The Burial of Jesus

(Matthew 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 26:50-56; John 19:38-42)

On the Friday afternoon that Jesus died, not all of the Jewish leaders were happy to see Him dead. One of them was a rich man named Joseph, from the town of Arimathea; he had been a secret disciple of Jesus and had not helped plan his death. He went to the governor Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly so he called for a soldier to ask if Jesus was already dead. When he found out that He was dead, he gave orders for the body of Jesus to be given to Joseph. Another Jewish leader named Nicodemus, who also believe in Jesus, brought spices to bury with the body of Jesus. They took the body of Jesus down from the cross and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth together with the spices, for this is the way that Jews buried people.

Joseph had a tomb in a garden near where Jesus was crucified, so they took the body there. The tomb was a grave that looked like a cave; it had been cut in the side of a rock cliff. They put his body in the tomb and rolled a giant rock against the doorway to close it off. The women who had come from Galilee followed them to the tomb and watched them bury the body. Then they went home and started preparing spices and ointments to put with the body. The next day was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, and they rested that day like the Law of Moses commanded.

But on that same Saturday the Jewish leaders went to Pilate. They told him, "Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive He said, 'After three days I will rise to life.' So, command for the tomb to be guarded well until after three days. His disciples might come and steal His body and tell the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' Then that lie will be even worse than before." Pilate said, "Take some soldiers and go guard the tomb the best way you know." So they went to the tomb and guarded it by putting a wax seal on the rock covering the doorway and leaving the soldiers to stand watch.

So Jesus was dead, buried, and His body guarded. His enemies thought that this was the end. But they were wrong; it was only the beginning. We number our years from the time of Jesus because of what happened the next day.

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