The Tomb and Burial
Matt Messner Luke 23:50-54
Jesus was dead. It seemed impossible. No one expected this. Jesus…executed? Relief.
He was innocent, pure, and so loving. But it looks like evil has won.
There is the overwhelming SHOCK of grief. Jesus had brought people back from death, and now He was dead? 33 years old – so young. The Roman machine had brutally taken another life.
What was there to do now? They had been so close to establishing a new kingdom of peace, but now His followers were hiding, fearing prosecution.
The Romans preferred to leave the crucified criminals on crosses, to rot, and to be consumed by the birds as a brutal image of what happens when one challenges the state.
The Jews believed this to be a fate reserved for those who are cursed by God (Deut. 28:26).
But Jesus was absorbing the CURSE, of sin. The curse that had afflicted us all as a result of an incident with a serpent and a man named Adam and a woman named Eve. It was our inheritance.
The wages of sin is death, and that price had been fully absorbed by the Messiah, yet no one understood this.
On that day, hope was lost.
No one had planned for this moment. This wasn’t a typical or anticipated event.
Now Jesus the Messiah is left there…untouchable…finished.
So, (Luke 23:50-)
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council (Sanhedrin), 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 himself 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.
Joseph of Arimathea:
This man steps up and intervenes. He was a wealthy man.
A member of the council (the Sanhedrin – the Jewish ruling council)
A disciple according to John’s Gospel, and a secret follower of Jesus.
Nicodemus, a Pharisee, goes with him, according to John’s gospel. They get some tools and they bring down the cross and pry the nails out of his hands and feet. His blood is on their hands, literally and spiritually. They have never done anything like this before. They wash him and wrap him in a clean cloth. They carry him to a new tomb, one purchased and owned by Joseph. They bring 75 lbs of embalming spices. It is difficult work. But what they are doing is the right thing to do and it is an act of love.
During our times of need, and our times of grief, and our moments of confusion, it is easy to forget to do good. His blood is on our hands, but that should not stop us. Shame should not stop us. Guilt should not stop us. There is work to do – a labor of love.
Tonight, as you reflect on His sacrifice, be reminded that painful and pain-filled times are the best opportunities to do good. When you don’t know what is happening around you, do the next right thing.
In the darkest moments of discouragement, choose to do good.
Choose to worship Jesus. Choose to serve. Choose to love.
Thanks to Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus is not left on the cross. He is laid to rest in a tomb.
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
This seems like an overreaction. But so was the crucifixion.
There is confusion and fear, from the religious leaders. They remember what Jesus had taught, but they refuse to believe.
So they say, “Lock the tomb.” Guard it. Eliminate the threat. Jesus had always been a threat to their way of life.
Jesus is destined to be forgotten. The disciples believed that when Jesus died, all hope was lost.
Hope is a locked tomb that is impossible to open.
And this is where this chapter of the story ends. And at this point, it is a tragedy that shows how cruel we can be, and how desperately we need, salvation.