apostles. Peter and John have not yet returned and these remaining apostles are dismissive of the women’s story at first (Lk 24:9-11).
    • I. Mary, lingering at the tomb weeps and is fearful. Peering into the tomb she sees this time two angels who wonder why she weeps. Jesus then approaches her from behind. Not looking directly at Jesus, she supposes him to be the gardener. Then he calls her by name, and Mary, recognizing his voice, turns and sees him. Filled with joy she clings to him. (APPEARANCE 1) (Jn 20:16)
    • J. Jesus sends her back to the apostles with the news to prepare them for his appearance later that day. (Jn 20:17)
    • K. The other women have departed the apostles and are on their way possibly back home. Jesus then appears to them (Mt 28:9) after he had dispatched Mary. He also sends them back to the apostles with the news that he had risen and that he would see them. (APPEARANCE 2)
  • II. The Afternoon and evening of day one.
    • A. Later that Day, two disciples on their way to Emmaus are pondering what they have heard about rumors of his resurrection. Jesus comes up behind them but they are prevented from recognizing him. First Jesus breaks open the word for them, then sits at table with them and celebrates the Eucharist whereupon their eyes are opened and they recognize him in the breaking of the bread. (APPEARANCE 3) (Lk 24:13-30)
    • B. The two disciples returned that evening to Jerusalem and went to the Eleven. At first the eleven disbelieved them just as they had the women (Mk 16:13). Nevertheless they continue to relate what they had experienced. At some point Peter drew apart from the others (perhaps for a walk?) And the Lord appeared to Peter (APPEARANCE 4)(Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5) who informed the other ten who then believed. Thus the disciples from Emmaus (still lingering with the apostles) were now told (perhaps by way of apology) that it was in indeed true that Jesus had risen (Lk 24:34).
    • C. Almost at the same moment Jesus appears to the small gathering of apostles and the two disciples from Emmaus. (APPEARANCE 5) Thomas was absent (although the Lucan text describes the appearance as to “the eleven” this is probably just a euphemism for “the apostles” as a group) They are startled but Jesus reassures them and opens the scriptures to them (Lk 24:36ff).
    • D. There is some debate as to whether he appeared to them a second time that night. The Johannine account has significantly different data about the appearance on the first Sunday evening from the Lucan account. Is it merely different data about the same account or is it a wholly separate appearance? It is not possible to say. Nevertheless since the data is so different we can call it (APPEARANCE 6) (Jn 20:19ff) though it is likely synonymous with appearance 5.
  • III. Interlude -
    • A. There is no biblical data that Jesus appeared to them during the week that followed. The next account of the resurrection says, “Eight days later” namely the following Sunday.
    • B. We do know that the apostles surely exclaimed to Thomas that they had seen the Lord but he refused to believe it. (Jn 20:24)
    • C. Were the apostles nervous that Jesus had not appeared again each day? Again we do not know, the data is simply silent as to what happened during this interlude.
  • IV. One week later, Sunday two.
    • A. Jesus appears once again (APPEARANCE 7) to the apostles gathered. This time Thomas is with them. He calls Thomas to faith who now confesses Jesus to be Lord and God. (Jn 20:24-29)
  • V. Interlude 2
    • A. The apostles received some instructions to return to Galilee (Mt 28:10; Mk 16:7) where they would see Jesus. Thus they spent some of the week journeying 60 miles to the north. This would have taken some time. We can imagine them making the trek north during the intervening days.
  • VI. Some time later -
    • A. The time frame of the next appearance is somewhat vague. John merely says “After this.” Likely it is a matter of days or a week at best. The scene is at the Sea of Galilee. Not all the Twelve are present. They have gone fishing, and Jesus summons them from the lakeside. They come to shore and see him (APPEARANCE 8 ) . Peter has a poignant discussion with Jesus in this appearance and is commissioned to tend the flock of Christ (Jn 21).
    • B. The Appearance to the 500. Of all the appearances you might think that this one would have been recorded in some detail since it was the most widely experienced appearance. Many accounts, it seems, would have existed and at least one would have made its way into the scriptures. Yet there is no account of it, other than it did in fact happen. Paul records the fact of this appearance: 1 Cor 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (APPEARANCE 9) Where did this take place. What was it like. What was the reaction? We simply do not know. Proof once again that the Bible is not a history book in the conventional sense. Rather it is a highly selective telling of what took place, not a complete account. The Bible makes no pretenses to be something it is not. It is quite clear that it is a selective book: (Jn 20:30).
    • C. The Appearance to James. Here again we do not have a description of this appearance only a remark by Paul that it did in fact happen: 1 Cor 15:7 Then he appeared to James. (APPEARANCE 10) The time frame is not clear. Only that it happened after the appearance to the five hundred and before the final appearance to the apostles.
  • VII. The rest of the forty days.
    • A. Jesus certainly had other on-going appearances with the disciples. Luke attests to this in Acts when he writes: Acts 1:3 To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.
    • B. During this time there is perhaps the one appearance we can attribute to this time period as recorded by Matthew (Mt 28:16ff) and Mark (Mk 16:14ff). It takes place an “a mountaintop in Galilee.” Mark adds that they were reclining at table. For these notes this appearance (time frame uncertain) is referred to as (APPEARANCE 11) It is here that he give the great commission. Although Mark’s text may seem to imply that Jesus was taken up from this mountain, such a conclusion is rash since Mark only indicates that Jesus ascended only “after he had spoken to them” (Mk 16:19).
    • Evidently Jesus had also summoned them back to Jerusalem at least toward the end of the period of the forty days. There they would be present for the feast of Pentecost. We can imagine frequent appearances with on-going instruction for Luke records that Jesus “stayed with them.” Most of these appearances and discourses are not recorded. Luke writes in Acts: And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4)
  • VIII. The final appearance and ascension:
    • A. After forty days of appearances and instructions we have a final account of the last appearance (APPEARANCE 12) wherein he led them out to a place near Bethany, gave them final instructions to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was sent. And then he was taken up to heaven in their very sight. (Lk 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-11).

So here is a possible and, if I do say so myself, likely chronological sequence of the resurrection appearances. It is a kind of synthesis that attempts to collect all the data and present it in a logical order. There are limits to what we can expect of the Scriptural account, and fitting perfectly into a time frame and logical sequence is not what the texts primarily propose to do. Yet such a chronological sequence can prove helpful and it is in that spirit that I present this.

Here is a video I put together based on a song sung here at my Parish on Good Friday. It is sung by one of our Sopranos, Marjorie Boursiquot. It is arranged by Kenneth Louis, our director and composed by Long and Pote. The song is titled: “You Love Me” Prepare for a real treat:

40 Responses

  1. Sister Mary Margaret says:

    Rev. Msgr.,

    I always wondered about the cloth napkin that was folded. If Jesus rose from the dead when no one was around to see it, why would he fold the head piece but leave the rest in a heap? What about this theory: Someone came to annoint the body (or maybe double check to see if it was really Jesus?) before everyone else arrived. They started by unwrapping his head. Something caused them to leave the task undone, as they left the napkin folded…. Maybe the stone was left open just enough that a small person could pass through (it would have been open wider when Jesus was carried in, and then the stone rolled to mostly cover the entrance. He was placed there as the sun was setting, so there was little time. Besides, there were temple guards, so a small opening wouldn’t have been unimaginable.

    Possible scenarios:

    1. Mary, mother of Jesus, comes to the tomb just before sunrise so as to be there at the crack of dawn to anoint her son. Love compels her to be there at the first possible moment. She waits, in the dark, in prayer. Just before dawn, though, an earthquake rolls the stone slightly, just enough for her to slip in. She goes in and is unwrapping the head, and…. Jesus opens His eyes and speaks to her. He is alive! He tells her to go and wait for the others. They, too, need to discover that he has risen from the dead and see it for themselves. A second, larger earthquake rolls the stone away completely. Jesus leaves the grave. Mary returns home and waits for the others to make the discovery. A few minutes after Mary departs, Mary Magdalene arrives and the rest is recorded in the gospels.

    2. Joseph of Arimathea goes to anoint the body properly. He is wealthy, and out of love for Jesus he decides to do this task himself. The rest is similar to the above scenario, except Jesus does not tell Joseph to keep the news to himself. Joseph is told to go out and find the Apostles. Jesus (of course) tells him where they are, but Joseph walks (he is middle aged) whereas Mary Magdalene will run once she discovers the empty tomb just a few minutes later. The rest takes place as recorded in the gospel.

    Just a thought –
    Sister Mary Margaret

    • Ismael says:

      I do not know… I always though that Jesus, or rather, one of the angels, folded the cloth.

      This was left as a sign, of course, that the body was not stolen.
      Why would thieves bother even taking the cloth or the bandages off Jesus if they were stealing the body, and certainly they would not have lost time folding cloths.

      From the resurrection accounts it seems to me that the Tomb was guarded by multiple guards and then there was a small earthquake that rolled the huge rock away from the entrance, also scaring the guards away (see Matthew’s version).

      Then, the next people to see the tomb appear to be the Women since they are the ones first seeing that the body was missing.

      Of course someone could have started the embalming on Saturday evening (then the Sabbath would be over, but Jesus was not raised yet, as you know days in I century Israel ended in the evening, not midnight.) but I think that is rather unlikely. An early embalmer would not let the cloth there folded, he would just put it back on Jesus again, I suppose.

      Also there is no report what so ever of this in the gospels (which might just be omitted of course), although it seems a detail that at least one of the four evangelist or at least oral tradition would have cared to remember.

      I think it was really the Women who got there first since Jesus was put in the tomb on Friday afternoon.

      • My understanding of the face cloth is twofold. First it was the most precious of the burial cloths and the thought that grave robbers (had there been any) would have left it behind is unthinkable. Hence its mere presence is evidence that this was NOT grave robbery. Secondly that it is folded indicates a careful, not a hasty exit. Here too is more evidence not of the haste of thieves but of resurrection.

    • Luis says:

      We must be careful not to infuse details or information that are not part of the Word. Our imaginations can get carried away. If in fact some of the things you suggest did happen why was it not written? In both scenarios you appear to say that Jesus’ appearance is that of the physical body. Our true appearance after resurrection would not be the same as the physical one. This is why many of the instances where Jesus appears, he is not immediately recognized.

    • royce walker says:

      this is actually a forshadowing and is very on purpose . in Hebrew custom when at a meal the person eating the meal would leave their table cloth open to let the servant know that they were done with their meal but if the table cloth was folded it was to let the servant know that the master was returning to finish this was to symbolize that Jesus was leaving but would return as he did for 49 days and that he would ultimately return on the earth in his second coming .

  2. Bender says:

    the apostles surely exclaimed to Thomas that they had seen the Lord but he refused to believe it

    I’ve said this before, but I think that Thomas gets a bit of a bad rap, especially since most people are no better than he is. After all, we are bodily creatures who learn and know things through our senses.

    But I’m not so sure that Thomas did not believe. All we have is Thomas saying that he would not believe. Inwardly, he might have believed, but thought it too fantastic to be true. That Thomas would experience cognitive dissonance would not be surprising. And if we parse the translation further, he says, “I will not believe,” not “I do not believe” or “I cannot believe.” Rather, his is a statement of will. (Of course, this is from the English translation.)

    Why this verbal expression of willed non-belief? It could be because he is weak in the faith and needs proof, but earlier he was strong enough in the faith to be willing to die with Jesus if necessary. (Jn 11:16).

    Or it could be because he wants to see Jesus too. Thomas misses Him, he wants to be with Him, and this is a way to kind of prompt Jesus to come. Besides, Thomas placing his fingers and hands in the holes plays a significant and substantial role — Thomas provides a first-hand witness that Jesus is not a ghost, and He had been really and truly dead. Thomas also provides the necessary witness that Jesus forever carries with Him the wounds of the Passion.

    If we ask why Thomas said that he would not believe, perhaps we must also ask why Jesus appeared in the first place to the Apostles when Thomas was absent? Why did Jesus choose that particular time to come? Presumably, He wanted Thomas to miss out; He wanted to place Thomas in the position of asking to see for himself so that Thomas could provide that hands-on witness that has since been given to us.

  3. GABRIEL says:

    When God speaks, as He sometimes does, His words are all that exists to the receiver.
    Nothing else matters.

    You will not remember what you were wearing that day. You will not know how to describe it.
    You will not remember what you did later that day, or that week for that matter.
    In some cases, you will not even remember what year it was. Or what your life was like before.

    There are limits to what the human mind can process simultaneously, and when something of that magnitude happens, the three dimentional physical universe seems from a human perspective not really designed to contain it.
    `
    When God speaks, the human brain is made painfully aware of its limitations.
    There are not enough cells in the brain to comprehend what is happening.
    There are not enough neurons to wrap your mind around it.

    It is like downloading the entire contents of the entire internet to your home computer in blink of an eye.

    But you will remember that He spoke.

    And when He does, suddenly you will understand the meaning of this:
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    All who has heard The Voice of God knows exactly what this means.

    • CS says:

      Preach it brother! Just had this yesterday… Absolutely thunderstruck with the Fear of God as he spoke directly to me and convicted me of my sins (you try reading Isaiah 57 after abandoning him and drinking deeply from the trough). Completely inexplicable, yet completely understandable. Oh what wondrous mercy, oh what brilliant grace, let us sing joyfully of our salvation and hope in the Lord who is Risen, truly Risen! Again, a Blessed Pascha to the Communion of Saints!

  4. Maggie Goff says:

    I have not read the post yet. I will, but wanted to comment on the video. It is beautiful and powerful. Thank you for putting it together. I shared it on facebook and in email already and you just uploaded it to youtube :) I was the first viewer and commenter there.

  5. MarkA says:

    Monsignor,
    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I was looking forward to it and you did not disappoint in any way. It was spiritually profitable for me this morning, and will continue to be every day I pray the glorious mysteries of the Rosary.
    Thank you for the beautiful video; it was tremendously moving. Your parish is truly blessed with you as their pastor and with Ms. Boursiquot and Mr. Louis.
    God bless you and, again, thank you.
    MarkA

  6. Dean M. Jackson says:

    What is never mentioned is why Pontius Pilate and the Jewish Elders of Jerusalem never had arrested and “interrogated” members of the Jesus Sect as to the disposition of Jesus’ body. Why is that? This question just entered my mind recently. The Roman and Jewish authorities in Judea would have been duty bound to arrest and interrogate, so why didn’t they?

    For Pontius Pilate, the answer to his inaction goes back three years to the early ministry of Jesus. In the Gospel of John Jesus spends an entire seven months in Pilate’s jurisdiction during His first year of ministry. Now Pilate was not a Roman pro-counsel who sat back and allowed events to overtake him. Pilate had an excellent network of agents who informed him of any possible trouble makers, especially if those possible troubles involved religion. So the question is, why did Pilate allow Jesus to wonder about for seven months within his jurisdiction, where Jesus was being quite conspicuous agitating and spreading His message?

    The only answer can be that Pilate naturally came to the conclusion, based on the reports from his agents that were monitoring Jesus, that Jesus was indeed a Jewish God. Remember, Romans believed not just in their gods, but had no barriers in believing in other people’s gods. This explains why Pilate is hesitant to condemn Jesus when Jesus is brought before him, and only condemns Jesus when backed into a corner by the Jewish Elders of Jerusalem. Now you know why Pilate refused to interrogate members of the Jesus Sect in order to locate Jesus’ body.

    So then, why didn’t the Jewish Elders arrest and interrogate members of the Jesus Sect in order to locate Jesus’ body, for they certainly didn’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah?

    Well, they didn’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah before Jesus was executed by the Romans, however they would soon change their minds on Jesus’ claims, as proven by their inaction to take proper policing actions to recoup Jesus’ body.

    You see, the Jewish Elders of Jerusalem also had agents monitoring Jesus and his followers, maybe even some of the same agents that were reporting to Pilate. The reason the Jewish Elders didn’t arrive at the same conclusion early on about Jesus’ true nature as Pilate did, is that they had one crushing handicap that clouded their objectivity: Rome. “What will Rome do if we proclaim Jesus the Messiah?” would have been in the backs of their minds. This crushing fear, when compounded by the fact that Pontius Pilate was a Roman Pro-Council not known to be distracted by Roman notions of mercy or nobleness, would have weighed heavily on their minds, leading them to condemn Jesus.

    In fact, it is likely that the Jewish Elders of Jerusalem did send out arrest warrants for members of the Jesus Sect, but the agents with the warrants returned with something else other than Jesus Sect members. What would that be? Fantastical accounts of watching the 2,000 eyewitnesses of the Jesus all interacting to and with an invisible presence: Jesus! The Jewish Elders who condemned Jesus would then have bowed their heads in despair and realized what they had done, which is why Jesus on the cross said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

    And now, you know the rest of the story!

  7. Dean M. Jackson says:

    Amended version:

    What is never mentioned is why Pontius Pilate and the Jewish Elders of Jerusalem never had arrested and “interrogated” members of the Jesus Sect as to the disposition of Jesus’ body. Why is that? This question just entered my mind recently. The Roman and Jewish authorities in Judea would have been duty bound to arrest and interrogate, so why didn’t they?

    For Pontius Pilate, the answer to his inaction goes back three years to the early ministry of Jesus. In the Gospel of John Jesus spends an entire seven months in Pilate’s jurisdiction during His first year of ministry. Now Pilate was not a Roman proconsul who sat back and allowed events to overtake him. Pilate had an excellent network of agents who informed him of any possible trouble makers, especially if those possible troubles involved religion. So the question is, why did Pilate allow Jesus to wonder about for seven months within his jurisdiction, where Jesus was being quite conspicuous agitating and spreading His message?

    The only answer can be that Pilate naturally came to the conclusion, based on the reports from his agents that were monitoring Jesus, that Jesus was indeed a Jewish God. Remember, Romans believed not just in their gods, but had no barriers in believing in other people’s gods. This explains why Pilate is hesitant to condemn Jesus when Jesus is brought before him, and only condemns Jesus when backed into a corner by the Jewish Elders of Jerusalem. Now you know why Pilate refused to interrogate members of the Jesus Sect in order to locate Jesus’ body.

    So then, why didn’t the Jewish Elders arrest and interrogate members of the Jesus Sect in order to locate Jesus’ body, for they certainly didn’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah?

    Well, they didn’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah before Jesus was executed by the Romans, however they would soon change their minds on Jesus’ claims, as proven by their inaction to take proper policing actions to recoup Jesus’ body.

    You see, the Jewish Elders of Jerusalem also had agents monitoring Jesus and his followers, maybe even some of the same agents that were reporting to Pilate. The reason the Jewish Elders didn’t arrive at the same conclusion early on about Jesus’ true nature as Pilate did, is that they had one crushing handicap that clouded their objectivity: Rome. “What will Rome do if we proclaim Jesus the Messiah?” would have been in the backs of their minds. This crushing fear, when compounded by the fact that Pontius Pilate was a Roman proconsul not known to be distracted by Roman notions of mercy or nobleness, would have weighed heavily on their minds, leading them to condemn Jesus.

    In fact, the Jewish Elders of Jerusalem did send out arrest warrants for members of the Jesus Sect, but the agents with the warrants returned with something else other than Jesus Sect members. What would that be? Fantastical accounts of watching the 2,000 members of the Jesus Sect (Paul mentions 500 eyewitnesses to seeing Jesus alive after His Roman execution, but Jewish custom of the day only counted adult males) all interacting with an invisible presence: Jesus! The Jewish Elders who condemned Jesus would then have bowed their heads in despair and realized what they had done, which is why Jesus on the cross said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

  8. Patty says:

    As to why the towel was folded I do not presume to know the answer. About 10 years ago I read ‘The Carpenter’s Cloth’ by Sigmund Brouwer as part of a bible lesson and was moved to tears as he writes…

    “Imagine a hot afternoon in Galilee. Jesus has completed the final pieces of a job he has worked on for several days. He takes a final-and welcome-drink of cool water from a leather bag. Then, standing to the side of his work, he pours water over his face and chest, splashing it over his arms to clean himself before his journey home. With a nearby towel, he pats his face and arms dry. Finally, Jesus folds the towel neatly in half, and then folds it in half again. He sets it on the finished work and walks away. Later, whoever arrives to inspect the work will see the towel and understand its simple message.

    Christs’ disciples of course knew this carpenter’s tradition. On a Sunday of sorrow, three years after Jesus had set aside his carpenter tools, Peter will crouch to look into an empty tomb and see only the linens the risen Lord has left behind.

    A smile will cross Peter’s face as his sorrow is replaced by hope, for he will see the wrap that had covered Jesus’ face. It has been folded in half, then folded in half again and left neatly on the floor of the tomb.

    Peter understands. The carpenter has left behind a simple message. “It is finished.”

    I reread this book every Easter and his final three words have stayed with me…”It is finished.”

  9. [...] Nicely done here. When we encounter the resurrection accounts in the New Testament we face a challenge  in putting all the pieces together in a way that the sequence of the events flow in logical order. This is due to the fact that no one Gospel presents all, or even most of the data. Some of the data also seems to conflict. I tried to show in yesterday’s blog that these apparent conflicts are not, usually, true conflicts. Another problem with putting all the facts together in a coherent and reasonably complete manner is that the time line of the events is often unclear in some of the accounts. Luke and John are the clearest as to the time frame of the events they describe but Matthew and Luke give us very few parameters. Both Acts and Paul also supply data wherein the time frame is not always clear. [...]

  10. RichardC says:

    To remember something, we compose our memory from our store of images. To imagine something, we get our images from the store of our memories. That is why, as I understand, that the memory/imagination is considered one faculty of the soul. One problem with modern history is that it makes the past appear more matter of fact than we can ever reconstruct it.

    Excellent compilation of biblical data, Monsignor Pope–or should I say Monsignor Sherlock Holmes?!!

  11. Juanito A. Vargas says:

    Rev. Msgr.

    I had also tried to synchronize the passion and resurrection events found in the four gospels. I used Microsoft Word, made a table with four columns, cut and pasted the text by following an old NAB translation with text references. Once I had pasted the texts on the Word program, I made a little more adjustments to synchronize the texts.

    Here is what I had done. You can find it in our parish website. It is on the right panel at the top of the right panel. When the test opens up, you can get a larger font by clicking the print icon, and then click cancel.

    That’s what I did in Lent.

    Here’s the link: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0ByoZNFhneOX3cGZhU1lJS21UUUM1OWZwOW1hNUNZdw/edit?pli=1#

    What do you think of this synchronization?

    Juanito Vargas

  12. Deacon Lou Koeniger says:

    Msgr, I suggest one (non-biblucal) addition to your sequence of events: Step 0: Jesus goes to His Mother and tells Her everything is just fine.

  13. Sasha K says:

    Msgr, the video is very beautiful, are the lyrics available online anywhere? Thank you for sharing.

    • When they turned away from God, you loved them
      When they struck you with the rod, you loved them
      And when they led you out to die and they shouted crucify,
      When there was no reason why, You loved them.

      When we nailed you to the cross, you loved us,
      When you knew what it would cost, you loved us
      And when you bled and took our place
      And repaid our sin with grace
      When God turned away his face, you loved us.

      When you bring my spirit health, you love me.
      When I cannot love myself, you love me.
      And when I doubt that you’re the Son
      of that victory is won.
      And forget what you have done
      you Love me

  14. Christopher Ruhm says:

    I believe Appearances number 3 & 4 should be reversed. Two disciples on road to Emmaus reported to the eleven that the Lord had already appeared to Peter corroborated by 1 Cor 15:5 … Peter then the twelve…

  15. jeanne mcginley says:

    Monsignor Pope: You never cease to surprise me with your narratives, deepen my faith, and answer the mind boggling questions I have about events in the bible. You have the ability to teach us less educated folks and still reach out to the graduates, Phd.s, and clergy without using language that loses us completely I hope, but satisfies their level of reasoning. At times you bring me to tears with your sensitive portrayals of events. Thank you for what you do and continued success doing it. Sherlock of data but also Master DJ for the music you find. Ah the 70’s. Thanks again!

  16. shari says:

    I love the chronology (which seems convincing).

    I do have one, off topic question. Why does Jesus tell Mary not to touch him because he had “not yet ascended to [His] Father?” Yet a week later after he says that he had “come from His Father” he tells Thomas to put his fingers in his wound?

    One speculation that I am playing with is that He didn’t want to burn her. All the manifestations of the Holy Spirit have been light without heat (an impossibility under the laws of matter and energy) – The flames rising from the apostles heads, the burning bush that was not consumed. Yet the Shroud of Turin bears what appear to be the image of a crucified man that appears to have been practically lazared on, the image apparently being “scorch marks.”

    Jesus, before ascending may still have been physical and subject to the laws of physics. After descending He apparently was something very much more.

  17. shari says:

    Actually I just reread your awesome synthesis of the various gospel accounts. (Did your really put it together just in Lent?) Since the women held onto his feet, they could not have been in danger of being burned. He must have simply have been admonishing them to go tell the Apostles, while he hurried up to his Father.

    I absolutely love the way you synthesized all that. Really, really helpful.

  18. Kevin O'Brien says:

    What of Paul meeting Jesus on the Road to Damascus, long after Our Lord’s Ascension? Is this a vision or a physical appearance of the resurrected Christ?

  19. James says:

    Msgr.,

    John journeyed to Galilee with the others. He was lakeside at the charcoal fire sharing a fish. But days earlier he had been charged with protecting the Blessed Virgin. If the Apostles trekked several days to go from Jeruslam to Galilee, did they take her with them, only to take her back again to Jerusalem? To expect a bereaved mother to make that round trip in John’s company, or to expect John to travel alone without her, seems at odds with John’s duty to provide hospitality.

  20. Gregory(UK) says:

    Perhaps pedantry – but a point I always feel worth noting in heart-burning discussions like these.

    The default always seems to be that the Gospel accounts are in agreement that angels were at the tomb. Not so. Mark and Luke only refer to a man/men. I’m always intrigued as to why they feel they couldn’t take the extra narrative leap to emphatically state that the figures weren’t just “men” but were in fact “angels”. What stayed their pens? You can just imagine the type of frenzied “so who, what, when, how?” discussions that occurred within the group(s) on that first day.

    Certainly we can seem to be sure of two things: that whether they were “angels” or “men”, the figures or beings that were encountered at the tomb presented themselves in representation of the male form (Matthew refers to “his countenance”, “his raiment” and that the guards became as dead men for fear “of him”); and that the appearance of these “men” or “angels” was of an extraordinary sit-up-and-take-notice nature.

    I had once wondered that maybe Mark’s “man” sitting alone in the tomb may well have been Adam not an angel (for we know that many of the dead left their tombs; and I love the traditional story of Jesus going into Hades in search of Adam…that first encounter between the two of them fills my eyes with tears each time I think of the sheer joy of such an embrace…and it would be wonderful to think that it was the First Adam sitting sentry in the empty tomb giving witness to the world, this time making no error or fall, about the triumph of the Second Adam: I like the book-ended neat package of that fantasy). However, the wonderful teaching over at the New Theological Movement blogspot convinced me a while back to err on the side of Mark’s figure being an angel and not Adam and I guess they’re right.

    But if nothing else, the debate about whether they were “angels” or “men” certainly adds an extra element against those dissenters who determinedly continue to agitate for “women priests” on the basis that Our Risen Lord first presented himself to the women disciples. It’s tiresome getting dragged into that juvenile debate on such flimsy grounds but whenever it does arise (and it will, again and again, I have no doubt), it’s always good to be able to reply “well, things aren’t quite as cut and dried as you make out”.

    Monsignor, just to add: your blog is getting even better and better. The help it gives to my faith is immeasurable. Thank-you. Prayers always for you.

  21. Peter Ford says:

    But it says in John that Mary Magdelene came “when it was still dark,” BEFORE dawn. In contrast, the group of women (in which she also was) came “early in the morning, just after dawn.” So she came 2x, the first time alone. By the way, have you read Augustine or the other Fathers on this? They dealt with the problem of the chronology. E.g. Augustine’s book “Harmony of the Gospels” and also his sermons walk through the chronology.

    • Haany says:

      Todd, once again a great teaching blog. Jesus knew what his aedgna was yet, faithfully, lovingly and calmly went about changing the lives of others. He KNEW what was in store for him, yet, never fretted or worried about the inevitable act of self and sacrifice he had to endure for US. Because of his horrendous death on a cross, he absorbed our sins so we may experience eternity in Heaven with Him. Thank You for having an affect on all of us who read your blog. You are our teacher and we know that God is with you every step of the way=-)

  22. [...] his blog, Msgr. Charles Pope presents an interesting chronology of Easter: from the discovery of the empty tomb to the Ascension, Msgr. Pope takes the descriptions of events [...]

  23. hvac says:

    I live in Augusta, Georgia.

  24. Marian Barnes says:

    What about the appearance to Peter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:5 and Luke 24:34? When would this have taken place?

  25. Person in need of Understanding says:

    In comparison to each other, when did the Great Commission and Ascension happen? Were they the same appearance? Did the Commission happen, and then did the Ascension happen right after?

  26. Mike F. says:

    I think you’ve done a great job with the chronology. The main difficulty I see, though, is that it doesn’t seem to quite mesh with Matthew’s account. In Matthew 28:1, he mentions Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as the women who come to see the tomb. We know from Luke’s account that there were several other women as well, but Matthew does not mention them. I do not see this as a difficulty (Matthew, of course, didn’t need to mention all the women). But what I do see as a difficulty is that Matthew says in 28:5 that the angel spoke to the women, and the only reasonable reading of Matthew is that he’s at least talking about both of the Mary’s (i.e. including Magdalene) and possibly others. The fact that Matthew doesn’t mention other women means that he is at least implying that the angel appeared to both of the Mary’s. Then Jesus appeared to these women (who, again, must have at least included both of these Mary’s). However, this doesn’t seem to work with your chronology. The problem is not so much with your chronology as with the fact that John’s account of Jesus’ encounter with Mary Magdalene is very hard to reconcile with Matthew’s account (as well as Luke’s). I’ve been struggling to reconcile the various accounts, and I have come to a chronology of my own that is almost exactly like yours, but I still am having trouble with understanding the appearance(s) to Mary Magdalene.

    I should mention, however, that the four gospels are quite convincing in their overall agreement on the basic facts. ALL four gospels mention ALL of the following facts:

    (1) it was on the first day of the week, and early
    (2) women visit the tomb (all mention Mary Magdalene, specifically)
    (3) the stone was removed (rolled away)
    (4) the tomb was empty
    (5) there were angels (or men in white clothing)
    (6) women tell the disciples
    (7) some disciples do not believe
    (8) Jesus himself appears to Mary Magdalene (ok, Luke doesn’t mention this but the other three do)
    (9) Jesus appears to all the disciples

  27. Joseph Dunning says:

    I believe the appearance to the 500 probably occurred on the 2nd Sunday at the same time Jesus presented Himself to Thomas. It was like a Church outreach service!

  28. Christina Ennabe says:

    I would like to explain why the head napkin was left folded because as a Jewish custome when the family sit down to have dinner and the head of the family (the father) is done eating he leaves his napkin unfolded then he leaves the table means he is done, but if he needs to leave and he is not done, then before he leaves the table, he foldes the napkins as a sign that he will be back to finish his food… so Jesus used this custome to explain to all that He is not there any more but He is not done because He will be back!!!

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