When and where did the resurrected Jesus first appear?

The Bible offers conflicting answers.

This Easter, a great many sermons will focus on the risen Jesus meeting Mary Magdalene in the garden. It’s a profoundly moving tale that has inspired artists and authors through the centuries.

Mary’s story, however, is not the church’s earliest canonical account of Jesus’ first resurrection appearance. The story of Mary Magdalene being the first to encounter the risen Christ arises later than another account in the New Testament tradition.

So if not in the garden with Mary on the third day, when and where did the supposed events occur? Christians believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day—but this does not necessarily mean that the first resurrection appearance happened that day. Two key words suggest a quite different interpretation in the early church.