Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of James Brought Spices to Anoint the Body of Jesus

Matthew 28:1 and Mark 16:1

At dawn on Sunday the seventeenth of Nisan

A golden dawn was streaking across the sky when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:1b; Mark 16:1b). All of the evidence that the Gospel writers have marshaled to substantiate their claim that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God, falls short of being the Good News without the conclusive fact of the resurrection. So the reports the event through the eyes of three women who were also firsthand witnesses of Yeshua’s crucifixion and burial were vital. Although women were not considered reliable witnesses, their corroboration could not be disclaimed.1644 This is a summary statement of the events that would shortly unfold.

There was evidently no thought of resurrection in Mary Magdalene’s mind. She had seen up close the devastating effects of the bitter blows her Savior had received on His way to the cross. She had witnesses firsthand as His life ebbed from Him. She had watched as His lifeless body was unceremoniously wrapped in linen and hastily prepared ointment, and left alone in the tomb. The one thought that filled her heart was a desire to do properly what she had seen done so hurriedly and haphazardly by Nicodemus and Joseph. She thought she was coming to the tomb for one final expression of love to her Master – to whom she knew she owed everything.1645

It wasn’t hope that led them to the Garden tomb. It was duty. Naked devotion. They expected nothing in return. What could Yeshua give them? He was dead! These three women were not going to the tomb to receive, they were going to the tomb to give. Period.

There is no motivation more noble . . .

Service prompted by duty. This is the call to discipleship.1646

The Sabbath was over (Hebrew: Motza’ei-Shabbat)and it was the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1a; Mark 16:1a). Matthew actually uses the plural word (Sabbaths), which points to the extended length of the Sabbath of Passover (Thursday sundown to Friday sundown) and then the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread and the weekly Shabbat together on the same day.1647 These women were part of the team of talmidim and wanted to show their respect to their dead Master. This was impossible to do at night after the close of the high holy Shabbat. But at dawn on the third day of Pesach, Sunday, when Shabbat was over, those women took the earliest opportunity to visit the tomb.

If Jesus died in our day, we would hold a memorial service, leave flowers and tender notes by His grave, organize a candlelight vigil – anything to express our feelings and get a little closure. Mary Magdalene and the other women from Galilee had a similar impulse. Here was one last change to minister to Yeshua, though with heightened security around His tomb even that was risky. They planned to return to His tomb as early as possible after the Sabbath to enclose His body with spices. After His burial, the women had gone home and prepared the spices and perfumes. Then there was nothing to do but wait.


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