Summary of passage: Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Jesus, asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Along with Nicodemus, the two of them prepared Jesus’ body for burial by wrapping it in strips of linen. Jesus was laid in a nearby tomb.
12) Jesus was not abandoned nor did his body decay. Jesus was wrapped in linen, his body rubbed with spices, myrrh and aloes that were expensive. He died with wicked men. He conquered death and sin to overcome the devil.
13) Part personal Question. My answer: Because Jesus was buried when he died so were we so that we may rise again. Jesus was raised from the dead as we will be as well. To be honest, it doesn’t impact my daily life. I prefer to mediate on his resurrection rather than the details of his burial.
Conclusions: I’d never asked myself before why we bury the dead. Why not burn them? Different cultures treat their dead differently so I decided to google. Fascinating. Some of what I discovered is in the End Notes.
End Notes: God used these men to protect the body of Jesus. Jewish custom was to bury the body before sundown and the start of the Sabbath. All indications are that Joseph and Nicodemus did this work themselves instead of slaves. This must have been difficult to remove the bloody body of Jesus from a hanging cross. These 2 men who were religious leaders must have known they were fulfilling prophecy. Can you imagine being in their place? How awesome!
“One of the customs of the Jews in preparing a body for burial is the requirement to remove all foreign matter from the body and to carefully wash it. Joseph and Nicodemus examined His entire body and found broken pieces of thorn all over the head. They saw His bloody, matted hair; the terrible bruising of the face, the areas of beard pulled out, the dry and cracked lips. They turned the body over to see His shoulders and arms are riddled with splinters; each one was removed with care. The back, from the shoulders down, was a bloody open wound from the terrible scourging suffered before the crucifixion. His hands and feet were smashed and bloodied. On the front – just beneath the rib cage – there was a gaping wound made from the spear thrust that confirmed His death.” Taken from Enduring Word.com. Can you imagine?
Jesus could have risen right then. But instead he hung dead on the cross. God’s perfect plan.
The burial of Jesus is so important it’s considered one of the essential components of the gospel itself (1 Corinthians 15:3-4):
· The burial fulfilled the Scripture of Isaiah 53:9 says, “And they made His grave with the wicked”; so that meant the Messiah would be buried in a grave – and He was
· The burial fulfilled the promise, the prediction of Jesus. Jesus said that He, like Jonah, would be buried away for three days (Matthew 12:40), and so it had to be fulfilled
· The burial demonstrated that Jesus was truly dead; it was proof of the glory of the coming resurrection.
· The burial was important because burial spices and preparations protected His holy body from decay; as it was said in Psalm 16:10: You will not allow Your Holy One to see decay
· The burial pushed both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to proclaim their relationship with Jesus in public
· The burial and the days of Jesus in the tomb tested the faith and devotion of the disciples; it made them die a certain kind of death for those days they knew Jesus lay in the tomb
· The burial and the days of Jesus in the tomb proved Jesus defeated not only sin, but also death. The burial and the empty tomb show that Jesus conquered sin and death
· The days in the tomb were important because there was important work for Jesus to do during that time in the tomb. 1 Peter 3:18-20 tells us that Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison; though there isn’t as much explanation on all this as we would like to have, it seems that as the body of Jesus lay lifeless in the tomb, His Spirit went to Hades, the abode of the dead. There He led the faithful dead to heaven, in light of His then-completed work on the cross. He also preached a message of judgment and coming condemnation to the evil spirits that were imprisoned in the depths
· The burial shows he was buried with us, in the humiliation of utter humanness. We are buried with Him – spiritually by faith, ceremonially by baptism. He identified with us; we by faith identify with Him. [Again, summarized from enduring word.com]
The myrrh and aloes were an extravagant amount of money.
Matthew 27:60 tells us that this tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea himself. A rich man like Joseph would probably have a tomb that was carved into solid rock; this tomb was in a garden near the place of crucifixion.
A typical tomb of this type had a small entrance and perhaps one or more compartments where bodies were laid out after being somewhat mummified with spices, ointments, and linen strips. Customarily, the Jews left these bodies alone for a few years until they decayed down to the bones, then the bones were placed in a small stone box known as an ossuary (picture HERE.) The ossuary remained in the tomb with the remains of other family members.
The door to the tomb was typically made of a heavy, circular shaped stone, running in a groove and settled down into a channel, so it could not be moved except by several strong men. This was done to ensure that no one would disturb the remains.
Adam fell in a Garden. And so we are redeemed in one.
Spurgeon points out that the tomb was empty so no one could say Jesus’ body had touched the bones of a prophet and so sprung to life. Every detail recorded was super important to the Jewish people at that time too all would know–Yes, He is King!
So why do we bury the dead? Evidence shows since the beginning of time the dead have been buried mainly to show respect to the dead. Wikipedia has a great article HERE on the history. I think it’s inherent to mankind. It’s like the search for God. Something inside all of us leads us to do what we do like instinct in animals. Abraham purchased a cave and even God laid Moses to rest (article HERE) in Deuteronomy 34:6. Christian burial link HERE Fascinating study if you’re interested. It’s always good to question tradition.