Chapter 3

Desolation

The third thing the Bible tells us about Mary is that on a bad Friday called Good Friday she stayed at the cross long after the disciples had fled. From Mark we learn that “some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed Him and cared for His needs. Many other women who had come up with Him to Jerusalem were also there” (Mark 15:40–41).

After agonizing hours, Jesus died. Joseph of Arimathea, along with Nicodemus, came to take the body of Jesus off the cross and place it in a tomb.

Matthew tells us that “Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb” (Matthew 27:59–61). 

We see women who were completely committed to Jesus Christ even in the midst of their bitter grief.

All four gospel writers take pains to tell us that Mary and the other women not only stayed through the awful hours of crucifixion but made sure they knew where Jesus had been buried so they could come after the Sabbath and finish anointing the body. When we look at Mary Magdalene and the others, we see women who were completely committed to Jesus Christ even in the midst of their bitter grief.

It comes as no surprise that we find these same women, with Mary Magdalene apparently leading them, up before dawn on Sunday morning, hurrying to the garden tomb. Here were women carrying out their normal role in Jewish society, preparing a dead body for proper burial. As they went, they fretted about a very real problem they faced: who would roll away the large stone at the entrance to the tomb?

They knew the size of the stone. They had watched as Joseph and Nicodemus hastily laid Jesus’ body in the tomb and rolled the heavy cartwheel across the opening. They also knew that the stone was sealed by the Roman government. That seal could not be broken. Yet they were determined to do the right thing for Jesus. They had cared for His needs for three years as He traveled around Galilee and back and forth to Judea. They had taken His physical well-being as their responsibility. So in His death they could not shrink from giving Him a correct burial. Despite the obstacles—a huge stone and a Roman seal—they seized the first opportunity to come to the tomb.

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