CHRIST’S BURIAL WAS COSTLY:
It cost Joseph and Nicodemus — They gave their time to Jesus.
• They learned about Jesus. Probably in their studies together during the many months following Nicodemus’ first meeting with Jesus, the two friends spent much time in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. There especially was the sacrificial and saving work of the Messiah foretold, and this had been the great theme of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus (John 3:14-21).
• They obeyed Jesus. And in the heart of that great passage is the statement: “And He made His grave with the wicked (thus near the execution and burial grounds of the condemned criminals), but (a better translation in this context than “and”) with the rich man (therefore, a rich man must somehow provide a grave for Him even in these unlikely circumstances) in His death” (Isaiah 53:9).
• Joseph made it his duty to stay in touch with the events. Joseph knew exactly when Jesus died, and was immediately able to rush to Pilate with the request for His body before others even realized He was dead. Mark 15:43-44 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.
• They publicly followed Jesus. Then, while the women watched from a distance, no doubt in amazement, these two respected members of the Sanhedrin gently lowered the body from the cross, wound it in the linen clothes, applied the spices and ointments, laid the body in the tomb, and then departed.
• They paid a high price for his actions. Never, so far as the Biblical record goes, were they ever heard from again, but there can be no doubt that this one act cost them their positions and probably their possessions, and possibly even their lives.
It cost Joseph and Nicodemus — They gave their treasures to Jesus. They decided to assume the obligation of Christ’s burial. Joseph proceeded to purchase the land, cut out the tomb, plant a garden, as Nicodemus purchased the required materials for the burial and hid them there. Then they waited until they could perform that service for the Lord for which they had been born.
There are many mysteries that only the Hand of God could ever explain.
• Why, for example, should he, a rich man of Arimathea (seven miles north of Jerusalem), buy a burial ground in Jerusalem instead of his own hometown? It was customary to be buried either where you were born or where you lived the majority of your life. The Garden Tomb was neither.
• And, especially hard to explain is the location. Why would a wealthy man who had his pick of the city — purchase it in such a place as this? To buy a tomb near a place of execution is strange. To cut an expensive tomb near a spot that would have often rang with the death cries and screams of men being slowly tormented to death on crosses is not a normal choice. Think of what it meant to be adjacent to the hill of Golgotha. Think of a place where day after day there would come the cries of dying criminals and the wails of mourning families? Would you ever pick that as a family burial place?
• Furthermore, it was a brand new tomb, not one in which others of the family had been buried (John 19:41), one that Joseph himself had hewn out in the rock (Matthew 27:60), perhaps not wishing others even to know about its preparation. And as Jewish laws went, no one in Joseph’s family could ever be buried in that tomb because Christ was not in their family. So Joseph gave up that tomb and garden permanently to the Lord.
• Nicodemus had taken the time to prepare all the necessary materials for Christ’s burial. Notice the fact that immediately thereafter came Nicodemus carrying one hundred Roman pounds (a Roman pound was equivalent to twelve ounces) of ointment for the burial (one does not carry even one hundred Roman pounds very far!). John 19.39
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