It is not easy to harmonize into a connected story the fragmentary records of the four gospels about the resurrection of Jesus. In a few sentences there are generalizations of many details. We are not told all the incidents in the precise order of their occurrence.
Let it be remembered that there were different groups of disciples, lodging at various places, going to the tomb in different companies, and that they were not expecting Jesus to rise, but were visiting the tomb to complete the embalming of his body for permanent burial.
The first sight of the empty tomb, and the angel announcement that Jesus had risen, threw them into wild excitement.
They ran to tell the others, hurrying back and forth in alternate joy, fear, anxiety, wonder, and bewilderment.
Many things happened that are not recorded. Of what is recorded, one writer tells one thing; another, another thing. One gives in a sentence what another describes in detail. Some, in a general statement, cover various incidents. No one give a complete account.
There are a number of ways in which the accounts may be harmonized. The following, only provisional, is generally accepted.
1. At the first break of dawn, two or more groups of women, from their abodes in Jerusalem or Bethany, probably a mile or two distant, start groping their way toward the tomb
2. It was probably about that time that Jesus was emerging from the tomb, accompanied by angels who rolled away the stone and neatly folded the shroud
3. The guards, meantime, frightened and dazed, fled to tell the priests who had placed them there.
4. About sunrise, as the women approach the tomb, Mary Magdalene, ahead of her group, seeing the tomb empty, but not seeing the angel, nor hearing his announcement that Jesus had risen, turns and runs to tell Peter and John.
5. The other women draw near. See and hear the angels. Hurry away, by another route, to tell the main group of disciples.
6. By this time, Peter and John reach the tomb. Go in. See the empty shroud. Depart, John believing, Peter wondering.
7. Mary Magdalene, meantime, following hard after Peter and John, returns to the tomb, and remains, alone, weeping. Then she sees the angels. And Jesus himself appears to her.
8. Shortly thereafter, Jesus appears to the other women, as they were on their way to tell the disciples, or, as, having told the disciples, they were returning to the tomb.
This all happened in probably less than an hour’s time.