Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who did the women see at the tomb: a seated angel, a young man sitting, two men standing or two angels sitting?

This question reminds me of those lateral thinking problems: “A man and his son are in a car crash. The father is killed and the child is taken to hospital gravely injured. When he gets there, the surgeon says, 'I can't operate on this boy - for he is my son!!!' How can this possibly be?”

Some evidence has been withheld behind the question, so the problem appears to be more difficult than it really is; for example: Matthew 28:2-5 describes at least one angel who seemed to be the one responsible for rolling the stone, as witnessed by the guards, not the women. “And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.”

When the women arrive, there is no mention that they see the one who sat on the stone. We do know they see at least one sitting inside the tomb (Luke 24:1-4, Mark 16:5) sitting opposite another angel (John 20:12). When the women enter, at least one of the angels speaks. “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified’” (Matthew 28:5).

Are they angels or are they men? Clearly the two men were angels and if there were two in the sepulcher, then there was at least one. The angel who rolled the stone still could have been sitting on the stone, which would bring the grand total to three angels (though the gospel writers make no mention of him remaining there). The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

The most important and most glaring fact remains undisputed:
  • He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come; see the place where He was lying.” (Matthew 28:6)
  • Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” (Mark 16:5)
  • Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen.” (Luke 24:5-6)
  • Cheer up, weepy! Here I am! (John 20)
Oh, before I forget: the surgeon was the child’s mother.

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