Saturday 03 April 2021

Bible Book:

And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (v. 42)

John 19:38-42 Saturday 3 April 2021

Psalm 4


This account of the burial of Jesus is striking in that the people involved are not his now 11 disciples or the women described in other gospel accounts, but two prominent men, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Joseph appears in all the other gospel narratives and was described as a “good and righteous man” (Luke 23:50) and a member of the religious council. He is though, someone who until now at least, was a secret follower of Jesus, one of a group of people John’s account has already indicated “did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42).

Similarly, we are reminded that Nicodemus, a Pharisee and another member of the council, had “at first come to Jesus by night”  when he came secretly to discuss with Jesus the meaning of being born again (John 3:1-10). Previously people like this, who were not willing to declare their belief publicly, were described as “loving human glory more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:43). However it is now flawed men like these who take the brave step of approaching Pilate, who they knew had just a few hours earlier had condemned to death the man they had been secretly following, to ask for permission to bury the body of Jesus.

We are reminded again that it was the Jewish day of Preparation, the day before a particularly important Sabbath as it was also the Passover festival. It would not be unusual for bodies to be left for days to decay on the cross following a Roman crucifixion, but appropriate burial was and remains an important part of Judaism and the law of Deuteronomy specifically directs that a corpse must not remain all night on the tree but must be buried the same day otherwise the land would be defiled (Deuteronomy 21:23). The two men therefore make haste, take the body, prepare it with an extraordinary amount of burial spices and use a tomb that is nearby.

We began the week with Pilate’s question of Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33). In Nicodemus’ extravagant use of burial spices weighing about 100 pounds (v. 39), something far more expensive than the perfume used by Mary to anoint Jesus’ feet at their meal in Bethany (John 12:3), he is providing for a burial fit for a king. Soon, with events yet to come, will we be ready to answer Pilate’s question for ourselves?

To Ponder:

  • Talking about the processes involved following a death can be difficult and something many of us rarely do. Pray for funeral directors, mortuary technicians, pathologists and others who work to help and support people at times of bereavement.
  • Pray for those who live in societies and countries where it is dangerous to be open about their Christian faith.
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