Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
For twenty centuries Christians have greeted one another on Easter with “Christ is risen!” That greeting is met with a confident “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” This custom is more than mere ritual. When we do this, we remind one another that Jesus’ bodily resurrection is the bedrock on which our salvation is built. The apostle Paul wrote, “[Christ] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). These words were written so that we might find the strength and comfort of the resurrection throughout our earthly life and in the hour of our death.
But early on that first Easter Sunday, the comfort of the resurrection seemed to be the last thing on the women’s minds.
Who were these women? Jesus had driven seven demons out of Mary of Magdala. The other Mary and Salome had sons who were Jesus’ disciples. The women themselves followed Jesus and his disciples on their journeys, At great personal sacrifice, they provided for the disciples’ needs. They, no doubt, had heard that Jesus had foretold his death at the hands of the chief priest and the leaders of the people. On each of those occasions, Jesus also had told his disciples that he would rise again from the dead. In addition to that, the women surely knew Jesus was the Lord of life.
With all of those advantages, how could they go to the tomb expecting to find a dead Savior? Why were they overcome with the image of their Savior hanging on the cross? How could the numb disbelief of watching Jesus’ lifeless body laid in Joseph’s new tomb obscure Jesus’ promise of rising from the dead?
There is both a warning and a great comfort in these events. Most of us are all too familiar with the women’s attitude at their graveside visitation. At times, we, as they, can be so overcome with doubt or grief that our Lord’s promises escape us. The evidence all around us of sin’s activity and of death makes us overlook his great promises. But we must not let the things we see so overwhelm us that they obscure Jesus’ clear, simple words of the blessings of his resurrection. Rather, we should take refuge in the fact that Jesus’ resurrection is inseparable from the resurrection of his believers. Because he lives, sin and death have been defeated and we too will rise.