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In Matthew 28:1, 5-6, 8, an angelic message brought joy to Mary Magdalene by informing her that Jesus rose (NKJV, emphasis added):

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. [...] But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” [...] So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

In John's account, however, Mary Magdalene's joy of knowing her Savior was risen does not appear to come from angels. Instead, it wasn't until Jesus Himself spoke with her that she had the joy of knowing He still lived (John 1:11-16, NKJV, emphasis added):

But Mary [revealed in verse 1 to be "Mary Magdalene"] stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

Notice that even after the angels speak with her, she is still trying to find the body of Jesus and asks the "gardener" where the body may be. It isn't until the "gardener" says her name that she realized it was Jesus.

Who first persuaded Mary Magdalene that Jesus was risen, Jesus or one of the angels? How can the accounts be reconciled?

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The usual explanation for this is simple:

  • Matthew did not record the part of the story about Mary meeting Jesus personally
  • John did not record the part of the story about Mary speaking to the angels

Thus we may reconstruct the sequence of events something like this:

  • Mary went to the empty tomb,
  • found the tomb empty,
  • the angels told Mary that Jesus had risen
  • Mary found the angel's statement incredible,
  • Mary then met Jesus but mistook Him for the gardener
  • Mary recognizes Jesus
  • Mary returns with great Joy to tell the other disciples

This agrees with both accounts

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