Let’s take a look at the four Resurrection Stories in the four Gospels in parallel (side-by-side).
Who came to the Tomb that Sunday morning:
Mark: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome
Matthew: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
Luke: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and other women
John: Mary Magdalene
At what time did the Women set out/arrive at the Tomb:
Mark: They went to the tomb when the sun had risen.
Matthew: They went to see the tomb as the day was dawning.
Luke: They came to the tomb at early dawn.
John: Mary came to the tomb while it was still dark.
What was the position of the Stone when the Women arrived at the Tomb?
Mark: The stone had already been rolled back when they arrived.
Matthew: An angel rolls back the stone in the presence of the women and the guards and then sits on it.
Luke: The stone had already been rolled away when they arrived.
John: The stone had been removed from the tomb when Mary Magdalene arrived.
Who else was at the Tomb when the women arrive?
Mark: A young man, sitting inside the tomb, dressed in a white robe.
Matthew: Roman guards and an angel who descends from heaven, rolls back the stone, and sits on it. His appearance is like lightning, his clothing white as snow.
Luke: Two men suddenly appear next to the women inside the tomb. They are dressed in dazzling clothes.
John: No one! Not initially. Only after Mary Magdalene has reported the Empty Tomb to the disciples and the disciples have come to inspect the Empty Tomb and have found only the linen wrappings…and have then left…do we find Mary alone at the tomb again, but this time Mary looks into the tomb and sees two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.
Does any natural disaster accompany the rolling back of the stone?
Mark: none mentioned.
Matthew: a “great” earthquake.
Luke: none mentioned.
John: none mentioned.
What does the young man/angel/men/angels say to the women/Mary?
Mark: Don’t be alarmed. Jesus has been raised. Tell the disciples that they will see him in Galilee.
Matthew: Don’t be afraid. Jesus has been raised. Tell the disciples that they will see him in Galilee.
Luke: Jesus is not here. He is risen. Remember that he told you he would rise again on the third day. (Nothing about meeting Jesus in Galilee.)
John: Woman, why are you weeping? (That’s it!)
Does Jesus appear to the Women in the Garden, and if he does, what does he say to them?
(original) Mark: No. There are no post-resurrection appearances by Jesus to anyone!
Matthew: Yes. Jesus greets the women; allows them to touch him; and tells them to tell his “brothers’ to meet him in Galilee.
Luke: No. No appearances by Jesus to the women in the Garden.
John: Yes, but only to Mary Magdalene. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene after she has told the disciples about the Empty Tomb; after two of the disciples have come and inspected the tomb; and after she has been asked by two angels sitting inside the tomb why she is weeping. Jesus asks Mary the same question, “Why are you weeping? Whom are you looing for” Mary supposes Jesus to be the gardener and tells him that someone has taken the body of Jesus. Mary asks “the gardener” to tell her where the body is so that she can take it. Jesus says her name and Mary recognizes that “the gardener” is Jesus himself. Jesus orders her not to touch him because he hasn’t ascended to the Father yet. (But Matthew’s Jesus lets the women touch him. Strange!)
When is Mary Magdalene informed that Jesus has been Resurrected? Before she runs and tells the Disciples that the Tomb is empty or after?
Where, to Whom, and When, does Jesus first Appear to his Male Disciples:
(original) Mark: No appearances mentioned.
Matthew: On a mountain in Galilee, a mountain Jesus had instructed them in advance on which to meet him. To the Eleven. We are not told when.
Luke: The Road to Emmaus. Jesus appears to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus, one of them is named Cleopas. Jesus then appears to the “Eleven” in Jerusalem. Both of these appearances occurred on the same day as the Resurrection.
John: Where: in “the house where the disciples had met”; Jesus appears to “the disciples” but Thomas is not present (so if all the other members of the original Twelve, minus Judas Iscariot, were present, that would be ten of the original disciples, not eleven as Luke claims); When: the same day as the Resurrection.
How does each Gospel end?
(original) Mark: The women run away from the Empty Tomb in great fear and tell NO ONE.
Matthew: Jesus gives the Great Commission to the disciples on a mountain in Galilee. No mention of an Ascension.
Luke: Jesus tells the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they have been clothed with the power from on high (Pentecost?), takes them out to Bethany, lifts up his hands, blesses them, and is carried up into heaven.
John: If you believe that chapter 20 is the true ending of the Gospel of John then this Gospels ends with Thomas poking his fingers in Jesus wounds and Jesus making the statement, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” If you believe that the Gospel of John ends with chapter 21, then this Gospel ends with Jesus cooking a fish breakfast for a group of the disciples along the shores of the Sea of Tiberius. No mention of an Ascension.
Discussion: Isn’t it obvious, folks? Just as the consensus of modern New Testament scholarship tells us, these accounts weren’t written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses! They are tall tales. As each writer wrote his story, he added new embellishments to a previous version of this tale. For all we know, the first Gospel author, Mark, invented the Empty Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Notice that the original version of the Gospel of Mark had no post-death appearance stories. So isn’t it probable that a decade or so later, the authors of Matthew and Luke invented their post-death appearance stories, adding them to “Mark’s” invented Tomb story? Matthew invented his appearances in Galilee and Luke invented his appearances in Jerusalem and the surrounding regions of Judea (Emmaus and Bethany). Then near the close of the first century, the author of the Gospel of John invented an entirely new version of the story, based on the boiler plate version he probably grew up hearing in church.
Yes, Jesus existed. Yes, Jesus was crucified. Yes, Jesus was probably buried somewhere. But the Resurrection stories (plural!) are tall tales. They are not historical. They are legends. They are fiction! Reading the four resurrection stories in parallel is obvious proof.