Saturday 11 April 2020

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 11 April 2020

Psalm: Psalm 31:1-4


It all seemed to be over. After the teaching, preaching, healing, miraculous events and fellowship with a remarkable person, now, after a brutal and unjust death, there was nothing more to do than bury the body with dignity and respect. Jesus had attracted the attention of many but, as his crucifixion had made abundantly clear, it was dangerous to be too supportive of what Jesus said or did. And yet, despite previously being a secret follower of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea now summons up the courage to approach Pilate himself to ask permission to take the dead body and bury it. John says little more about Joseph and it’s the other Gospel writers who give us more details, that he was a rich man (Matthew 27:57) and a respected member of the council (Mark 15:43, Luke 23:50). However, unlike the other three accounts, John makes no mention of the women who had travelled with Jesus preparing his body for burial in the traditional way, wrapping it with spices and ointments. Instead it’s Joseph and his colleague Nicodemus who do this.

As Jesus had been executed by the Roman authorities, his body could have been left on the cross to decompose, or buried in a mass grave along with other convicted criminals. So that he is buried at all in the Jewish tradition is significant, but what is more extraordinary was the extravagant nature of the preparation of the body, with John keen to point out that this was about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes (verse 39). Joseph and Nicodemus also find a new tomb (verse 41) for his body to be placed in, rather than a common grave. This was a burial fit for a king, perhaps again a reference to Pilate’s insistence on calling him “The King of the Jews” (John 19:19-22).

The passion narrative begins and ends in a garden. From betrayal in Gethsemane (John 18:1-2) to what seemed like the end in a garden tomb.  And so we must join his disciples and now wait, and pray, and, perhaps in faith, hope.


To Ponder:

  • Reflect on the journey from Gethsemane to the garden tomb. What impact does this have on you?
  • Pray for those who are bereaved following the loss of friends or family members.
  • Pray for those who support the bereaved, such as undertakers, mortuary workers, cemetery and cremation staff, particularly at this time when so many have died from Covid-19 infection. 
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