Luke 23:56
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(56) They returned, and prepared spices and ointments.—This seems at first inconsistent with their “buying” spices after the Sabbath was over (Luke 24:1). Possibly, we have two groups of women—the two Maries and “Joanna and the others” (Luke 24:10)—taking part in the same work; possibly, what they did on the Friday afternoon or evening was not enough, and it was necessary to buy more spices as soon as shops were open on Saturday evening.

Rested the sabbath day.—It is noticeable that this is the only record in the Gospels of that memorable Sabbath. Can we picture to ourselves how it was spent by those who had taken part in the great drama of the previous day;—Caiaphas and the priests officiating in the Temple services of that day, after their hurried Passover, just in time to fulfil the bare letter of the law, on the previous afternoon; the crowds that had mocked and scoffed on Golgotha crowding the courts of the Temple, or attending in the synagogues of Hebrew or Hellenistic Jews; scribes and Pharisees preaching sermons on the history and meaning of the Passover, and connecting it with the hope of a fresh deliverance for Israel? And the disciples, where were they? scattered each to his own lodging, or meeting in the guest-chamber where they had eaten their Paschal supper, or, as that was apparently a new room to them (Luke 22:8-9), in some other inn or lodging in the city, or its suburbs? On that Sabbath, John and Peter must have met, and the penitent must have found in his friend’s love the pledge and earnest of his Lord’s forgiveness; and the Twelve and the Seventy must, in groups of twos or threes, have mourned over the failure of their hopes; and the women have comforted themselves with the thought that they could at least show their reverence for the Lord they loved as they had never shown it before; and Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathæa have rested with satisfaction in the thought that they could honour a dead prophet without the danger that had attached to honouring a living one, or have reproached themselves for the cowardice which had kept them from any open confession till it was too late, and mourned over the irrevocable past. The records are silent, but the imagination which turns the dead chronicles of history into a living drama has here, within due limits, legitimate scope for action. May we go a step yet further, and think of what was then being accomplished behind the veil, of the descent into Hades and the triumph over Death, the soul of the robber in the rest of Paradise, and the good news proclaimed to “the spirits in prison” (1Peter 3:19)? If we dare not fill up the gap with the legends of the Apocryphal Gospel that bears the name of Nicodemus, we may, at least, venture to dwell reverently on the hints that Scripture actually gives.

23:50-56 Many, though they do not make any show in outward profession, yet, like Joseph of Arimathea, will be far more ready to do real service, when there is occasion, than others who make a greater noise. Christ was buried in haste, because the sabbath drew on. Weeping must not hinder sowing. Though they were in tears for the death of their Lord, yet they must prepare to keep holy the sabbath. When the sabbath draws on, there must be preparation. Our worldly affairs must be so ordered, that they may not hinder us from our sabbath work; and our holy affections so stirred up, that they may carry us on in it. In whatever business we engage, or however our hearts may be affected, let us never fail to get ready for, and to keep holy, the day of sacred rest, which is the Lord's day.See the Matthew 27:57-61 notes; Mark 15:42-47 notes. Lu 23:47-56. Signs and Circumstances Following His Death—His Burial.

(See on [1739]Mt 27:51-56; [1740]Mt 27:62-66; and [1741]Joh 19:31-42).

Ver. 23:56. See Poole on "Luke 23:55" And they returned,.... To the city, and to their own houses, or to some one of them;

and prepared spices and ointments; for the anointing, and embalming the body of Christ, called by the Jews the spices of the dead; see the note on Mark 16:1

and rested the sabbath day, according to the commandment, in Exodus 20:8 not knowing as yet the abolition of it, with the rest of the ceremonial law; and therefore, though they had bought and prepared the spices and ointments, they did not carry them to the sepulchre to anoint the body with them, till the sabbath was over; for this was forbidden to be done on a sabbath day. It is asked (f),

"what is that thing that is lawful to be done to a living man, and is forbidden a dead man? It is said, , "this is anointing".''

Though elsewhere (g) this

"is allowed of; for so runs one of their traditions; they do all things necessary for the dead, (i.e. on a sabbath day,) "they anoint", and wash him, only they may not move a limb of him.''

But how he could be anointed, and washed, without a limb being moved, is not very easy to say, as his foot, or hand, or eye brows, which are the parts one of their commentators instances in (h).

(f) T. Hieros. Sahbat. fol. 12. 2.((g) Misn. Sabbat. c. 23, sect. 5. (h) Bartenora in ib.

And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 23:56. κατὰ τὴν ἐντολήν: they respected the Sabbath law as commonly understood. The purchase of spices and ointments is viewed by some as a proof that the day of Christ’s crucifixion was an ordinary working day.56. they returned] As the sunset was now rapidly approaching, they must have hurried home to complete their preparations before the Sabbath began.

prepared spices and ointments] The spices are dry, the ‘perfumes’ liquid. They wished to complete the imperfect embalming of the body which Joseph and Nicodemus had hastily begun. Comp. 2 Chronicles 16:14. They had to purchase the spices (Mark 16:1). St Matthew alone relates the circumstances under which the Jews obtained leave to place a watch over the sepulchre, and to seal the stone, Matthew 27:62-66.

and rested] This clause is closely connected with the next chapter,

“And during the Sabbath day they rested...but on the first day of the week, &c.”Luke 23:56. Ἡτοίμασαν, they prepared) They had their home in Galilee; Luke 23:49. The office they rendered to Him is the greater on that account, as being rendered away from home, and attended with greater cost and trouble. [Thou hereby dost perceive truly unwearied piety (affection) and assiduity springing from faith; which faith, however, itself already underwent a strange eclipse in those excellent souls.—Harm., p. 583.]—ἀρώματα, spices) which are dry.—μῦρα, ointments) which are liquid.—Σάββατον, the Sabbath) The rest appointed to be observed on the Sabbath was more obligatory than the rest connected with the feast. [Christ’s rest in the sepulchre claimed to itself this whole Sabbath, which is on that very account most worthy of attentive consideration. The things which at that time took place in the kingdom of the invisible world, will benefit believers in no ordinary degree, so long as there shall remain aught of them, nay, indeed to all eternity.—V. g. Most excellent effects truly took place, during the calm repose of this Sabbath, in those souls which, though timid, were yet choice and precious, nay, indeed in the Saviour Himself. 1 Peter 3:18-19; Acts 2:24, et seqq.—Harm., p. 583.]Returned (ὑποστρέψασαι)

This word occurs thirty-two times in Luke, and only three times in the rest of the New Testament. It is a significant fact that, reckoning the aggregate space occupied by the four Gospels, nearly one-sixth of the whole amount is occupied with the account of the twenty-four hours beginning with the last supper and ending with the burial of Jesus. There is no day in all Bible history narrated with the fulness of that day. If we possessed the whole life of Christ, written with the same detail, the record would occupy one hundred and eighty volumes as large as the whole Bible.

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