Reading through the passion account in Matthew this year, I noticed the women. They’re faithfully there.
On Friday, when Jesus was abandoned and ridiculed and scorned from every possible direction, hanging there on the cross, we read this:
And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
— Matthew 27:55
I think about them standing there, from afar, looking on. What were they thinking and feeling? What might they have said to one another, standing there, watching it all unfold?
They must have felt so helpless, so astounded and incredulous, so grieved.
And then we read that they were there when Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in clean linen cloths, and laid it inside the brand-new tomb he’d recently hewn out of rock. It says:
And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
— Matthew 27:61
In his death, they remained as close to him as they could get. They sat at his tomb. They watched. They wondered. They remained.
And on Sunday morning, as soon as the Sabbath has passed, they were there at the dawn of morning. They “came to see the tomb,” Matthew tells us. Mark’s gospel says they brought spices with them there, so they could anoint his dead body.
The women take such care for him, I noticed. So attentive. So faithful and present, even after he died.
It’s how they remained with him in his life, too.
Mary of Bethany (believed to be Mary Magdalene by the Catholic tradition) sat at his feet when he visited her home one time. Even as her sister Martha prepared the meal in the kitchen and got things ready to eat, Mary sat at his feet looking up at him, listening, learning, just being with him.
On another occasion, that same Mary anointed his feet with expensive perfume as well as her very own tears, in anticipation and preparation of his death. Jesus remarks on every occasion that story is recorded in the gospels that it meant an incredible deal to him that she would demonstrate such love and care and sacrifice for him in his sorrows.
The women in Jesus’ life were so faithful and loving toward him.
And it so moves me that, on the Sunday after his death, when they came to the tomb with the intent to anoint his body with their spices, our risen Lord chose to appear to them first. What grace.