Harmony of the Gospels

                                                                   HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS

(1) Women Visit the Tomb

Scripture: Luke 24:1-11

Tom Lowe



Date: Sunday—A.D. 30
Location: Near Jerusalem



In this passage the apostles are charged with Forgetting His word. The stone was rolled away, the body of Jesus was gone, and the women were perplexed. Why? Because they had forgotten His word. Today, angels do not come to remind us of His word; the Holy Spirit has that ministry (John 14:26[1]). Yield to the Spirit and let Him remind you of the promises that will encourage your heart.


1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

Upon the first day of the week. The Lord's Day, our Sunday. The women had “beheld the tomb and how his body was laid” on Friday, then “prepared spices and ointments” in accordance with Jewish burial customs, and “rested on the Sabbath day (Saturday) according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56[2]), but early Sunday morning they came to the tomb on their mission of love.  As to the time when these women arrived much has been written.  Mark says “when the sun was risen” (16:2); Matthew “at dawn” (28:1); Luke “very early ion the morning” (here in 24:1); and John “while it was still dark” (20:1).  A possible solution for the apparent disagreement is this: although it was still dark when the women started out, the sun had risen when they arrived at the tomb.

I believe they were depressed, exhausted, mourning, having no hope whatsoever—and according to Mark, fretting over how they would get into the tomb (Mark 16:3[3]).  They did not expect anything except more sorrow.

They came. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joses (Matt 28:1[4]), Salome (Mark 16:1[5]), and Joanna (verse 10); and there were others.

Bringing the spices—to embalm the body of our Lord: but Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had done this before the body was laid in the tomb (John 19:39, 40[6]). But there was a second embalming necessary: the first must have been hastily and imperfectly performed; the spices now brought by the women were intended to complete the preceding operation.  In this particular climate decomposition of the body was rapid.  So these women went to the tomb in order to anoint the body of Jesus with the “aromatics;”that is, the spices and perfume they had prepared.

And certain others with them—there were other women present at the tomb, but we are not given their names. They were the “other women” who traveled along with the women named—“It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them…” Luke 23:55[7]  mentions that these other women came from Galilee.

Then on Sunday at early dawn, it was probably around 5 A.M., they arrived at the tomb as the sun was rising.

They refers to the women; and they made their way to the tomb, carrying the spices which they had prepared for the body of Jesus. But how did they expect to get to His body? Didn’t they know that a huge stone had been rolled against the mouth of the tomb? We are not told the answer. All we know is that they loved Him dearly, and love often forgets the difficulties met in order to reach its object.

2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

The stone rolled away from the sepulcher. When they arrived they found the stone had been rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. An angel from God had done this before they reached the tomb. The stone was not rolled away to let the Lord Jesus out but to let the women in.

Matthew 28: 2-4[8]  records that an earthquake occurred and an angel rolled the stone away.  The Roman guards fainted with fear.  Mark, Luke, and John make no mention of the guards, so it appears they fled when they awoke to find the empty tomb.  The women must have arrived shortly thereafter.

The evangelist Mark report’s that on the way to the tomb the women had been worried about the stone.  We read, “And they were saying to each other, ‘who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

First-century sepulchers with round stone doors may still be seen in Jerusalem at the tomb of the kings, and at Herod’s tomb. The openings are from the ground to about waist-high. This explains why various persons are said to stoop down to look in (vs. 12; Jn 20:5)

This verse is a reminder, that, when persons have strong confidence in God, obstacles do not hinder them from undertaking whatever they have reason to believe he requires; and they leave the removal of them to him: and what is the consequence? They go on their way comfortably, and all difficulties vanish before them.

3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

As soon as they went in, they saw that the body of the Lord Jesus was missing. His holy soul was in Paradise, Luke 23:43[9] .

They apparently assumed Jesus’ body had been stolen—that is what John tells us Mary Magdalene thought (John 20:13[10] ).  The empty tomb intensified their distress.

4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed. These women, as well as others later, actually entered into the tomb and saw two features which proved to them the miraculous nature of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead. (1) The body was gone. (2) The grave clothes or strips of cloth that had encircled the body with gummy resinous spices were still intact. It must have looked like an empty mummy shell. The resurrected body of Christ had passed through the cloth wrappings, leaving them undisturbed. That was what convinced Peter and others of the truth of the resurrection (Jn 20:6–8[11]). If the mummy-like wrapping had been disturbed in any way, no one could have been sure of what had happened.

Shining garments.  Shining means flashing like lightning.

Obviously there was no plot on the part of the disciples to remove the body (as the Jewish leaders charged) or these women would have had some hint of it.

behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
First, they saw one angel outside the tomb, which went in ahead of them, and sat with another angel in the sepulchre, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.  Their garments were not only white, but bright, and casting a luster about them. The women, when they saw the angels, were afraid , thinking that they had bad news to tell them.

5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

Why seek ye the living among the dead?—this was a common form of speech among the Jews, and seems to be applied to those who had foolishly come to the tomb expecting to see Jesus’ body.  Because places of burial were unclean, it was not reasonable to suppose that the living would frequent them; or that if anyone was missing he was likely to be found in such places. They scold the women for the absurdity of the search they were making: Why seek ye the living among the dead? The angel was witnessing to the good news that Christ is living. It is the joy of all Christians to be able to sing, I know that my Redeemer liveth;  because he lives we shall live also. But it is an admonition for those that look for him among the dead,—that look for him among the dead heroes that the Gentiles worshipped, as if he were just like one of them,—that look for him in an image, or a crucifix, the work of men’s hands, or among unwritten tradition and the inventions of men. It is truly said that those expecting happiness and satisfaction from any living thing, or perfection in this imperfect state, may be said to seek the living among the dead.

The women were accused of coming to anoint a lifeless Jesus when they should have known he would rise from the dead.  It was scandalous to look for Jesus in the grave. After what the angel said to the women they were overcome with fear and bowed down until their faces were on the ground as a sign of respect and perhaps to shield their eyes from the bright light that radiated from the angels.

Why did the women come, and why did Peter (and John) come running to the tomb?  They were seeking the dead among the dead; they were not seeking the living.  They did not believe that the Lord Jesus Christ would come back from the dead. 

6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

Remember how he spake … in Galilee. See Matt 16:21; 17:22; Mark 8:31; 9:31; John 2:22. These women were from Galilee and had heard, or heard of, these words. They remembered even though they did not understand his words at the time. He had risen as He had promised when He was still with them in Galilee. He had foretold them that the Son of Man had to be turned over to sinful men and be crucified and that on the third day He would rise again? (Luke 9:22[12] ; 18:33[13] ).

They assured them that he is raised from the dead: "He is not here, but is risen, by his own power." These angels were competent witnesses, since they had been sent from heaven with orders to bring this message to the women. They refer them to his own words: Remember what he spoke to you, when he was yet in Galilee. If they had truly believed his prediction, they would easily have believed in his resurrection when it came to pass; and therefore, the report might not have been such a surprise to them. The angels repeated to them what Christ had often said, that The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and though it was done by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, those that did it were guilty for doing it. He told them that he must be crucified. No doubt, they could not forget his prediction when they saw it fulfilled with their own eyes.

but is risen—more accurately “he has been raised.”

7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Saying. How remarkable it is to hear angels quoting a whole sentence of Christ's to the disciples, mentioning where it was uttered, and wondering why it was not fresh in their memory, as no doubt it was in theirs! (1Ti 3:16[14] , and 1Pe 1:12[15] ).

Sinful men—or heathens, i.e. the Romans, the only ones who could put him to death; for the Jews themselves acknowledged that this power was now vested in the hands of the Roman governor alone. See John 19:15[16].

8 And they remembered his words,

They remembered his words—even the simple recollection of the words of Christ often become a source of comfort and support to those who are distressed or tempted: for his words are the words of eternal life.

9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

When it all came back to them, they returned hurriedly to the city and told the news to the eleven disciples.  It is impossible to know how much the women really understood at this point, but they did bear testimony to what they had seen and heard: “when they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the 11 and to all the others.”

Jesus had with him in Jerusalem a larger group of followers than just the 11 disciples.  Joseph of Arimathæa, Nicodemus, the women, and many others were undoubtedly included in the group.

10  It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

Among those first heralds of the resurrection were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James.  These devout women and others were hoping to finish preparing their Lord’s body for burial.  It was a sad labor of love that was transformed into gladness when they discovered that Jesus was alive.

And Joanna—She was the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward. See Luke 8:3[17].

Mary Magdalene.  She had been especially helped by Jesus and was devoted to him (Luke 8:2[18]).  She lingered at the cross (Mark 15:47), and then she was first at the tomb.

Mary the mother of James: “James the younger” according to Mark 15:40[19].  Possibly “James the son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18[20]).

11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

Seemed to them as idle tales. The apostles seemed not to have the slightest expectation of a resurrection; therefore, they believed the women’s story was nonsense.  You would have thought that these women would have been considered credible witnesses and their testimony would have been accepted.  The first disbelievers of the Resurrection were the apostles themselves.

How sad it is when God’s people forget his Word and live defeated lives.  To-day, the Spirit of God assists us to remember his Word (John 14: 26[21]).

Jesus later rebuked them for their belief.

_____________Scripture Reference_______________
  [1]The words of Jesus—But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

  [2]And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
  [3]And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
  [4]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 sepulchre.
  [5]And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 
  [6]And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury
  [7]And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

  [8]And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
  [9]And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
  [10]And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

  [11]Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

  [12]Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 
  [13]And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 

  [14]And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 
  [15]Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
  [16]But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
  [17]And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
  [18]And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 
  [19]There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;
  [20]And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, 
  [21]But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.


Please send your questions, comments, and prayer requests.

 Charles Schulz consistently provided helpful and humorous insights through his Peanuts comic strip. In one run he showed Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally, struggling with her memory verse for Sunday. She was lost in her thoughts trying to figure it out when she recalled, “Maybe it was something from the book of Reevaluation.” She never did find her memory verse but she sure gave us something to remember when it comes to studying the Bible. We should always read it with the intent of reevaluating our attitudes and actions to make sure they are squaring up with the truth of God’s Word.

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