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Jesus’ Burial

(Mt 27:57-61; Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56; Jn 19:38-42)

The Romans did not bury the corpses of the crucified criminals. They would leave them on the ground and let animals and birds eat them. The Jewish law demanded the burial of the body on the same day (Deut 21:22-23). So, Jesus’ supporters needed permission from Pilate to bury his body. Since Jesus was from Galilee and the disciples were hiding and could not afford to pay a fitting burial within a few hours, two secret admirers of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, offered generous contributions. They did not support Jesus in public before, so as to keep their membership in the Sanhedrin and to save their reputation among the Jewish leaders. Often, we do not help a person in need when alive. However, the prompt contributions of these two are praiseworthy.

“There came Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council who was himself waiting for the Kingdom of God, and boldly went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (Mk 15:43). Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin who visited Jesus at night (Jn 3:1-21) and supported him in the Sanhedrin (Jn 7:50- 51). He helped Joseph of Arimathea in burying Jesus and provided “a jar of myrrh mixed with aloes, about a hundred pounds” (Jn 19:39). Joseph gave his unused tomb for the burial. Joseph and Nicodemus took the body and bound it in linen cloths with the spices according to the Jewish custom and laid it in the tomb. They did this in a hurry because they had to do everything before the beginning of the Passover Sabbath at 6:00 pm. So, they lacked time to actually anoint Jesus’ body. The women disciples decided to do that immediately after the Sabbath. “Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance of the tomb” (Mt 27:60-61).

Joseph of Arimathea contributed his valuable tomb which no one had used. That could help to prove Jesus’ resurrection. If anyone had found the remains of a dead body in Jesus’ tomb after his resurrection, that could have caused doubts about his resurrection. Nicodemus donated spices for the customary embalming of Jesus’ body and helped Joseph with the burial.


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