What in the world were they thinking? Did their grief over Jesus’ death cloud their judgment? Were they acting impulsively “as women tend to do?” The women disciples in Jesus’ life were faithful and courageous followers during His life and in His death. In PART III, we left the women watching Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both Jesus’ disciples, prepare Jesus’ body for burial with seventy-five pounds of spices and they wrapped the body with linen cloths. They placed the body in Joseph’s new tomb and rolled a giant boulder in front of the entrance [Read Mt 27:57-61, Mk. 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42]. Didn’t Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses [See Mark 15:47] know about the amount of spices on the body? Didn’t they remember the giant stone? Two women could not roll that stone away, could they?
I believe the women did not stop and think about the obstacles in the way. Instead, they focused on their goal. That goal was to do one more kindness for Jesus by going to the tomb where Jesus’ body lay and finish the burial preparations, as was the Jewish custom. Yes, Joseph and Nicodemus did prepare Jesus’ body “on the day of Preparation, that is the day before the Sabbath” [read Mark 15:42]. Because it was almost the Sabbath, when all work had to cease, these two men might have been in a hurry to get things done, in order to place Jesus in the new tomb, on the same day Jesus died, as was the custom. The women did not act impulsively. Luke 23:55-56 records, “The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned [home] and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” To these women this Sabbath rest must have felt like the longest Sabbath rest ever! But, it was worth the wait!
The women did rest on the Sabbath, but they didn’t waste any time the day after the Sabbath. All four Gospels give different details and together they paint one big picture of what happened on that awesome day!
“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary [mother of Joses] went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen as He said. Come see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him…’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his [men] disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me’” [Matthew 28:1-10].
The Gospel of Mark adds a few more details and has its own uniqueness:
“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the MOTHER OF JAMES, and SALOME BOUGHT SPICES, SO THAT THEY MIGHT GO AND ANOINT HIM [JESUS]. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. AND THEY SAID TO ONE ANOTHER, ‘WHO WILL ROLL AWAY THE STONE?’ And looking up, they saw the stone had been rolled back – it was very large. AND ENTERING THE TOMB, THEY SAW A YOUNG MAN SITTING ON THE RIGHT SIDE, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.’ AND THEY WENT OUT AND FLED FROM THE TOMB, FOR TREMBLING AND ASTONISHMENT HAD SEIZED THEM, AND THEY SAID NOTHING TO ANYONE, FOR THEY WERE AFRAID’” [Mark 16:1-8].
There are also verses in Mark [in our Bibles] that were not in the earliest manuscripts. For instance:
“Now when He [Jesus] rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that He was alive, and had been seen by her, they would not believe it” [vv. 9-11]
In Luke’s account of the Resurrection of Jesus [24:1-12], the main details are similar. On the first day of the week, the women left very early in the morning and brought spices to the tomb [v.1]. The women found the stone rolled away [v. 2] and did not find Jesus body in the tomb [v. 3]. But, instead of one angel or young man, “TWO MEN STOOD BY THEM IS DAZZLING APPAREL” [v. 4]. The two men in dazzling apparel knew the women were afraid [v. 5], so they encouraged them with these words: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” [vv. 5b-7]. The women did remember and returned “to the eleven disciples and all the rest” [v. 9]. In Luke’s account of the Resurrection, he identifies the women to be Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James “and other women with them who told these things to the apostles” [v. 10]. Luke wrote that THE APOSTLES DID NOT BELIEVE THE WOMEN AND SAID THAT “THESE WORDS SEEMED TO THEM AN IDLE TALE” [v. 11]. All except PETER wanted to see for himself and “ROSE AND RAN TO THE TOMB; STOOPING AND LOOKING IN, HE SAW THE LINEN CLOTHS BY THEMSELVES; AND HE WENT HOME MARVELING AT WHAT HAD HAPPENED” [v. 12]. John’s Gospel includes John and Peter running to the tomb [Read John 20:1-10].
What about John and his Gospel? Surely John [“the disciple whom Jesus loved”] would be able to present the events of the Resurrection of Jesus in chronological order and also tie up loose ends; wouldn’t he? It’s important to get all the facts right, isn’t it?
To be continued…