In Joseph's Tomb
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
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 His life.
Bent on doing all they could to keep Him
in the grave, they asked Pilate to have the tomb sealed and guarded
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.