'Contradictions' in Accounts of Jesus' Resurrection Actually Prove It Really Happened

When you read the four Gospels it becomes clear that they do not have rigid agreement on all the details of the resurrection of Christ (or several other stories for that matter). Plenty of critics use that as ammunition to cast doubts on the Bible. However, these differences in detail actually speak well for the authenticity and historicity of the text. For example, because there are different details, we know that there was no collusion between the authors. We would expect these seeming discrepancies if we are reading multiple eyewitness accounts.

Also, notice that no one really looks good in these stories (except Jesus). All of the disciples are in shock and awe at the resurrection. It takes them ALL by surprise! Normally we would expect the disciples to paint themselves in a better light. And look at some of the little "twists" in the narrative. Who are the first witnesses and evangelists? The women! Women's testimony was not even admissible in court in the first century. And a lady like Mary Magdalene was formerly demon-possessed (Luke 8:2)! Hardly the kind of witness we would put in the story if we were writing it back then.

All that being said, here is a workable timeline, presenting the harmony of the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus:

Early in the Morning on Sunday

Jesus rises from the dead in the earliest hours of Sunday (Matthew 28:2). An earthquake and an angel roll back a stone to let the disciples in to see the evidence.

As dawn was breaking, several women (Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James) come to the tomb. They see the stone rolled back. Mary Magdalene runs away to tell Peter and John (John 20:1-2) while the other ladies stay at the tomb.

The other women go into the tomb and see an angel who tells them that Jesus is not here; He is risen (Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7). Matthew and Mark say there is an angel. Luke 24 says there were two angels. Contradiction? No. Matthew and Mark do not say there is only one. They merely focus on what one is saying. Luke gives us more detail that there were two angels present.