Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter : Jesus is buried in a Tomb   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible
Story

Chapter Forty-three:

Jesus is Buried in a Tomb



AND WHEN EVENING HAD COME

     The three hours of darkness over the land of Jerusalem, on
that Wednesday of the 14th of Nisan (in the year 30 A.D.) had
been mysteriously foreboding, even scary. At the end of it all,
Jesus had been slain by the spear from a soldier. Those there,
from the scribes and Pharisees and elders of the people, walked
away smiling to themselves and to each other. They could not have
cared less what happened to Jesus' dead body. They of all people
were certainly not doing to apply the law of Moses, which said
that the body of a dead person hung on a tree or stake, should
not remain on it all night, but should be taken down on the same
day they were placed on the tree or wooden stake, before the
night came, and buried (Deut. 21: 22, 23). Those religious
leaders and elders who were happy to see Jesus dead, went their
way, and as far as they were concerned, Jesus' body could rot off
the cross and be devoured by the birds of the air and the wild
beasts and dogs of the city of Jerusalem.

     As for Jesus' disciples, we know from the Gospel accounts
and what was to transpire, as we shall soon see, they also went
their way, with a downcast heart, a sad, grieved, desolate, and
dejected mind.  They felt utterly crushed, troubled and
despairing. Even Jesus' close inner circle of eleven disciples
felt defeated and spiritually forsaken. They could not understand
the events that had just taken place over the last night and
into the late afternoon of this 14th day of Nisan. It would seem
even they had no plans or were not giving it much thought if at
all any, as to what would happen to the body of Jesus, now
hanging dead on the cross.
     Yes, all but a few of Jesus' disciples left that cold place
of death. All that is but a few women from Galilee, Mary
Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses. They felt they had to
stay, even if it was at a distance. They were sure that some of
Jesus' disciples would come and take away His body before
nightfall. They wanted to see where Jesus would be taken.
     A half hour passed, and no one returned to take Jesus down
from the cross. Then and hour went by, and still no one came for
Jesus.  Then an hour and a half, then two hours, and still no
disciple of had returned.
     By this time, it was being whispered around among Jesus'
followers in Jerusalem, that no disciple had claimed the body of
Jesus.  Finally someone decided he had to do something about this
situation of Jesus still hanging on the cross, alone, with all of
His close disciples oblivious it seemed, even to be thinking they
should claim Jesus' body. Perhaps many thought that with Mary,
Jesus' mother, being there, and no doubt some of her other
children (you will remember in some of the past chapters, we saw
that Jesus did have brothers and sister....well half brothers and
sister, we would say, for Joseph, Mary's husband was not the
father of Jesus, but God the Father in heaven was), it would
be they who would have claimed Jesus' body. Whatever was the
thoughts of Christ's disciples at this time, it is clear from the
Gospel writers that no one was going to do anything about taking
Jesus down from the cross and laying Him to rest in a tomb. 
     So it was, that finally one man was going to come forward to
ask for the body of Jesus from the governor Pilate. He was not
one of Jesus' close disciples, but it is said of him that he was
a disciple.

     Time had passed quickly since Jesus had been slain. Matthew
and Mark record that it was now "evening." Matthew says, "When it
was evening...." Mark puts it this way, "And when evening had
come....."
     If we research ALL the verses in the New Testament where the
word "evening" is used, and we let the New Testament interpret
itself, without putting any additional ideas of man into the
truth of it all, we see that the New Testament interprets for us
that "evening" is NOT BEFORE the TWELFTH hour as the Jews then
reckoned time, or 5 p.m to 6 p.m. for us. Evening, as interpreted
by the New Testament, did not arrive until the twelfth hour had
finished. Evening then was AFTER 6 p.m.

     This all makes sense and adds up to the fact that all of
Jesus' disciples had left the area where He was now dead on the
cross, and none were coming back to reclaim and remove His body.
It would have taken a few hours or more for the word to get
around that no one was claiming Jesus' body, not even His closest
eleven disciples or His immediate family members. 

     It was now "evening" but Mark adds these additional words,
"And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation,
that is the day before Sabbath...."

     Let us remember that the Sabbath talked about here is NOT
the weekly Sabbath, but the Sabbath of the 15th day of Nisan, a
Thursday, the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, in the
year 30 A.D. when all this took palce. And the Jews were indeed
preparing, putting out leaven from their homes (many had already
done so as we saw that it was a custom for Pharisee following
Jews to start putting leaven out at the beginning of the 14th
day, and getting ready for this Sabbath of the 15th (again I
remind you that the Pharisee Jews were preparing to observe the
Passover supper at the beginning of the 15th, as they do to this
very day).
     Many, thinking that a Sabbath begins at sunset, or when the
evening first starts, will have a question as to why Mark wrote
it the way he did, that evening HAD come, but it was preparation,
the day BEFORE this coming Sabbath. Well it may all be answered
when we understand that a large part of the Jews in Jesus' day
(and still even in our day) did not count the Sabbath as STARTING
until the first STARS appeared in the heavens.
     Understanding this, we can see that evening could well have
come, that is the time after 6 p.m. but still be the preparation
day, for the Sabbath that was yet to arrive when the stars came
out.

THE MEN WHO CLAIMED THE BODY OF JESUS

     I said "A" man finally came forward and asked Pilate for the
body of Jesus. Actually according to the Gospel of John there
were TWO men, but it seems the one man was the main one who
started the process and was the one who went to Pilate. The
second man was Nicodemus! Yes, the same Nicodemus that came to
Jesus by night, to tells Him that he and many other religious
leaders KNEW He was from God (John chapter 3).

     The man who went before Pilate to request the body of Jesus
was a man called Joseph. From all that the Gospel writers have to
say about this man, we can list these things:

     1. He was from a town in Arimathea. The Bible Dictionaries
     say it was situated NW of Jerusalem, in the hill country of
     Ephraim.
     2. He was a rich man.
     3. He owned an empty tomb in the Jerusalem area, in which no
     person had been put to rest in. In other words the tomb had
     never been used as a burial grave.
     4. It is said he looked for the coming of the Kingdom of
     God.
     5. He was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin council.
     6. He was said to be a righteous man, who had NOT consented
     to the Sanhedrin's purpose and plans and deeds to kill
     Jesus.
     7. It is also related to us that he was one of Jesus'
     disciples, but kept it under cover. Did not relate this in a
     public way, because of fear of the Jews. He had not till now
     stood up to be counted as we say. 

     But now, with no person coming forward from among Jesus'
disciples or immediate family, and as time had reached the
evening, and the Sabbath of the 15th day was soon to begin,
Joseph, says, Mark, TOOK COURAGE and went to Pilate to request
that he be granted Jesus' body. Joseph had obviously also talked
to Nicodemus about the urgent situation for someone to claim
Jesus' body, and Nicodemus would help out, as we shall shortly
see.

JOSEPH BEFORE PILATE

     There stood Joseph, in the palace of Pilate, waiting for the
governor to grant permission for him to come before his presence
and ask his question. Joseph was nervous, ringing his hands,
being a little fidgety, his heart beating faster every minute he
had to wait. He knew that by doing this action and if he was
granted the body of Jesus, that all the Sanhedrin and all Judea
would know the truth of him being a disciple of Jesus Christ. But
keeping that fact hidden for so long a time....well now he
thought, it was time to come clean, to come out in the open. It
was as he thought the very least he could do, to ask for Jesus'
body and lay it in a tomb of his that was empty and had never
been used. Joseph knew God was wanting him to do this, especially
as not one other person was making any move to request if they
could take Jesus down from the cross and bury Him.

     Joseph was nervous yes, but courage had finally come to him.
He knew God was with him.
     Pilate summoned Joseph to appear before him. With a firm
upper lip and courage in his heart, Joseph walked into Pilate's
presence.
     "What can I do for you," Pilate said to Joseph. "Please,
governor, I request that you give me permission to take down
Jesus from the cross and bury him, after our custom of the Jews."
     Pilate looked somewhat puzzled. Said nothing for a few
seconds. Then said words to the effect that everyone present knew
he was shocked to hear that Jesus was already dead. Pilate was
not even thinking about any laws of the Jews, or thinking very
much about what had taken place on Golgotha that day. He was used
to the fact that some people continued to live hanging on a cross
for a few days or even longer, before they died. No one had said
anything to him about a soldier taking a spear and thrusting it
into Jesus' side and so putting an end to His life.    

     So now with Joseph standing before him and requesting Jesus'
body, Pilate was realizing that Joseph was saying that Jesus was
dead.
     But it all still sounded a little strange to him, so Pilate
called in the centurion that was in charge of keeping watch over
the three men who had been taken to Golgotha to be crucified.
     "Centurion," asked Pilate, "has this Jesus man been dead for
somewhat of a time already?"
     "Yes, indeed he has, governor, Jesus has been dead for a
while now," replied the centurion to Pilate.

     Pilate now looked back at Joseph, and said, "Very well then.
You may have the body of Jesus and bury it according to your
customs."
     
     Joseph sighed a sigh of relief, silently gave thanks to God,
and quickly walked out of Pilate's palace. Waiting outside for
him was Nicodemus. Joseph told him that the request had been
granted, and both men hurried as fast as their legs would go to
the place called Golgotha, where Jesus was hanging lifelessly on
His cross.

JESUS IS BURIED

     Joseph was doing his part in all this by providing a tomb
for Jesus. Nicodemus,  would do his part by bringing along with
him, a mixture of myrrh and aloes, to help preserve to some
degree the torn and broken flesh of Jesus' body. It was not a
small amount either that Nicodemus brought, it was about one
hundred pounds in weight, a considerable large amount. It is
possible Nicodemus had servant help to carry all this mixture of
myrrh and aloes. 

     The two men soon arrived at the cross upon which Jesus hung.
The two women, both having the name Mary, were still watching
over Jesus, but from a distance. They knew Joseph and Nicodemus,
and were so relieved to finally see that men were coming to take
Jesus down from the cross.
     Joseph and Nicodemus soon pulled out the nails from Jesus'
hands and feet. Nicodemus then got busy putting the mixture of
myrrh and aloes into all the wounds of Jesus' body. When that was
done, Joseph was busy wrapping Jesus' arms, legs, body, and even
the head, with long cloth bandage type rolls. This was how the
Jews buried their dead, certainly not with a "shroud" of one
piece cloth draped over the body. Remember when Jesus raised
Lazarus from the dead, and when Lazarus came out of the tomb,
Jesus told people to unwrap him, because he could not unwrap
himself, as his hands had been wrapped. Lazarus could walk,
because Jesus called to him and told him to come out of the tomb.
So we know the legs were wrapped individually.
     Jesus' dead body was wrapped like Lazarus' body had been
wrapped.  And Joseph with Nicodemus, were quickly off to rest
Jesus in the tomb owned by Joseph. The tomb was quite close at
hand we are told. Actually Jesus was crucified in a garden type
place on Golgotha. Joseph had probably chosen that stop in that
garden, for his resting place, upon his death, and hence had that
tomb hewn out of a rock within that garden. 
     The two ladies who had been standing by, at a distance, ever
since Jesus had been hung up on the cross, followed Joseph and
Nicodemus, and they saw where they laid Jesus.
     After Christ was placed in the tomb, Joseph had a huge
massive rock rolled in front of the entrance. This would indicate
that Joseph and Nicodemus were not alone, but had either friends,
or servants with them, as two men alone could probably not roll a
huge stone, unless of course the entrance to the tomb was much
smaller than we imagine.

     By the time all this was done, and Jesus was in the tomb,
Luke records this, "It was Preparation, and Sabbath drew on"
(Luke 23: 54 KJV).
     Just about everyone has missed how the Greek reads in this
verse.  The words "drew on" are, in the Greek, in the IMPERFECT
tense. The imperfect tense in the New Testament Greek, is an
action that has ALREADY taken place but is ALSO  CONTINUING TO
TAKE PLACE.  What Luke actually said was "...and Sabbath HAD
COME AND WAS CONTINUING TO COME!

     Luke did say it was "preparation" - yes, Joseph had started
all this action at evening, when evening had come. That is when
he went to Pilate to request he be given the body of Christ, and
the Sabbath of the 15th day was yet to arrive (Jews reckoning the
start of the Sabbath when the stars appeared). But by the time he
and Nicodemus put Jesus in the tomb and rolled a rock in front of
the entrance, the Sabbath had already come and was continuing to
come.
     Stop and think. It was evening  (not earlier than 6 p.m.)
when Joseph went to Pilate. By the time he and Nicodemus went to
Golgotha, took Jesus from off the cross, wrapped Him up (which
was not just placing a one piece cloth over His body) and placed
Him in the tomb, it could well have been between 8 and 9 p.m.
     It was the early hours of the 15th day Sabbath, the annual
Sabbath of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when
Jesus was placed in the tomb. He had previously told people that
He would be three days and three night in the heart of the earth,
the tomb, and would then rise again (Mat.12: 40). Three days and
three nights after being place in the tomb, in the first hours of
the 15th Sabbath, which was a Wednesday evening in our
understanding of time today, Jesus would rise again. And so it
was, for Mark records for us, "Now when He rose early on the
first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdaline...."
(Mark 16: 9). The first hours of the first day of the week, as
God and the Jews count days, is the first hours of what we call
Saturday evening. Jesus was resurrected to immortal life, within
the first hours of the first day of the week. I shall have more
to say on that when we arrive at that section of the Gospels.

     The two ladies from Galilee, saw where they put Jesus to
rest. They were so pleased they had waited near the cross of
Jesus, and saw all that Joseph and Nicodemus had done, especially
where they could find Jesus, for they had by this time determined
between themselves, that they would buy and prepare spices after
that 15th day Sabbath was over (which was a Thursday), buy and
prepare them on the Friday, rest on the weekly Sabbath (our
Saturday), and then come back to the tomb very early on the
morning of the first day of the week (our Sunday) and anoint
Jesus' body with the spices. How they were going to roll away the
massive stone that now covered the entrance to the tomb, they
just never gave it a thought, for they were too exited in knowing
where they had laid Jesus, the one they loved so much.

THE PRIESTS AND PHARISEES PLAN MORE EVIL WORK

     It was not long after Joseph and Nicodemus had placed Jesus
in Joseph's tomb that word got around to the members of the
Sanhedrin and chief priests and Pharisees, what the two men had
done. They were soon gathering together, even in that night of
the now 15th day of Nisan, to determine where they would go from
this point, for they now realized, at least some of Jesus'
followers were not about to "go away" and forget about this man
called they believed was the Son of God. These conniving,
conspiring men were once more together in secret to plan their
next move, in making sure the disciples of Jesus would be halted
and stopped in whatever work they were going to do with the dead
Jesus.

     Those men of the dark, would go very early in the morning,
just after sun up, to Pilate. They stood before the governor and
said to him, "Sir, we now remember how this Messiah imposter,
said while still alive, 'After three days I will rise again.'
Therefore we beseech you, and request, that you order the tomb to
be made secure until at least the third day from last night when
he was placed in it. We want you to order this be done in case
his disciples go to the tomb and steal away his body, and so go
around telling the people that he did rise from the dead as he
said he would. And if they do this, the last fraud will be worse
than the first fraud."

     Pilate thought for a moment, and to keep himself on the good
side of those Jewish leaders, whom he knew had great influence
with the people, and did not want any riot to take place with the
people, he said to them, "Alright, take a guard of soldiers; go,
make the tomb as secure as you can."

     So off they happily went, and they put a cement like
substance between the tomb entrance and the stone rolled in front
of it, to seal it up tight. And they set soldiers around the tomb
to keep anyone from trying to enter the tomb and seal away Jesus'
body.
     They left, feeling they had now fully and completely sealed
the fate of Jesus, and with that, the fate of all His disciples.
Finally and at last, once and for all, they thought, they were
rid of this Messiah imposter and His disciples would soon
disappear into the forest and fade away (Mat.27: 57-66; Mark 15:
42-47; Luke 23: 50-56; John 19: 38-42).

              .................................

Written February 2003


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