What does Matthew 27:61 mean?
ESV: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
NIV: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
NASB: And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
CSB: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated there, facing the tomb.
NLT: Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.
KJV: And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
NKJV: And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
Verse Commentary:
Under Roman law, those who were executed could not be mourned in any kind of public way. In normal circumstances, mourning and burial rites could be loud and involve many people from the community. Groups would gather to publicly grieve the death of loved ones. The time of mourning could extend for several days or longer. Wealthy people could afford to hire professional mourners to cry and wail with them during that period to call as much attention as possible to the loss.

None of that was allowed for Jesus. So far as we can tell, only two women were present when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus laid Jesus' body in Joseph's own tomb and sealed it with a large stone. Mary Magdalene and another Mary, who Mark specifies as "the mother of Joses" (Mark 15:40, 47) sat quietly opposite the tomb and watched. Luke notes that women were there but does not say who they were (Luke 23:55). They now knew where Jesus was buried and planned to return after the Sabbath with more burial spices and ointments for the body (Luke 23:56).
Verse Context:
Matthew 27:57–66 describes Jesus' burial and the watch placed over His tomb. Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy follower of Jesus, asks for Jesus' body. Pilate agrees. Joseph wraps Jesus' body in a clean linen shroud and places it in his own, never-used tomb, which is cut out of the rock in a garden. Jesus' enemies ask Pilate to place Roman soldiers at the grave site. They seek to prevent anyone from stealing His body and claiming He has been resurrected. Pilate agrees. The tomb is sealed. A guard is posted. These events are also seen in Mark 15:42–47, Luke 23:50–56, and John 19:38–42.
Chapter Summary:
When Judas learns Jesus has been condemned, he regrets betraying the Lord. He throws down his ill-gotten money and hangs himself. Jesus is taken to Pilate, who finds nothing to charge Him with. Given the choice, the people shout for the release of a convicted murderer and insist on Jesus' death. Jesus is mocked by a battalion of soldiers and then taken to be crucified. On the cross, He is mocked for not being able to save Himself. After three hours of darkness, Jesus dies. He is buried by a rich follower in a new tomb. This location is tightly guarded to prevent anyone from stealing the body.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 27 begins with an official meeting of the Jewish ruling council. They affirm Jesus' condemnation from the previous night, described in chapter 26. Judas confesses his betrayal and hangs himself. Pilate tries to release Jesus, but the mob shouts for Jesus to be crucified. Jesus is humiliated by Roman soldiers and marched to be executed. On the cross, He is mocked by Jewish religious leaders and others. He dies and is buried in a never-used tomb. Extensive efforts to secure His body from being stolen only serve to prove the miraculous nature of His resurrection, which is detailed in chapter 28.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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