Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 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.

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid. Mark 15:40-47

Mark is careful to record the activity of the women around the cross. No mention of the disciples – they were probably hiding, but the women were present, watching what was happening and planning their next move. So was Joseph of Arimathea. According to Mark, he must have anticipated Jesus’ death since he was a non-consenting member of the Sanhedrin. He had decided to take charge of Jesus’ body and had brought the linen cloth in which he would wrap the body.

By this time. the hostile crowd had melted away. Their sport was over. Jesus was beyond their taunts and jeers. Besides, the strange events in the heavens made them restless and uneasy. Only the women, Joseph and soldiers kept vigil. When Joseph was sure that Jesus was dead, he made his way quickly to Pilate to request His body for burial. He did not want the body of His Master to be thrown on the city garbage heap where the bodies of criminals were burned. Pilate consented after ensuring from the centurion that He was really dead – something unusual because victims of crucifixion could hover between life and death for days.

The women watched – Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James the less and Salome. According to John, there was a third Mary, the mother of Jesus, held by her love for her son. Matthew also mentions the mother of James and John and Luke adds Joanna. They were all loyal women who had trailed Him all the way from Galilee and who were always hovering in the background, seeing to His needs and serving Him and His disciples.

Unlike the disciples, they were no threat to anyone, least of all the Roman soldiers. They were not afraid of associating with Jesus. What a beautiful ministry they had, just being there! They followed Joseph so that they could see where His body was being buried. The Sabbath was only hours away. They would rest and then pay Jesus their last respects by anointing His body with oils and spices.

There is an atmosphere of sorrow that hovers over this scene.  Everything has slowed down. The panic is over. Time seems to have stopped! It’s as though heaven and earth are holding their breath, waiting for something to happen. Only His friends mourn, unaware of a new drama to unfold un three days. In the pain of their loss they had forgotten His promise, “In three days I’ll be back!”

Luella Campbell

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