April 13, 2023
“…they went to the tomb…”
The gospel writer simply identifies them as they—the women.
These were they, as we read in the previous chapter, who were with Jesus at the cross. These were they who watched Joseph of Arimathea remove Jesus’s lifeless body from the cross, wrap it in linen, carry him, and place him in the never-used rock-carved tomb. These were they who followed Joseph so that they would know how to find the tomb and their friend after the Sabbath.
These were they who were faithfully with Jesus at the cross as he breathed his last and accompanied him to the grave.
They. The women. Who are not named until later in the telling. According to one scholar, this use of the pronoun is an intentional writing style indicating that they were known without need of naming. They, these women, were disciples and friends of Jesus.
Early on the first day they went to the tomb.
Did they walk, or did they run? Did they whisper together, or were they making their way in silence? Were they praying as they took each step? Were they each rehearsing in their heart what they wanted to say to the beloved one now dead? Or were they totally focused on the destination and arriving?
They went with a purpose and a clear intention. They had a task to do and a watch to keep.
When we visit the grave of a loved one, what do we carry in our hearts as we make our way? What sorrows do we hold? What memories fuel our way-making there? What courage is required to make our way there? How does visiting a grave or burial place honor the life of the person who died? Why do cemeteries feel like holy places?
These friends of Jesus made their way to the tomb in the grittiness of early grief. Today, practice staying with them as they make their way there. Be one of the companions in the group. Walk with them to the tomb. Listen to your heart and your prayer as you join this circle of women, these early risers, they who keep vigil with Jesus in life, in suffering, and in death.
Prayer: Holy One, give me courage in grief and times of loss. Thank you for these women who bravely honored Jesus in his death. May their faithfulness help me in mine. Amen.
Photo: Robert Anning Bell, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons