A Timeline of the Resurrection

How well do you know the events that occur on the Resurrection Day?  Can you explain the events in order after the resurrection?  If you are like most believers, you cannot.  I was with you.  I could not explain any sort of timeline of the events after the resurrection of Jesus.  While in Peru, a buddy of mine and I sat down and studied it out, creating a timeline of the events at the resurrection of Jesus.

The problem is, that there are 4 different accounts that tell of different things.  If not studied out, this is seemingly contradictory.  One account speaks of one angel while another speaks of two.  One says that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first where as another portrays that Jesus appeared to several women (including Mary Magdalene) first.  One account speaks of John and Peter running to the empty tomb whereas another speaks of just Peter.  This does all seem contradictory, but, I believe that God is all-powerful, and has kept His word preserved.  I believe that there are no contradictions in the Bible.  With this in mind, I give you a timeline of the resurrection.  I encourage you to go through this with a critical eye.  Look at it, and then go to the Bible yourself and see if you come up with the same timeline.  It is so exciting when the Holy Spirit illuminates the Scriptures.  I believe that this timeline is accurate.  But please, don’t just trust me, read this, and take it to the Bible and study it out yourself.  I am not giving a complete timeline, just the events that happened that Sunday, when Jesus was resurrected.

Read each of the accounts below.  From that, try to put the pieces of this puzzle together.  Let me say that with all these seemingly contradictory passages, there is one event, one piece of the puzzle that is key to unlocking the resurrection timeline.  I will highlight that key in a moment.  The account of the resurrection is found in all four Gospel accounts.  The passages are…

  • Matthew 28:1-10
  • Mark 16:1-13
  • Luke 24:1-40
  • John 20:1-19

Now, here is the timeline.  I will try to give some sort of Scripture reference for each point in the timeline.

The Resurrection Sunday Timeline

  • Mary Magdalene, Mary (another Mary), Joanna, and other women went to the tomb, in order to anoint the dead body of Jesus. (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:10)
  • A great earthquake takes place and the stone that sealed the tomb is rolled away.  An angel comes down and sits upon that rock.  (Matthew 28:2)
  • Mary Magdalene sees that the tomb is empty (does not see the angel) and then runs to tell Peter and John that someone(s) has taken the body of Jesus.  –  This is the key puzzle piece that unlocks this timeline!  (John 20:1-2)
  • As Mary Magdalene ran to tell Peter and John of the “robbery” of Jesus’ body, the angel speaks to the women who were still at the tomb and tells them that Jesus had risen from the grave.  He told them to come and see where the body did lay and to go and tell Jesus’ disciples the good news.  (Matthew 28:5-7)
  • Mary finds Peter and John and tells them the “bad news” of the robbery (which was not a robbery), and all three (Mary, Peter, and John) quickly go to the tomb (John gets there first, then Peter and Mary).  (John 20:3-8)
  • John and Peter see that the body is not there and they believe that the body was taken.  They leave and go back home, but Mary stays behind.  (John 20:8-11)
  • Mary Magdalene stoops down, looks into the tomb and sees two angels, turns around and sees Jesus, but supposes He was the gardner.  This is the first appearance of Jesus to a human after the resurrection.  Jesus tells her to go tell His disciples that He had risen.  (Mark 16:9, John 20:11-17)
  • While all this was going on, remember, the other women were on route to find and tell the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead.  (Matthew 28:8)
  • Now, it must have been at this point that Jesus ascended unto God the Father, because when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, He told her that she could not touch Him, because He had not yet ascended to His Father.  This must have happened at this point because of what happens next…
  • As the other women are trying to find the disciples to tell them the good news, Jesus appears to them.  You will notice that they held Him at His feet and they worship Him.  With Mary, Jesus would not let her touch Him because He had not yet ascended to His Father, but with these women, they did hold His feet.  That is why we place the initial ascension to the Father just before this event.  After this, the women continue to reach the disciples to give them the, even better news!  (Matthew 8-10)
  • Somewhere along the way to tell the disciples the great news, Mary Magdalene meets up with these women and they go and tell Peter and the disciples the great news.  (Luke 16:9-11, John 20:18)
  • With this news, Peter, by himself, went back to the tomb and saw that the body was still gone, and that the linen clothes were still there.  He left wondering in himself if all of this was really true.  (Luke 24:12)
  • From this, Jesus appears to the two who were walking to Emmaus (one of them was named Cleopas).  Jesus after much conversation reveals Himself to them.  They go all the way back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples the great news.  (Mark 16:12, Luke 24:13-32)
  • The two get back to Jerusalem, and tell the disciples who refused to believe.  (Mark 16:13, Luke 24:34-35)
  • As these two were telling of there time with the resurrected Christ, Jesus appears to the disciples for the first time.  (Luke 24:36-40, John 20:19-23)

This concludes the first day (Sunday) of the resurrection.


  • The key to this timeline is that Mary Magdalene was with the other women to anoint the dead body of Jesus, but when the earthquake happened, she looked in the tomb, saw the body was gone, supposed it to have been stolen, and ran to tell Peter and John.  By this happening, Jesus appeared first to Mary, than to the other women.  By this happening, Mary told Peter and John that the body was stolen, not hearing the angel tell the other women that He was risen.  This is the key piece to the Resurrection Sunday puzzle.
  • After Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, ascended quickly to the Father, and appeared to the other women; Mary Magdalene met back up with the other women while in pursuit of the disciples to tell them the great news!
  • I read after one man, who places the earthquake of Matthew 28:1 on Saturday night at Sundown, as the moon was “dawning”, or coming up.  This, I cannot confirm.  But remember, the Jewish day ended at sundown, making the Sabbath officially end on Saturday at that time.
  • The same man believes that the earthquake happened at the exact moment that Jesus arose.  Remember, there was an earthquake at the moment of Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:51).  It would make sense that at the exact moment that Jesus “revived”, that another earthquake happened.  Although, this is not something plainly stated, I believe it to be true.
  • Matthew 28:2 tells us that the angel (that spoke with the women, minus Mary Magdalene) was sitting upon the stone that once sealed the tomb, while Mark 16:5 tells us that the angel (young man) was in the tomb.  I believe this to be the same angel who was on the rock, then got off and went into the tomb.

So there you have it.  This was a great study and is the first time I have ever had a clear understanding of the Resurrection day.  I know this is a lot, but as a believer, I think it is worth your time to take and study out yourself.  Please feel free to comment.  I welcome any discussion/dispute or answer any questions you may have.

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