Wise and patient God, you are truth. Penetrate my life with truth from your Word. Purify and cleanse me.
Read JOHN 19:31–42
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[a] 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”[b]
The Burial of Jesus
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[c] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Remember persecuted Christians and secret believers around the world, particularly in the Muslim world. What pressures do we face to downplay or keep our faith secret?
Joseph of Arimathea is influential enough to be given an urgent audience with Pilate and to be trusted with the burial of Jesus’ body. Nicodemus is a Pharisee serving on the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, who had come to see Jesus at night.1 Both had kept secret their decision to follow Jesus.
The bitter opposition of the religious leadership to Jesus was well known. There was ‘widespread whispering’ about Jesus among those attending the feast of Tabernacles, whispering because no one dared discuss him publicly.2 The parents of the man born blind are so terrified they won’t even speak for their healed son.3 Even leaders who believe in Jesus are unwilling to confess that faith for fear of being excluded from their worshipping communities of God’s people.4
The bitterness of the opposition makes what Joseph and Nicodemus do here all the more extraordinary: they risk everything to honor Jesus and to do so when there’s nothing left, seemingly, to be gained. So revolted are they by what they’ve seen that they find the courage to honor Jesus in death in a way they hadn’t openly in life.
Taking the body down from the cross, they wrapped it – probably with the help of servants – in strips of linen along with a huge amount of spices. Though rebels were normally dumped in a common grave, Pilate released the body to them, further evidence that he didn’t believe Jesus was guilty. As reverently as possible, given the Sabbath to come, the body was laid to rest in a new tomb. It is a real death, as the separation of clot and serum in verses 34 and 35 proves, and a real burial. And we await the dawn.
This act of loving service is a bold statement of faith. How might we undertake similarly bold acts of loving service to honor Jesus?
Lord, may my life today demonstrate the beauty and power of your love, care, and wisdom. May these qualities touch others through me.
1 John 3:1,2; see also John 7:50–52 2 John 7:12,13 3 John 9:20–23 4 John 12:42,43