STORY OF JESUS 25
In Joseph's Tomb
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Treason against the Roman government was the crime for which the Saviour
was condemned. Persons put to death for this cause were buried in a place set
apart for such criminals.
John shuddered at the thought of having the body of his beloved Master
handled by the unfeeling soldiers, and buried in a dishonored grave. But he saw
no way to prevent it, as he had no influence with Pilate.
At this trying time, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea came to the help
of the disciples. Both of these men were members of the Sanhedrin, and were
acquainted with Pilate. Both were men of wealth and influence. They were
determined that the Saviour's body should have an honorable burial.
Joseph went boldly to Pilate, and begged from him the body of Jesus.
Pilate, after learning that Christ was really dead, granted this request.
While Joseph was gone to Pilate for the Saviour's body, Nicodemus was
making ready for the burial. It was the custom in those times to wrap the bodies
of the dead in linen cloths, with precious ointments and sweet spices. This was
one method of embalming. So Nicodemus brought a costly gift of about a hundred
pounds' weight of myrrh and aloes for the body of Jesus.
The most honored in all Jerusalem could not have been shown more respect
in death. The humble followers of Jesus were astonished to see these wealthy
rulers taking such an interest in the burial of their Master.
The disciples were overwhelmed with sorrow at the death of Christ. They
forgot that He had told them it was to take place. They were without hope.
Neither Joseph nor Nicodemus had openly accepted the Saviour while He was
living. But they had listened to His teachings, and had closely watched every
step of His ministry. Although the disciples had forgotten the Saviour's words
foretelling His death, Joseph and Nicodemus remembered them well. And the scenes
connected with the death of Jesus, which disheartened the disciples, and shook
their faith, only proved to these rulers that He was the true Messiah, and led
them to take their stand firmly as believers in Him.
The help of these rich and honored men was greatly needed at this time.
They could do for their dead Master what it was impossible for the poor
disciples to do.
Gently and reverently they, with their own hands, removed the body of
Christ from the cross. Their tears of sympathy fell fast, as they looked upon
His bruised and torn form.
Joseph owned a new tomb hewn in a rock. He had built it for his own use;
but he now prepared it for Jesus. The body, together with the spices brought by
Nicodemus, was wrapped in a linen sheet, and the Redeemer was borne to the tomb.
Although the Jewish rulers had succeeded in putting Christ to death, they
could not rest easy. They well knew of His mighty power.
Some of them had stood by the grave of Lazarus, and had seen the dead
brought back to life, and they trembled for fear that Christ would Himself rise
from the dead, and again appear before them.
They had heard Him say to the multitude that He had power to lay down His
life and to take it again.
They remembered that He had said, "Destroy this temple, and in three
days I will raise it up" (John 2:19), and they knew that He was speaking of
His own body.
Judas had told them that Christ had said to His disciples on their last
journey to Jerusalem:
"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed
unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to
death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to
crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again." Matthew 20:18, 19.
They now remembered many things He had spoken which foretold His
resurrection. They could not forget these things, however much they desired to
do so. Like their father, the devil, they believed and trembled.
Everything declared to them that Jesus was the Son of God. They could not
sleep, for they were more troubled about Him in death than they had been during
Bent on doing all they could to keep Him in the grave, they asked Pilate
to have the tomb sealed and guarded until the third day. Pilate placed a band of
soldiers at the command of the priests, and said:
"Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they
went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch."
Matthew 27:65, 66.