Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25).
These four women never stopped loving Jesus and they weren’t ashamed to identify with him during the hour of his greatest need. The women initially stood near the cross and eventually moved farther away to join with some others (Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41).
Mary was the mother of Jesus and some other children (Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). Of course, she was well aware of her boy’s supernatural conception and birth. She had been around him as a child and watched him grow up as a man. She was very familiar with his public ministry and the miracles he did. Mary treasured all those things in her heart.
When Mary is first mentioned in the gospel of John, she’s attending a wedding; but now she’s getting ready for a burial (John 2:1-11). The hour had come for Jesus to die. Shortly after Jesus was born, it was prophesied that a sword would pierce Mary’s soul, and watching Jesus suffer and die was undoubtedly the fulfillment (Luke 2:35.) There is no mention of Mary ever denying Jesus’ claims to deity or of her distancing herself from him. Furthermore, we don’t read of any effort on her part to save him from this inevitable fate.
As mentioned in a previous Lenten devotional, Jesus asked John the apostle to take Mary into his home and he was willing to do that. We also know that Mary was part of the group in the upper room who were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14; 2:1-4). She is portrayed in the Bible as a woman of faith who loved God and his word. In the time of Jesus’ greatest need, Mary went with him all the way to the cross. It’s a beautiful display of a mother’s love!
From what we know, Mary Magdalene was from the town of Magdala. Magdalene is not her last name, but it’s a reference to her hometown on the western side of the Sea of Galilee. There is no place in the New Testament that suggests that Mary had loose morals or bad character. It’s important not to confuse Mary Magdalene with the “sinful woman” described in Luke 7:36-38. However, we do know that the Lord set her free from demons (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2), and she became one of his most loyal followers. In fact, she is said to have generously used her resources to assist Jesus in his ministry (Luke 8:2-3).
Two other women are mentioned as being at the crucifixion site. Mary, the wife of Clopas, whose identity is uncertain. John’s account also mentions that the mother of Jesus was accompanied by her sister. It’s quite possible that Mary’s sister was Salome, who was the wife of Zebedee, and the mother of the apostles, James and John (Matthew 27:56; Mark 10:35, 15:40). Salome once asked Jesus to allow her sons to sit on thrones in his kingdom, but Jesus denied that request (Matthew 20:20-29). Most of these women were related in some way to Jesus or his disciples.
It is interesting that a group of women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb on Easter morning. Mark records that many other women who had followed Jesus were at the site of the cross, but the gospel writers don’t give us their names (Mark 15:41).
Some have wondered if the women who traveled to the tomb on Easter morning got confused and went to the wrong place. Perhaps they weren’t clear on where Jesus was laid. However, that can’t be the case. It says in Mark 15:47, that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw were Jesus was laid. Obviously, they knew right where to go!
The fact is, on Sunday morning the tomb was empty. Jesus was raised from the dead! It’s foolish to try to explain away this miracle by saying that the women and everybody else forgot where Jesus was laid. That would also mean that even Joseph of Arimathea, who owned the tomb, also forgot where it was! It’s a historical fact that Jesus returned from the dead and many people saw him alive.
Lord, we are grateful for the example of these fearless and dedicated women. Their faithfulness is a great inspiration to us all. We rejoice in the truth of your death, burial, and resurrection and that you’re still changing lives today!
What hopes and dreams are you asking the Lord to fulfill today?