I often think of Mariam, the mother of Jesus, Mary of Magdalen and the other woman who were among the disciples of Christ. we know that there were at least 7, maybe more, names we know of were:
Mary of Magdalene
Mary or Mariam the mother of Jesus
Martha, sister of Lazarus
Miriamne, sister of Phillip
and Susanna or Joanne.
The thing that I am most stuck by, is that on the day that Christ was Crucified, it was the woman who stood by and bore witness to his torture and death. John 19:25-26 says: But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved, John (my addition) standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
The other disciples bailed. all of them, they ran for the hills! I do not know if they watched him being unfairly judged, I do not know if they were there when he was whipped by the cat of nine tails, that literally tore the flesh off his torso. or when they put the crown of thorns upon his head. but the woman were. I think if the woman had been with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, they would have stayed awake and prayed with him.
I think I remember reading somewhere that he was unrecognizable after his beatings and torture. That he did not even look human, Can you even fathom watching that being done to your child? could you watch? Meriam did. When he died that Friday afternoon on Golghtha or Calvery, also known as the Place of the Skull. It was the three women, and John, who took down his body and lay him in a borrowed grave, without doing any of the ritual that needed to be done for a Jewish burial nothing. (remember? he was not a Christian, he was, a Jew.) Then they rolled a stone in front of the grave.
They could not break the sabbath as they were being watched very closely. So they left him there, went back to the house or compound where they were staying. and observed the sabbath. I once asked a Rabbi if the Jews sat Shiva in those days, he was not sure, but he personally thought that they did. If indeed the Jews of that day sat Shiva, the disciples, his students, his family and loved one were not able to fully fall in to that sacred Shiva place.
I think about the woman. When they went back “home” and had to face the disciples who had bailed. Were the men even there? Did they come home to a dark empty house? Did it match how their hearts felt? If they were there, did they expect the woman folk to feed them? I bet that those woman gave them an earful when they did finely see them.
I think, that night, that they either fell asleep when their heads hit the pillow, or worse, they lay in bed unable to remove the horror that they had witness from their minds eye. or if they slept it was fitful and full of nightmares. I think about that Saturday, just. waiting. Or maybe they shut the house up so they could in secret, prepare the elements needed for the burial ritual. Mariam already had two of them remember? Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Matt 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. The gold was given to Kings. Frankincense was given to worship the King. And Myrrh, was used to prepare the dead for burial as were the swaddling clothes.
Did Mariam keep some of the swaddling clothes her son was wrapped when he was born? Did she keep the Myrrh? Who knows? I think on that Saturday, the woman sat in a circle and tore linen cloths to wrap their Lord in. So the woman prepared the spices including the myrrh. I wonder if they slept at all that night? You know how when you know you have to get up at zero dark thirty and so you can’t really sleep, how you keep waking up because you KNOW you can not really sleep cuz what if you do not wake up in time!
I wonder, if the women stood at the door waiting, for the right time to go and prepare their Lord. Their friend and teacher and son, did they have in their arms all that was needed? was as it heavy? Lets look at this for a sec, he had been dead for 3 days, he was beaten beyond recognition. He stank. He would have been in a state rigor mortis. body fluids would be everywhere, I can not really even fathom what they faced. But they knew and went anyway.
I imagine them walking to the tomb, their body and souls heavy with grief and fear and anger and fatigue, with dark circles under their eyes, still swollen from all the tears? or were they were they just utterly and completely numb. Did they speak? Did one of them ask “How the hell are we going to roll away that stone?” Did they even need to speak? Was it a long walk? To top it off, there was an earthquake, we do not know how big it was, but we do know it was big enough to be really scary.
They get to the tomb. The stone had been rolled away. One of the Gospels says that when the woman arrived there was a man on top of the tomb. Mary thought it was a Gardner. Mary goes in sees only the rags folded. Jesus was not there. The story goes on to say that she went over to the “Gardner” (we know he is Jesus, but she does not) and says to him, “Do you know where they have taken my lord?” The man responds “Who? that guy, Jesus?” Now, i can just see him, Jesus, he was a bit of a smart ass, sitting there, tossing twigs in to a pond or something. and she asks again. through her tears and anger, fear, grief, exhaustion, I bet she was not very “polite” “DO. YOU. KNOW. WHERE. THEY. HAVE. TAKEN. MY. LORD!? Because, if you tell me, I WILL. GO. AND. GET. HIM.” like a mother working very hard not to cuss out her kid. At that point, Jesus says one word. “Mary” i wonder, how did he say it? was it,
“MARY!” exasperated that she did not recognize him.
or did he say it in a soft loving voice that he kept just for her? “oh, Mary”
I like to think the later. because she recognizes him and goes to hug him. But he stops her and tells her she can not, because he had not yet “ascended to the Father.”
It was the woman. Who stood by him while he was being executed.
It was the woman and John who took him down from the cross and lay him in the borrowed tomb.
It was the woman, who waited for the safe time to go prepare him for burial. after 3 days in the heat of Jerusalem.
It was the woman who saw him first.
That means something, don’t you think?