In this study we will consider a band of women who were devoted to the Lord and were with Him all the way through His public testimony.
Their Spirituality (Lk 23.55-56)
They were faithful followers
These women had accompanied the Lord Jesus all the way from Galilee. Luke 8.2-3 tells us that they were with Him while He went through the cities and villages preaching and healing and they ministered to Him of their substance. They stood afar off at the crucifixion (23.49), and here they are at the burial of the Saviour.
They were intelligent observers
At the cross they were "beholding these things" (v.49). As Joseph buried Him in his own new tomb they "beheld where he was laid" (Mk 15.47). Here, in Luke 23.55, we are told that they "beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid". They observed the costly embalming of the body by Joseph and Nicodemus, and the loving care with which it was laid in the tomb. What observations have we had recently of the cross and the tomb? Would that God would make fresh impressions on our hearts.
They were prepared worshippers
"They returned, and prepared spices and ointments." "Spices" is the word aroma and undoubtedly reminds us of the fragrance of worship, and "ointments" comes from a word which means freely flowing, and was probably myrrh oil. This ointment, W E Vine tells us, was the best of its kind and very costly! Are we giving to Him the best today, and what does it cost us?
They were obedient believers
They "rested the sabbath day according to the commandment". It is good when Scripture is worked out in our lives. These women simply obeyed the word of God. Would that all Gods people were just prepared to submit to the teaching of Holy Scripture! We are living in a day when believers are presenting all sorts of reasons why they should not do what is written and has been practised down through the years!
Their Discovery (Lk 24.1-3)
They discovered an open tomb!
Significance of a new day
Luke tells us it was the first day of the week. How significant and important this day has become to believers of this dispensation. We no longer observe the Sabbath as they did, but what place do we give to the Lords Day?
It is, of course, the day of resurrection, when Christ Himself rose from among the dead. How accurate Scripture is when we are told that the wave sheaf, a picture of the resurrection of the Lord, in the Feast of Firstfruits, was to be waved before the Lord "on the morrow after the Sabbath", that is, on the first day of the week (Lev 23.11).
It is also the day of remembrance when we are asked to bring to mind the Lord Jesus at the Supper and show forth His death until He comes.
It is a day when we can render to God materially and spiritually those things we have laid by in store (1 Cor 16.2). The world treats this day just like any other day, but we as Gods people ought to be different and as much as possible set this day aside for Him.
Hindrance to exercise removed
The first thing they discovered was that "the stone (was) rolled away from the sepulchre". Mark records that as they came they asked themselves, "Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?" (16.3). They anticipated the problem for the stone was "very great", but it did not deter their exercise. What a discovery they made God removes obstacles to faith for seeking souls! What impediments do we feel are in the way to more devoted service to the Lord? God is able to overcome the hindrances in our lives too!
Absence of the body
The next discovery was that the body was missing! Note that you do not make any discoveries unless you "enter in"! Just stay static spiritually, dont reach out in faith, stick to your comfort zone and you wont make any discoveries about what God is able to do! They came very early, but just too late! They were not unprepared but their exercise was unfulfilled! However, I believe God gave them credit for what they intended to do. Sometimes we start out to do one thing for the Lord and God opens up some far greater appreciation than we could have imagined. They did not find a dead body but they were going to find a living Christ!
Their Perplexity (Lk 24.4-6a)
Which of us has not found ourselves in perplexing circumstances in life? The word can mean to doubt, but literally it means "at a loss for a way" (Vine)!
The body had gone, two men "in shining garments" stood before them and they did not know which way to turn. Have you ever felt that there was no way out?
No doubt that was the experience of Israel when they came out of Egypt. Pharaoh and his armies pursued them, the Red Sea was before them and the cliffs at the side of them - there was no way out! But God made a way through the sea (Ex 14)!
Paul uses this word in 2 Corinthians 4.8 as he speaks of the trials and persecutions he experienced: " perplexed, but not in despair". It is a play on the words - without a way but not utterly without a way! Brethren and sisters, with God there is always a way!
These women may have been perplexed but they were going to learn that with God there is even a way out of death! Did not Abraham bury his dead with this hope in view? He bought as a burying place the cave of Machpelah. Abraham believed as he buried Sarah that death was not the end - there was a way in but there was also a way out. That way out is through resurrection. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15.23, "Christ the firstfruits; afterwards they that are Christs at his coming".
In the gloom of the tomb there was light. These men were shining to dispel darkness, to remove doubt and encourage devotion! If we are becoming afraid and feel bowed down, let us hear again the angelic message, "He is not here, but is risen"!
Notice they were seeking the right Person but in the wrong place. This is like the bride in the Song of Songs. In ch.3, twice over she says, "I sought him but I found him not" (vv.1 & 2). She was looking for him in the wrong condition - on her bed of ease and indolence (v.1), and in the wrong location - "in the broad ways will I seek him" (v.2). What about you and me today? Do not look for the Living One among the dead!
Earlier the bride had said, "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons". That is where we will find Him too among the sons!
Their Memory (Lk 24.6b-8)
The angels asked them to remember the words that the Lord had spoken to them in Galilee. Verse 8 tells us, "They remembered his words". It is good to have the witness of angels but there is no substitute for the Word of Christ Himself. After all is said and done, our faith rests upon the Word of God about Christs death, burial and resurrection. The womens previous times of communion, listening to the teaching of the Lord Jesus, were now flooding back into their minds. If, as they did, we have spent times with our Lord when He has spoken to us through His Word, that will stand us in good stead when testing times come to challenge our faith.
Their Testimony (Lk 24.9-13)
They returned in their enthusiasm to tell of their experience to the eleven and the others. Their words were dismissed as idle tales and they were not believed. Many may still get that response today, but let us be encouraged to tell them, being assured in our souls that the testimony is true! Even if one, like Peter, is caused through our testimony to go and look for themselves into the undisputable evidence of the resurrection, that will make it worthwhile.
Eternity alone will reveal the impact that these godly women made for the Lord Jesus as they followed Him.