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Mark - Who is Christ?
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to MARK
PART 8 - Christ's Passion and Death (Mark 14:1 - 15:47)

20. The Burial of Jesus (Mark 15:42-47)

MARK 15:42-47
42 When evening had now come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, a prominent council member who also himself was looking for the Kingdom of God, came. He boldly went in to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate marveled if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead long. 45 When he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 He bought a linen cloth, and taking him down, wound him in the linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb which had been cut out of a rock. He rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where he was laid.

How did Joseph of Arimathea, the prominent Jewish council member, know so quickly, that Jesus died? Maybe one of the women who attended the crucifixion ran and told him.

But why did she run to a member of the Council, and not to Peter and John? Because this prominent Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus, who had retained his belief, in the hope that Jesus would be proclaimed and treated as the Messiah. Therefore, the women trusted him, and dared to seek his assistance (John 19:38).

How could Joseph honor Jesus, though he had joined in the voting of the council against Jesus? Maybe he was not present when the council convened. Maybe he was present, and he registered a dissenting vote. It is also probable that the old Jewish judgments that a deceiver was not considered as absolutely abandoned from the grace of God were also applicable to Jesus, and therefore the ruling of the seventy was not considered lawful unless two of them had voted for releasing him who was condemned. Maybe Joseph and Nicodemus voted for Jesus’ innocence, giving their required votes so that the execution of the judgment might be lawful (John 19:39).

Joseph as a person of character and distinction to both Jews and Romans went boldly into the tower of Antonia to meet Pilate, the Roman governor, though he knew how much it would affront the chief priests. He neither feared the other members of the council, nor cared about the ritual observance of the Passover, for he who touched a dead body was considered unclean for one week.

Pilate wondered that Jesus was so soon dead. It was not common for persons crucified to expire under 24, or 48 hours, sometimes until the third day. However, Jesus was gentle and sensitive. His body was torn, his loving soul was exhausted by the world’s salvation, hell had attacked him, and the wrath of God had torn him.

Ponder the description of Jesus’ death in (Isaiah 53:5) and you will learn much: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days… He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.”

Pilate was not willing to lengthen the proceedings of this case. He agreed that he should get rid of this matter quickly, which convicted his conscience, having killed someone unlawfully because of pressure from the people. He was pleased to receive a distinguished member of the council of the Jews, which had delivered Jesus to him in the morning and obliged him to crucify him. Pilate delivered the body of Jesus to the hands of those who had complained against him. He sought to ascertain lawfully whether Jesus was yet dead or no, fearing lest he should be imposed upon, and the body should be taken down alive, and revived.

He therefore called the centurion, who assured him officially of his death. Not only the women, but also the centurion testified the historical death of Jesus on the cross.

Here we see the providence of God, in that Joseph of Arimathea had bought for himself a tomb hewn out of a rock close to Jerusalem, though he lived elsewhere. In his love for Jesus, he became united with him, and placed him in his own tomb, as an indication of his high respect and gratitude to him.

Thus, the body of Jesus was not thrown down in the dust, or to the dogs in the wilderness, as other bodies of crucified people were treated, but was laid in a readymade tomb. This indicates that by his atoning death, and bearing the wrath of God, he had given to us the ministry of reconciliation, which God accepted, honoring his slain Son highly. In fact, Joseph was not alone in bringing the body of Jesus down from the cross. Nicodemus, the Jewish expert in the Law, and other pious people hurried to help him. The women were deprived of the last service of love. The formalities of burial were completed quickly, for the following day was the Sabbath, which began after twelve o’clock, that is six o’clock in the evening. On this day, no one was allowed to work or move, under penalty of death.

That same Saturday coincided with the Day of the Passover, as a symbol of the passing of the wrath of God over those who ate the slain lamb. Yet, the true Lamb of God was buried quickly and silently, and rested peacefully in his tomb on Saturday. They sealed the stone of his tomb with the governor’s seals, that none of his followers might be able to steal his body, and all the sorrowful people went back to their houses and wept bitterly on that great day.

PRAYER: O Holy God, we worship you because you prepared all the details for the burial of your beloved Son. You guided Joseph and Nicodemus to confess their love to Jesus so that they did not care about accusation, danger, and insult. Help us not to fear mockers and fanatics, but to testify our love to Jesus everywhere and every time, that all may know that he is the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world. Amen.


  1. What was the wonderful thing in the burial of Jesus?


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