The Visit On The Third Day

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It is written:

Mark 16:1-2-Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2  Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.

There is a beautiful lesson for us in this passage regarding the time frame of when the women visit the tomb of Jesus.

Jesus had died and been buried on Friday, also known as the Day of Preparation.

Luke 23:52-56- This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. 54  That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. 55  And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. 56  Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

Jesus was buried on Friday, stayed in the tomb on Saturday, and arose early in the morning on Sunday morning: the third day after His death, and the first day of the week.

Among the Jewish people of the first century, there was an interesting belief that helps us better understand why Mary and the others went to Jesus’ tomb on the third day.

“First, why did Mary go to the sepulcher or tomb on Sunday morning? We assume it was to complete the burial process of anointing the body with spices or oils. This seems a bit far-fetched as we are talking over 36 hours after the death, and thus it is not kosher to touch a dead body after that time. One would become ceremonially unclean to perform a religious ceremony. Generally, the answer would be that there would be a period of grace since Jesus died just before the Sabbath and they did not have time to prepare the body properly, and they could not do it on the Sabbath, so a little grace time was given to finish the burial process, which is why Mary arrived at dawn. That is a possible explanation, but I do not find anything in the Talmud granting such grace periods, although I am not an expert on the Talmud. Besides, the whole reason for bringing the body off the cross just before the Sabbath was to allow enough time to prepare the body. They would not have entombed the body without proper burial procedures. I believe a more accurate reason would be in the Semitic culture itself, which plays into the passages of John 20. It was an old Semitic custom to visit the graves of the dead on the third day after their passing to say a final farewell to the soul of the departed. It was believed that the soul hovered over the body for three days before departing. It was believed that many times the dead would return to life briefly on the third day for a short time until he fully realizes he is dead. This is a chance for a final farewell…Also, according to this tradition, they would anoint (not touch) the body with oils and then burn some incense as the body would “stinketh” after three days, and then they would wait for the soul to appear and either enter the body or in some way give a last farewell. It was believed that the soul would seek to find the ones it loved to say a last farewell. Thus, the loved ones would appear at the tomb to make it easier for the soul to find them.” (Chaim Bentorah, Aramaic Word Study: Exploring The Language Of The New Testament, 179-181 (Kindle Edition): Chaim Bentorah Ministries)

Jesus fully understands the pain that we feel in death. He used this time of sorrow that Mary and the other women experienced to bring forth unparalleled joy, which also serves as a promise to us that one Day the Lord Jesus will return for His people.

Christian, even in the midst of suffering, persecution, temptation, and death: you have the victory through Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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