Walking in Truth Devotional Update
The Burial of Jesus
(Mat 27:57-66; Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56; Jn 19:31-42)
He who had created the world out of nothing, who had stooped to fashion Adam’s clay, and had breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, was dead. The Lord had suffered every indignity that mankind could devise. He had taken on Satan and his hosts of Hell. He had paid the terrible penalty for our sins on the terrible Roman cross. Now He was dead and, being dead, required a tomb.
The rulers of the Jews had planned to have Jesus’ body thrown into the open burial pits of Gehenna, south of the city, since it was the custom to dispose of the victims of crucifixion. But God would not have it to be. In Isaiah 53:9, the prophet Isaiah wrote about a sinless servant (the Messiah) being put to death with the wicked and buried with the rich” (Isa. 53:9). Jesus was put to death along with two criminals but was buried in a tomb owned by a wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, as explained in the texts for this article. Don’t you think that it was remarkable that a prophet 700 years before Christ, foretold that the Lord would be buried with “the rich.” But as the prophet also declared that, God “Declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:10).
The burial of Jesus is a matter of supreme importance because it shows that He died. The Lord knew there would be some who would deny that Jesus died, but only swooned away (appearing to be dead). Through the providence of God, the Father, there were two influential and respected men who could testify to the fact that Jesus was dead. One of those men was Joseph of Arimathea who was an influential Jew of “honorable estate” (Mk. 15:43), who “asked for the body of Jesus.” And Pilate, the Roman governor, for reasons not explained in the biblical text, “commanded it to be given up” (Mt. 27:58). The other man was Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin and was mentioned in three places in the Gospel of John : He first visits Jesus one night to discuss Jesus’ teachings ( John 3:1–21 ). We find Nicodemus assisting Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’ burial. Certainly, the position of these two men should carry much weight regarding the question as to whether Jesus was dead when they buried Him.
It is an interesting fact that God had on hand a Joseph to provide protection for the Lord when He was born to the virgin Mary, who was the husband of Mary, and a Joseph to provide protection for Him when He was buried. One Joseph was a carpenter; the other was a counselor. One was poor; the other was prosperous. Both men were described as “just” (Matt. 1:19; Luke 23:50). Both appeared for a moment on the sacred page and then disappeared into obscurity.
Matthew said it was Joseph’s “own new tomb” (27:60). The word translated “new” here is kainos, which means “freshly made,” so Matthew was saying that the tomb was unused, undefiled by any other dead body. Matthew simply said that Joseph wrapped the body “in a clean linen cloth” (27:59). John added other details, telling how Joseph’s colleague Nicodemus brought a large amount of myrrh and aloes, aromatic spices used for burying the dead (John 19:39). Because of the impending sabbath, haste characterized all that was done. A partial embalmment was all that time allowed. The stone was rolled in place and the men left.
The Sanhedrin’s Predicament (27:62-66)
The chief priests and Pharisees rushed off to Pilate and urged “that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day.” They offered the explanation of what might happen if the tomb were not secured: the disciples might under cover of night raid the tomb, steal the body, and spread the story of a resurrection. “So, the last error shall be worse than the first,” the religious leaders said. Pilate saw their point. “Ye have a watch [guard],” he said (27:65). So, off the leaders went, armed with a seal for the sepulcher and soldiers to keep intruders away. No one was going to tamper with that tomb.
Apparently, those evil men of the Sanhedrin judged the Lord’s disciples to be as devious and crafty as they were. However, what they did not know was the fact that the disciples were so thoroughly demoralized that they were incapable of such a scheme. In their state of mind, they could never have carried out that kind of plan.
It appeared that Satan had won the battle. Jesus was dead and buried. People settled down to the daily routine of their lives. The Lord’s disciples hid themselves. The women prepared for completing the embalming. The soldiers paced up and down to pass the time. The lifeless body of the Lord lay still and cold in the tomb.
Hell watched hoping the predictions that Christ would rise from the dead were not true. From heaven the angels watched and waited also.