Summary: There is a group of women who are witnesses to the death, burial and empty tomb. They have also faithfully followed and cared for Jesus. Yet they have a moment when they are silent and afraid. The “silent witness" of these Women is for us to think about how these moments define us.

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Silent Witnesses

Mark 15:40-16:8

The Women Who Were Following and Caring.

It’s Friday and Jesus is dead.

Luke 23:46

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Then what happens?

Let’s read Mark 15:40-16:8 (read)

Out of all that is happening here let’s focus specifically on the witnesses of these events.

Mark 15:40

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.

Mark 15:47

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Mark 16:1

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

These women are witnesses to the key events … the essential components … of the Christian faith.

Different people turn up at different times, but only these women have seen it all.

They saw Jesus die.

They saw where Jesus was buried.

They saw the empty tomb where Jesus was meant to be

Only these women can provide continuity of eyewitness.

They are not quite “silent witness” because we know about their conversation on how to move the stone. So they are “mostly silent witnesses” who cause us to reflect today.

Individually we only have a little information about these women.

Luke 8:2

Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out.

Mary Magdalene also plays a significant role in John 20.

There is some thought that Mary the mother of James the younger and Joseph

… is the same Mary called the wife of Clopas in John 19:25.

… possible James the younger is the other disciple called James son of Alpheaus.

But this is not certain, only possible.

Salome doesn’t appear anywhere else. When Matthew records this event he writes

Matthew 27:56

Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

This has led to the suggestion that Salome is the same person as the mother of Zebedee’s sons … the mother of James and John.

It is quite possible, but again we need to be cautious.

So what we have is a group of three women,

… well known to the readers of Mark’s Gospel

… who are a little bit known to us.


Not just witnesses of the death, burial and resurrection.

Mark 15:41

In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

If nothing else this verse shatters the idea of Jesus and the 12 disciples walking together around the countryside – all all-male wandering band of merry men.

Luke gives us a bit more of a picture.

Luke 8:1-3

After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

A support network, mostly women, many of them with significant means.

Witnesses …

… to the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the lame walking.

… to demons being called out, Pharisees being chastised.

… to 1000’s being feed and the same 1000’s abandoning Jesus.

… to the teachings of Jesus, spoken on hills, and from boats, to large crowds and to smaller groups.

… to the death, burial, and empty tomb.

They were following Jesus.

It is the word used in

Mark 1:16-18

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

In Mark 8:34 Jesus

called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

The women followed … it is a work focused on commitment and discipleship … they followed from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus in Galilee to the empty tomb.

The woman also cared. We see this word used in

Mark 1:13

(Jesus) was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Jesus says in John 12:26

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.

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