38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Personalize the meaning. Respond as God speaks to you through the Scriptures. Ask: How could my life be different today as I respond towhat I’m reading?
The Tomb. In the world the Romans ruled, it would have been dangerous to be associated with people who were crucified. Even to sympathize with the crucified against those doing the crucifying could raise questions, particularly if the crucifiers themselves were not certain about the justice of what they had done. They might decide to handle their own doubts about the rightness of their actions by crucifying anyone who reminded them that the person they executed was a decent human being.
John notes that to this point, Joseph of Arimathea has kept his allegiance to Jesus secret for fear of the Jews, but when Joseph asks Pilate for the body of Jesus in 19:38, he takes a massive risk. To do this is very much to go public with his sympathy for Jesus. Taking a similar risk, going public in a similar way, is Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus by night in chapter 3 and then had spoken in defense of Jesus in chapter 7. Now he brings a very expensive weight of precious ointment for the dead body of the crucified pretender whose contaminated reputation is radioactive, unstable, and therefore deadly (19:39).
These men, Joseph and Nicodemus, have evidently decided that Jesus deserves a decent burial no matter what it costs them. They are probably disgusted with the evil of the Jews who resorted to crucifying this man whom they could not answer. Their moral revulsion at the wickedness of those who were supposed to be “holy to the Lord” makes it so that they cannot stay on the sidelines. They must act. They regard as nothing the risk to their reputations, their standing in the community, and their future safety. Their social standing, to say nothing of the precious ointment, is of no worth compared to the one they will honor. (1)
- What stood out?
- Why was Joseph of Arimathea afraid of the Jews?
- Do you think it was dangerous to still be associated with Jesus? What about today?
So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
End in Prayer