The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken from prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
She on whom the shadow of sin had never rested, was then sitting on a wide cloth spread on the ground, her back propped up with some bundles of mantles, and they rested Jesus' body on her knees, and his head against her breast. She who had borne him, who alone then knew the mystery of his Passion, who had embraced him so many times when living, now embraced him in death. With a mother's bursting heart, she looked on his wounds, pressed his blood-stained cheek against her own again and again, leaving blood-stains on her fair Virgin cheek, while Mary Magdalen embraced his lower limbs and kissed the two wounds in his feet, in which she could see the whitish tendons, the bruised bones and the lacerated flesh where the extracted nails had rubbed out the coagulated blood.
The two noble Jews then left the Mother with her dead, and went down the hill to prepare things for the funeral. The two Roman officers retired to the ranks of the guards. John and the women stood by filled with grief. The common soldiers, used to death and carnage on many a battle-field, took little interest in the scene. The Jews had all retired from the place, fearing they might become unclean by touching the dead, and could not celebrate the remaining days of their great Easter. The officers gave orders that no insults to the dead would be tolerated; the westering sun was nearing the horizon; on its setting the great Easter Sabbath within the Passover would begin, then no work could be done, and all were in a hurry to finish the funeral as soon as possible.
Thus sitting on the grass, the widowed Mother of the Lord held his lifeless form to her bosom, her heart filled with unutterable anguish. There is sorrow too deep for tears; mental sufferings are far more deep and piercing that any bodily pain, and the sorrows of her soul were indescribable. If she could only weep it would relieve her, but she could not. She remembered Simeon's prophecy, " Behold, this child is set for the ruin and the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed." (Luke ii. 35.) The sword of the soul's sorrow, a thousand times more painful, pierced her soul as she looked down on that Body of him whose conception was told her by the Archangel Gabriel; whose birth was celebrated by Angel choirs, whose sorrows, sufferings and death transcended in tremendous pains and tortures the death of any human being who ever died. The double-edged sword of mental sorrows pierced into the very marrow of her soul as she gazed upon him.
John, Longinus, and the women looked on her in her anguish. The women drew near to comfort her. Joseph and Nicodemus had gone down the little hill to prepare the materials for the embalming, where their servants waited for them. Some of the Apostles and disciples were seen coming towards Calvary to be present at the funeral.
The Jews prepared their dead by a kind of embalming, expressed by their Hebrew word chanat, meaning " to be red," like leather which has been tanned or prepared with spices. In the Syro-Chaldaic, the process was called chunetto, in (Greek migma—both meaning prepared with myrrh and aloes, as the Gospel tells us Nicodemus brought. The Egyptians embalmed in three ways described by Herodotus, (Hist, 86-90.) by which the body became dried up. Only the body of Jacob and Joseph were embalmed in Egypt in this way. The Hebrews followed another method of preparing the dead for burial.
Asa, the good king of Juda, 975 years before Christ, was " laid in the bed of roses and flowers which was filled with sweet odors, and diverse kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art." (II, Paralip. xvi. 14) This was the way the rich Jew was prepared before being laid in the tomb of his fathers, and this was the way the Lord was buried by the two rich Jews. Thus were fulfilled the words of the prophet: "For the wickedness of my people have I struck him. And he shall give the ungodly for his burial and the rich for his death." ( Isaias liii. 9.)