Mary Magdalene: Discovered the Tomb Empty

We left Mary Magdalene at the crucifixion.  Jesus is dead and they have taken his body to

Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene were two of the women at the crucifixion

the grave, but the Sabbath was beginning and the women could not prepare his body.  So, they go home to follow the Jewish customs of the day.  We’re not told where they were, but more than likely they were together.

John 20:1 tells us, “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher.”

Mary Magdalene went early to the tomb.  She was eager to arrive.

The women saw where Jesus was buried

What do you do when you have to be somewhere early or you are eager to get somewhere in the morning?   For me, that means that sleep is very difficult to come.  Mary Magdalene probably did not sleep that night.

She’d been waiting for more than a day to go to the tomb and prepare his body, however when she gets there she finds the stone is taken away.

Matthew 28:1 says, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.”

The women prepared spices for his body

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, although it is not specified in this passage which of the other Mary’s this might be, arrives as the sun begins to dawn in the sky.

Mark 16 gives us even more information, “When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.”

The Sabbath is over and my research shows that the Sabbath ended at sunset.  We know from the other scriptures that the women arrive at dawn and Mary Magdalene is joined by two other women.  They have spices with them so they can anoint his body.

The women arrived at the tomb early on Easter morning

His body had not been embalmed and they were taking spices to help preserve him and help with the smell.  We all know how things begin to smell as it starts to rot and the body is no different.

Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament  commentary says, “This shows that they did not expect his resurrection. The Jews were wont, as a mark of honor, to surround the body in the tomb with fragrant spices. Nicodemus (John 19:39, 40) had brought spices. Perhaps the women did not know this; perhaps they wished, in addition, to render their own loving service.”

They arrived to discover the stone rolled away

Luke 24 tells us much the same as what Mark says, “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they went in, they did not find the body.”  {v. 1-3}

Mark 16 goes on to give us more information, “They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” {verse 3}

Clearly these women do not expect for the stone to be rolled away.  Even though Jesus tried to prepare them for his resurrection, they did not understand and He knew that.  After all, we all know how things are much

The tomb was empty

clearer in hind sight.

These stones are heavy stones and a little research shows it could have weighted between 1-2 tons, but the exact weight is unknown.

What is clear is that the women expected the stone to be in front of the tomb.

When they arrived, they discovered the stone was not there and when they looked inside they found the body of Jesus was gone.

“As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.  But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.”

An angel appeared to say Jesus is not here

Can you imagine the shock these women must have been in?

First their Lord is dead.  Now they’ve waited through the Sabbath to return and have probably had little sleep and spent much time crying.  Then they hurry to the tomb as soon as possible to find that the stone is gone and Jesus is not there.

Finally, a man is sitting there saying that he is not there but has been raised.

While it is not indicated that this is an angel, it seems most likely that this is an angel that appeared to them.

The angel said Jesus is not here

Our commentary says, “Through woman death was first introduced into the world; to woman the first announcement was made of the resurrection.”

Luke 24 describes it as, “While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men[c] said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”  Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.”  {v.4-8}

The angels said to look for Jesus is Galilee

The women are perplexed or baffled or puzzled, but in this scripture verse we are told two men appear to them.  The women are terrified, but bow down to these men.  Clearly, they know they are messengers for God.

The messengers remind them that Jesus said he would rise on the third day.  Only when they are reminded do they seem to remember this prophecy.

Mark 16 continues, “ But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”  So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  {v. 7-8}

The first order is to go and tell the disciples, but of all the disciples Peter is mentioned specifically.  Remember, Peter had denied him three times.  The women are also told where to tell the disciples to find Jesus.

Our commentary says that by appearing to Mary Magdalene and Peter first, both of whom

The women ran to tell the disciples the news

sins we know, Jesus is saying “Savior’s saying that he came to save sinners.”

The women fled and we are told that “terror and amazement seized them”.  You can understand the terror, not knowing what the Roman officials would do, but at the same time they were amazed because in this moment they probably realized without any doubt that Jesus was indeed the son of God.

But they told no one for they were afraid.  The officials had crucified Jesus and he was hated by the church officials.  What would happen to Jesus and to them when these leaders discovered that Jesus was not dead, but had risen from the grave.

Luke 24: 10-11, says “the other women with them who told this to the apostles.  But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”

The women shared the news with the disciples

Clearly the women were still shaken when they went to tell the apostles.  You know how it is when you’ve had a traumatic event just happen and tell the story and your heart is still racing.  Besides the story is just too great to be true.  So, the disciples did not believe them.

The women arrive to find the tomb empty and discover that Jesus is not there.  They’ve been told he has risen and to tell the disciples he will meet them in Galilee.

The women are in shock and wonder as they take in the events that have happened.

How would you react to arrive on that Easter morning and discover the tomb was empty?


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