It’s different in each of the Gospels. In Luke, Mary Magdalene and a group of at least four other women go to the tomb, enter it, and meet two angels, but no Jesus. In Matthew, two women, Mary Magdalene and another Mary, go to the tomb, experience an earthquake and meet a single angel sitting on the stone that used to seal the tomb, who invites them to go in and have a look. Then they meet Jesus on the way back. In Mark, three women reach the empty tomb, enter and find a single angel sitting at one end, and run away, terrified. In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene goes alone, finds the tomb empty, runs to tell Simon Peter and John, returns behind them, and after they’ve gone, the angels turn up and she then meets Jesus, mistaking him for the Gardener.
The utter confusion of what actually happened is the most compelling evidence that it actually did. How could it be any other way? Who remembers the details? Who was there? What was the order of events that morning? How many angels? Were there angels? The stone was rolled away! The tomb was empty! It was THE LORD!!! Nothing else matters. He is risen! Shock. Disbelief. No. It cannot be. It’s impossible. Yes, I know he said it, but he didn’t mean this. Did he?
The trees in the painting begin to move in the wind. Clothes on the static figures ripple in the breeze. Colours start to shift and change, as the painting comes to life, like the picture on the wall in chapter one of CS Lewis’ ‘Voyage of the Dawntreader.’ We are treading a new dawn into a new world. This is the 8th Day. The painter has arisen.
A young man develops paralysis that spreads from his feet, progressively moving upwards through his body, which weakens daily, causing him to struggle to breathe, until he is completely paralysed, able to move only his mouth. Sounds like Guillain-Barré syndrome, and in extreme cases patients need ventilation. After a few weeks or months patients usually start a gradual improvement, and within a year most people have fully recovered.
In this case, however, Cuthbert’s shoes are taken from his coffin and placed on the lad’s feet. His breathing instantly improves and he falls into a calm sleep. Those keeping watch over him that night observe the healing taking place, noticing first one, and then the other leg twitching. By the time of Lauds, in the early hours of the morning, he had regained sufficient strength to join the brethren in the chapel, standing for the whole service. This is no ordinary recovery. Extraordinary.