Friday, April 06, 2007

Jesus' Burial


Text: Luke 23: 50-56

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

23:55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

There are four sections in these verses we should consider:
I. The Person of Joseph
II. The Actions of Joseph
III. The Day of Preparation.
IV. The Preparation of the Women

I. The Person of Joseph (v.50-51)

a. A member of the Council, the Sanhedrin
b. Disagreed with the Council’s decision
c. A good and upright man
d. Come from a Jewish town, Arimathea
e. Waiting for the kingdom of God

This shows that even in the darkest moment, in the most hopeless moment,
God still have his people around.

The person of Joseph shows a Godly pious Jew, even among the Sanhedrin.

II. The Actions of Joseph (v.52-53)

a. He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body
It must have taken Joseph a lot of courage to approach Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor for permission to remove the body. Often bodies of criminals were left hanging on the cross until they rotted away.

b. Took Jesus body down and wrapped it in linen cloth
Joseph treated the body with respect. This is unusual since Jesus was condemned and crucified because he was judged a blasphemer against God. This shows that Joseph believed in Jesus’ innocence. God will always have his witness for his people.

c. Placed the body in an new tomb
What is even more unique is that Joseph placed Jesus’ body in an unused tomb. Probably a tomb he has reserved for himself. Criminals are often buried in an unmarked mass grave. It is high honour to be buried in a new tomb.

Holes in the limestone cliffs are often used for burial. A body is left there for a year to decompose. After a year, the bones and other remains were placed in an ossuary while the tomb was reused.

The Actions of Joseph honours Jesus’ body

III. The Day of Preparation. (v.54)

a. Sabbath was about to begin
According to Jewish customs the body must be buried by sundown.
Deu. 21:22-23
“If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.”

This means that Joseph had only three hours to bury Jesus’ body ( 3pm to sundown).

b. Jesus enters his Sabbath rest
This Sabbath rest marks the transition between the old and the new. It is the most important event in human history.

This Day of preparation is the day that God prepares the greatest good for his creation: renewal, restoration and re-creation. This will be accomplished after the Sabbath rest. That is why this Friday will be forever called Good Friday.

IV. The Preparation of the Women (v.55-56)

a. The women followed Joseph to see where the tomb is
b. The women observed Sabbath rest. They are obedient to the Law
c. The women prepared spices and perfumes for the body

These women had followed Jesus from the beginning of his ministry until now. Later they will witness the thrilling climax. At this moment, they are also in preparation.

They will be witnesses for Jesus from the old to the new; from pre-resurrection to post-resurrection.


The burial of Jesus marks the end of the old era, the old covenant. After a day of Sabbath rest, a new era begins. A new covenant begins. Renewal. Restoration. Re-creation.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous alwyn said...

i think you have Alan Lewis' Between Cross & Resurrection, right? Don't u think that was a great book? I loved the first part when he extols us to just LISTEN to the story of death, burial and nothingness, to re-feel the emptiness of the tomb.

There'll be no Good Friday like that first good friday. have a blessed one.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

No, there will never be a Good Friday like that first. Jesus has died and was buried before sundown. It is finished, the atonement part. Jesus' suffering is over and He enters His Sabbath rest. The Day of Preparation is over. The days of preparation when God prepares for renewal, restoration, and re-creation is also over. After the Sabbath, a new era begins with the resurrection of the Christ.

That is why this day is always good, the Day of Preparation. And there will always be a good Friday because of God incarnate for humanity's sake.

8:58 PM  

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