7744 - Burial
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Through the gift and obedience of one man, the body of Jesus had an honorable resting place, but only for a few days.
Jesus was dead. Who was going to care for the body?
Listen to Luke 23:50-56 which answers this question.
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.
Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.
It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
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.
Two men who had not been in the crowd who followed Jesus stepped forth. One of them was a man called Joseph from Arimathea. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a good and upright man who had not agreed to the actions and decision of the council majority. This assures us that the death sentence for Jesus had not been an unanimous decision.
The gospels tell us Joseph was secretly a disciple of Jesus. He was a man who was looking for the kingdom of God. He had not openly declared his beliefs about Jesus for fear of the Jews with whom he was closely linked.
The present circumstances brought out boldness in Joseph and he went before Pilate and asked permission to remove the body from the place of death and give him a burial. Pilate gave his permission.
Another man, who was a Pharisee, called Nicodemus, also was embolden to take care of the body of Jesus. This is the same man who earlier had come to Jesus by night and inquired of him how a man could be born again. Jesus had kindled a warm spot in Nicodemus that night, as evidenced by his speaking out on one occasion to his unbelieving Jewish associates asking, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” He had faced their harsh opposition at that time.
And on this late afternoon, after the death of Jesus, Nicodemus comes with about a hundred pounds of spices to prepare the body of Jesus.
He joined Joseph in taking the body of Jesus and they bound it in linen cloths along with the spices as was the custom in that day.
They then placed the body of Jesus in a new tomb in which no body had yet been placed. This tomb belonged to Joseph himself, and had been chiseled into the rock, yet he was willing for it to be the resting place of Jesus. The Sabbath was soon to begin so they must hurry.
When all was in order, the two went out of the tomb and rolled a great stone to close the entrance. Then they left.
It was no secret where Jesus was buried. The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee had followed Joseph and observed the tomb. Then they went home and prepared additional spices and perfumes to be placed upon the body after the Sabbath. This was an act of respect and devotion.
Matthew tells us the Pharisees went to Pilate on the Sabbath, which was a clear violation of their own law. This indicates how fearful they were that something was going to go wrong and spoil their plan for getting rid of Jesus. They went to Pilate to make sure the tomb was guarded until the third day.
They remembered that Jesus had said that after three days I will rise again. Although they did not believe Jesus, they certainly did not want to have the disciples of Jesus take his body away and then claim that he had been raised from the dead. They tried to take every precaution that his body would remain in the tomb.
Pilate told them to place their own guard on the tomb, so they did so. They also sealed the stone to keep anyone out who would want to come and steal the body.
These Jewish leaders did not believe what Jesus had taught and said. They certainly did not count on the awesome power of the Son of God to rise again, and to fulfill all he had said would come to pass.