11 Mary stood weeping at the tomb, and as she wept she stooped, peering into the tomb,
12 and she saw two angels in white sitting there, one was at the head and one was at the feet of where the body of Jesus had been laid.
13 And they said (say) to her: “Lady, why are you crying?” And she said (say) to them: “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid Him”.
Mary gets closer to the tomb and as she does she sees two angels inside the tomb. John records that there were two angels, as does Luke, but Matthew and Mark record just one angel appearing to all the women.
How are we to reconcile the differences?
We know that Mary had left the tomb to go and tell Peter and John (the beloved disciple). Perhaps we can assume that the other women had also left the tomb at the same time.
We also know that Peter and John had left the tomb, returning to where they were staying.
If we take a look at the sequence of events described in all four gospels it is possible that:
- an angel or two appears to the women
- Mary goes to tell Peter and John
- the other women leave the tomb
- Peter and John arrive at the tomb
- they go back to where they are staying
- Mary arrives back at the tomb where two angels appear to her.
Of course we cannot be sure of this, but it does offer an explanation for the sequence of events on that great history changing morning.
Mary was very upset, not only because Her Lord and Master had been killed three days earlier, but because it appeared that someone had either stolen His body, or had removed it to another location without telling her.
Some may claim that Mary could have made the mistake of thinking she was seeing two angels because of the tears she was shedding. However, such an assumption can only be made to try and discredit the possibility of angelic appearances occurring.
The Scriptures have many accounts of angels appearing to mankind, and throughout the centuries there have been many who have been visited by angels. Such angelic appearances still occur, and we should not doubt them, but rather rejoice that God is pleased to bless people with the visit of His divine messengers.