Joseph places Jesus in the tomb

A man came to the Lutheran Church and asked to see the pastor. “Pastor,” he said, “My dog died and I would like a Christian burial for him.” The Pastor said, “I’m sorry to hear about your dog, but we Lutherans don’t do funerals for dogs. You might try t … More

Burial

Since Jesus died about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and Jewish law forbid any burial on the Sabbath which began at sunset (v. 42). God had a higly respected and wealthy member of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea (a secret  disciple of Jesus (John 19:38) ready to take care of the body of Jesus (Matt. 27;57) (v. 43). He was assisted by Nicodemus, also a member of the counsel (John 19:38-42). It does not appear that these two men suddenly decided to bury Jesus because what they did demanded much preparation. Historical  records state that frequently the bodies of criminals were never buried but were simply taken down and left for the vultures.

When Joseph went to Pilate for permission to get the body of Jesus, Pilate couldn’t believe that He was already dead (vv. 44-45). It was not unusual for criminals to hang for days on the cross before they died. In some cases the victims died of starvation rather than their wounds. This is only more proof that Jesus laid down His life and it wasn’t taken from Him.

Joseph took His body down from the cross and wrapped it with strips of linen cloth which was the Jewish manner of burying (vv 46-47). Then he took Jesus to a tomb that was prepared for his own burial. It has been said that Joseph was the man who gave Jesus a tomb when He was dead, but was silent when He was alive. It is still true today that man tends to provide a good burial for people when they are dead but fail to give them any help when they are alive. There is a certain tragedy about Joseph. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and yet we have no hint that he spoke one word in Jesus’ favor or intervened in any way on his behalf while He was alive.

Application

If my Christian witness ever endangers my reputation, I need to remember Joseph. Today he is remembered with admiration but how many other members of the Jewish Sanhedrin can you name?

Mark 15:42-47 (English Standard Version)

And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

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