John 19:38-42

John 19:38-42 … There’s a great deal to learn in each passage of Scripture. In these few verses, we meet Joseph of Arimathea, who was so fearful of the opinions of others that he kept his faith in Jesus a secret. We should observe two things about that disclosure, first his own reluctance to publicly acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and second the oppressive public pressure that would cause a man to keep his trust in Jesus a secret. Nicodemus, the member of the Sanhedrin who had come to Jesus at night (John 3) and who had spoken up for Him at a council meeting (John 7:51), came as well. It seems certain that neither had voted for  the execution of  Jesus in the meeting of the Sanhedrin, because it’s clear that their present motivation is love for the Master, now displayed openly as they retrieved His body from the executioners. We learn also that they buried him in the “manner of the Jews,” which was a tedious wrapping in linen strips saturated with perfumes to mask the odor of decay.

From the other Gospels, we learn that the garden and the tomb were the property of Joseph of Arimathea, newly prepared for his own family use. A Jewish tomb of the time consisted of a cave with a shelf with a shallow indentation for the body. At a much later time, when decay was complete, the bones would be put into a preserving bone box and the “shelf” reused for another family member. That was the efficient process for burial. A very heavy round stone, like a wagon wheel, was used to seal the tomb. That’s the last we hear of these two men, but it seems certain that this experience and the events yet to unfold will change them forever.

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