Last at the Cross

  “There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.” (Mark 15:40–41 ESV)

Mark finishes his description of Jesus’ death at the cross by recording only that “Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.” (vs. 37) The centurion who has been in charge of the crucifixion, having witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion is so affected that he testifies “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (vs. 39)

And that is it.  Jesus hangs dead upon the cross.

But what is this?  Mark says that there were women looking on from a distance and he even names some of them: Mary Magdalene—both Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus had cast out seven demons from her, she witnesses the crucifixion and is the first one to witness the empty tomb; Mary, mother of James the younger and Joses (and the mother of Jesus); Salome—who may be the mother of James and John (Matt 27.56), but it isn’t clear because Mark says there were more women than he names.

The last people at the cross were women who had been with Jesus since his days of ministry in Galilee, serving with him and ministering to him.  The gospel writers are mostly focused on the interaction between Jesus and his disciples and the inevitable crowds, but we suddenly discover from Mark, that these faithful women had been with him all along, and were faithful to the end.

They watch as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, take Jesus’ body down from the cross and wrap it carefully in linen cloth.  They follow as Joseph and Nicodemus carry him away; and they go to the location where Jesus will be laid to rest, a new grave across which a stone is rolled. (Mark 15.47)