As I reflect on the weight of today, Good Friday, my mind has continually gone back to the burial of Jesus. I had the privilege of having ample study time this morning and began to seek out the Scriptures (and www.biblehub.com) in a search for details on the burial of Christ.
Joseph, a very common name, not only was this the name of Jesus’ father, but the name of the man who had the honor of burying the Savior of the world. The scripture verses containing this account are found in Matthew 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47, and John 19:38-42. Below is my quick summary of what was recorded in all of these books the night Jesus died.
On Friday evening (The Day of Preparation), Joseph of Arimathea (A rich Sanhedrin man and secret disciple), went to Pilate boldly asking for the body of Jesus in order to give Him the proper Jewish burial before the Sabbath. Before giving an answer, Pilate summoned the Centurion to confirm the death of Jesus and he returned with the confirmation. Then, Pilate gave Joseph permission. Nicodemus (A pharisee/ruler of the Jews) had learned from Jesus to be born again (John 3:1-21). He also joined Joseph by bringing 75lbs. of myrrh and aloes. Joseph provided the fine linens. They took the body of Christ and wrap Him in the linen clothes with the fragrant spices (As was the Jewish custom). Joseph had a new tomb in the garden nearby and there were no other options, so they took Jesus’ body and placed him in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb, which was cut out of a rock. They rolled a great stone against the tomb as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary watched.
What an amazing opportunity and sacrifice to provide his tomb, his grave, his resting place for Jesus. As we approach this Easter weekend, this is a reminder of the importance of surrendering our lives to Jesus. Joseph gave his grave to Jesus and Jesus defeated death for him. Joseph had faith that Jesus’ life was more important than his own and that Christ was worth staking his own life and future on. Are we willing to stake our looming death on Jesus’ life? Joseph knew the grave would await him one day, but his hope and confidence in the cross and the resurrection did not end with an occupied tomb, but with the gift of salvation and victory.
Furthermore, Joseph and Nicodemus were part of the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus. If Christ was left on the cross, people would have said that He was taken away by the disciples, an animal, etc. However, these men provided the location for the miracle to take place. On top of that the Pharisees had Pilate set a seal on the stone and guard it (Matthew 27:62-66). Which means that ironically enough, these religious men did on the Sabbath.
A commentary brings up the point that the Lord used His enemies to prove His authenticity because had the tomb been guarded by the ones who loved Jesus, it may have been said that they pretended to close the tomb. (Barnes)
To seal a tomb was known as sepulchre. They would secure a large rock and place the seal of the ruler on the stone. This is also seen in Daniel 6:17 when Daniel was thrown into the Lion’s den and the guards sealed him off. Human escape would have been impossible. (Barnes) But we must remember that this is our God! This is the miracle for salvation. It is by grace we are saved through faith.
I don’t know what you believe, or what today means to you, but I know with full confidence that Joseph of Arimathea gave up his grave for Jesus, and received a far greater reward. Are we willing to give up our lives of death and defeat by surrendering to the only one who saves, Jesus?
If you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him for the dead, you will be saved. - Romans 10:9
Friends, do not wait. He suffered greatly in order that we could have life and relationship with Him forever. If you have not confessed that Jesus is Lord and believed that His death on the cross that Good Friday and resurrection was personally for you, do it now. Don’t hesitate.
Jesus took excruciating beatings, had a crown of thorns shoved into his head, suffered lashes across his back, was forced to carry His own cross, had nails pierced through his hands and feet, was dehydrated, and humiliated. And that was just physically, He carried the weight of every sin, every evil thought, every fear, and every pain. He died a brutal death for criminals, when He never committed even one sin in His heart or His actions.
If He could do all of that and then raise Himself back to life, I am fully confident that He can forgive anything that you or I have done. His death and resurrection prove that our sins, however great, are no match for His victory.
Happy Good Friday,