Luke 23: 55-56 ‘The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment’
Luke 24: 1-2 ‘Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.’
Their gifts were available, yet unused; not needed. He had risen.
Some gifts were used though. As a babyJesus was placed in a borrowed manger that was contained within a cave. Later, as He died, a crucified, badly beaten, tortured Saviour was laid in a borrowed rock hewn tomb. Each of these caves was a generous, available gift. The first went to a powerless child. The second was given to a deceased man. These gifts could not be repaid by recipient. They were freely and lovingly given, without expectation. They were not asked for, but Jesus needed them. He had more need of these gifts than of the Magi gifts that helped during his family’s flight to Egypt. He needed them because He was fully human and being human means that we have need. We must have someone to hold and care for us at two crucial points in life, our birth and our death. We can never repay or give back these gifts. At these moments we need generous gifts. So did Jesus.
On the first day of the week, in early morning, women approached Jesus’ crucified body with prepared spices and perfumes. They wanted to make something beaten and ugly, human and beautiful again. They approach early because they could not wait: their gifts had to be used to anoint and soothe before His body started to stink of decay. They want to give, generously.
But their gifts were not used. His body was never anointed by human hands. Jesus, fully God, had rise.
His body was healed, anointed, and perfumed by the Spirit in preparation of God, the Father, embracing His son again. Some marks did remain. Why? I think to remind us that as long as we are human there will be need for gifts, for someone to care for us and for us to give generously to another who may need to be cared for.
We are designed to both receive and give gifts, gifts of words and time; monies and objects; gifts of affections and love. And some gifts we can’t repay. Like the gift of a mother and father at our birth, or a child or friend who cares for us in age and death. We need the gift of generous unconditional love. That is our design.
And we are also designed to give generously. This is the greatest, the most indescribable gift the baby Jesus points to during Advent: that we can be used by God to give. That is how the women at Jesus’ tomb prepared to give. Their gifts were not used for Jesus’ anointing, but they were not wasted. They lie at the entrance of a tomb waiting to be picked up and used. This is what the women’s gifts are used for. To remind us that we are the spices and perfumes, the anointments for the living. We are His gifts.