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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 4 - Light Overcomes Darkness
A - Events From the Arrest to the Burial (John 18:1 - 19:42)
4. The cross and the death of Jesus (John 19:16b-42)

f) Burial of Jesus (John 19:38-42)

JOHN 19:38
38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked of Pilate that he might take away Jesus’ body. Pilate gave him permission. He came therefore and took away his body.

Not all the seventy members of the Council agreed on the sentence passed against Jesus. It appears from recent archaeological finds that sentence would be passed only if there were at least two dissenting voices. But if all consented on the death sentence, that would mean human prejudice against the accused, and show that the Council had fallen into a miscarriage of justice. On this basis, the trial was repeated and the evidence investigated more carefully. Assuming this rule applied in Jesus’ day, it would mean that at least two members opposed the ruling. One was Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple (Matthew 27:57 and Mark 15:43). He was anxious not to lose his seat in the Council or his influence on the nation’s course, thanks to his mature wisdom. Joseph was angry with Caiaphas for his injustice and for running the Council sittings with trickery. Joseph abandoned neutrality and publicly acknowledged his association with Jesus, but this admission came too late, and his testimony was an official rebuttal of the Council’s decision. But then the course of events led to the passing of the sentence to crucify Jesus.

After Jesus’ death, Joseph went to Pilate (he was entitled to do so). Pilate consented to his request, and gave him permission to take down the body of Jesus from the cross for burial.

Thus, Pilate avenged himself once more on the Jews, who would drag executed criminals to the Hinnom valley to be devoured by jackals, and surrounded by burning rubbish. God saved his Son from such shame. He had finished his vocation as the divine sacrifice on the cross. His heavenly Father led Joseph to bury Jesus in a respectable tomb.

JOHN 19:39-42
39 Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred Roman pounds. 40 So they took Jesus’ body, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden. In the garden was a new tomb in which no man had ever yet been laid. 42 Then because of the Jews’ Preparation Day (for the tomb was near at hand) they laid Jesus there.

Suddenly, Nicodemus also stood by the cross. He was the second member to vote against the Council decision. He had earlier tried to nullify the secret judgment passed by the Council against Jesus, and demanded a fairer sitting to verify the facts (7:51). This witness to Jesus arrived, bringing 32 kilograms of precious ointment, as well as grave clothes to wrap round the torn body, and to help Joseph bring down the body and bury it after anointing, a procedure followed by the nobility. It was necessary to speed up the burial process, to complete it before the sixth hour of Friday evening, that is when the Sabbath begins, and when all work is banned. Only a short time was left to them.

The Father of our Lord Jesus led these two men to honor his dead Son, that the promise of Isaiah 53:9 might be fulfilled, that he would be buried with the rich and the noble in a decent grave. To carve out such graves from rock was an expensive matter. So there was no better way to honor Jesus than for Joseph to offer him his own tomb near the site of the crucifixion outside the city walls. There they laid the body of Jesus on a slab of rock without a coffin, wrapped in grave clothes, drenched with ointment and perfume brought by Nicodemus.

Truly, Jesus died; his earthly life ended while a young man of thirty three. He was born to die. No greater love is found than for one to lay down his life for his loved ones.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for dying in our stead. With all believers I love you, because your love saved us from divine wrath and established us in the unity of the Holy Trinity. Receive my life a thanksgiving to you for me to magnify your cross.


  1. What does the burial of Jesus teach us?


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