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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Matt 27:57-61 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. (Also See Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)

Jesus died at the ninth hour, or three o'clock in the afternoon, on Friday, as time is reckoned today. A new day was to begin at six P.M., which was the Passover Sabbath Day. It was a sin in the eyes of God for the bodies of those crucified to be left hanging on the Sabbath Day. Therefore, when even was come, between the times of three and six, the bodies of Jesus and the two malefactors had to be removed from their crucifixion crosses and buried. What happened to the bodies of the two thieves is not recorded, but in all four gospels, a man named Joseph came to take the body of Jesus and give it a proper burial. Notice how Joseph is described by these gospel writers. All say that he came from a city named Arimathaea, the exact location of which is unknown. However, some biblical geographic experts place this city in the hills northwest of Jerusalem. He was a rich man and a disciple of Jesus (See Matt. 27:57). John adds that he was Jesus' disciple secretly for fear of the Jews (John 19:38), and as a believing follower of Christ, he also waited for the kingdom of God (See Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50). He was an honorable counselor (See Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50), meaning that he was now, or had been, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, and he was a good man, and a just, who had not consented to the counsel and deed of them (Luke 23:50:51), meaning that He had not consented to the charge of blasphemy or to the death of Jesus as demanded by the Jewish leaders.

Continuing to speak of Joseph, Matthew and Luke wrote that he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus (Matt. 27:38; Luke 23:52). Mark tells us in a more compassionate manner that he went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus (Mark 15:43), while John simply says that he besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus (John 19:38). Pilate, at first, asked one of the guards if Jesus was dead Mark 44-45). Confirming that, all four gospel writers tell us that Pilate consented to allow Joseph to take the body down from the cross and give it a proper burial. The lesson text says that Joseph wrapped the body of Jesus in a clean linen cloth, Mark adds that it was made of fine linen (Mark 15:46). John wrote that, prior to wrapping the body of Jesus in this fine linen, a man named Nicodemus ...brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight, which was also wound inside the linen, next to the body of Jesus, as the manner of the Jews is to bury (John 19:39-40).

It is well to note at this time that Nicodemus was a Pharisee who was also a ruler of the Jews, a member of the Sanhedrin who came to Jesus' defense when He appeared before this council (See John 7:51). It was Nicodemus who, in order that his actions would not be known to the Jewish rulers, came secretly to Jesus to learn about His miracles and the message of salvation that He taught. Jesus told him that, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (See John 3:1-21). Like Joseph, Nicodemus also became a disciple of Christ Jesus, but both did so secretly for fear of the Jewish religious leaders.

After wrapping the body of Jesus in the spice-filled linen cloth, Joseph carried it to, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock. It was a new sepulchre wherein never man before was laid (See Luke 23:53; John 19:41). After placing the body of Jesus in the tomb, Joseph rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. It was still being the day of preparation, the last few hours of the Friday before the beginning of the Sabbath day. Women, namely Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses, ...which came with Him (Jesus) from Galilee, had followed and observed the burial of Jesus. Because of their love for Him, and being overcome with grief and sorrow, they remained sitting over against the sepulchre, and afterwards, returned, and prepared spices and ointments. No mention is made of Mary, the mother of our Lord, who was probably being comforted by the apostle John.