You must know the three things

Published 5:20 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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By R.A. Tea Mathews

This Easter may find you happy or heartbroken. If you’re facing illness, grief, financial struggle, marital strain, problems with children, know this: Jesus gives us three things.

His life and teachings. His death on the Cross. And one more.  

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Think for a moment and write what that is: _________________ . 

 All Christians celebrate Easter, but do they recall the events of that day? Does the story start:

  1. At dawn.
  2. At sunrise.
  3. While it’s still dark.
  4. All of the above.

Lock in your answer. Here’s the Scripture: 

“…as it began to dawn … Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb.” (Matthew 28:1)

“…Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome … came to the tomb when the sun had risen.” (Mark 16:1-2)

“…at early dawn, they came to the tomb…” (Luke 24:1)

“…Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark…” (John 20:1)

But how can that be right? Can it be dawn, sunrise, and dark, all at the same time? 

There’s a photo of a beautiful sunrise in Jerusalem that depicts a small ball of bright light edging over the dark Judean mountains, proving that in Jerusalem it can still be dark at dawn and after sunrise. 

The correct answer is No. 4.

The Gospel writers also tell us who went to the tomb: John says Mary Magdalene; Matthew adds another Mary; Mark adds Salome to the first two; and Luke says it was a group: “…Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them…” (Luke 24:10)

Can all four be right? Absolutely.

John knew to write carefully.

The Gospels then say the women arrived to find the tomb open. How was the stone rolled away?

  1. By an angel.
  2. By an earthquake.
  3. By the Roman guards.
  4. Scripture doesn’t say.

Lock in your answer. Here’s the passage:

“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.” (Matthew 28:2) 

The answer seems to be No. 1.  

When Mary Magdalene discovered that Jesus wasn’t there, what happened next?

  1. Jesus appeared to her.
  2. Mary ran and told Peter and John.
  3. The guards threatened Mary to keep quiet.
  4. None of the above.

Lock in your answer. Here’s the passage:

“Mary Magdalene … saw the stone already removed from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and (John).” The two disciples raced to the tomb, found it empty, and believed. (John 20:1-9) 

The correct answer is No. 2.

But Mary went back to the tomb and stood there, weeping. Two angels asked why she was upset, and Mary said she didn’t know where to find Jesus’ body. Our Lord then revealed Himself to her. 

This is the first appearance of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Mary thinks He’s the gardener, until Jesus does what?

  1. Says her name.
  2. Steps out of the shadows.
  3. Unwraps the linen from His face.
  4. None of the above.

Consider your choices. Here’s the passage:

“… Thinking that He was the gardener, (Mary) said to Him, ‘… tell me where you put Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’” (John 20:15-16)

The correct answer is No. 1.

I think that’s so beautiful.

What happened next?

  1. Jesus ascended to heaven.
  2. Jesus told Mary not to touch Him.
  3. Jesus wept.
  4. None of the above.

Lock in your answer.

In the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the most faithful translation, Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me.” (John 20:17) 

The correct answer is No. 4. 

He didn’t say, “Don’t touch me,” as is indicated by lesser translations.

Jesus was alive and Mary had wrapped her arms around Him, unable to let go. She was clinging to Him. Jesus knew she was devoted and most likely spoke tenderly, saying,  “Stop clinging to me.” Jesus still had to ascend to Heaven. 

Remember what I asked you in the beginning? Jesus gives us three things: His life and teachings in Scripture; His death on the Cross; and one more.  

If you answered that Jesus stepped from the tomb, that’s correct. Jesus is alive!

You are not alone in your sorrow, your pain, your struggle, your fear. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Turn to Him. Easter celebrates His Resurrection. 

The Rev. Mathews, BA, MDiv, JD, is a faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at to join her 1-Minute Bible Study.

Copyright © 2023 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.