After Christ’s death, if Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both Sanhedrin members, had not come out of the shadows as secret Jesus followers, his body probably would not have been properly buried.
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. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 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. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there (John 19:38-42, ESV).
By removing Jesus’ dead body from the cross, these religious men became unclean, rendering them unworthy to eat the Passover. Passover was an essential part of a devoted Jewish life. This one-act showed where they now placed their faith. They had found the Lamb of God!
On Saturday, we see the difference between Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus compared to the unbelieving religious leaders. The Jewish leaders went to Pilate and asked that a guard seal the tomb. Unlike the disciples, Jesus’ enemies remembered that he promised to rise on the third day!
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard (Matthew 27:62–66, ESV).
Pilate gave the leaders what they wanted. A guard placed the official Roman seal on the stone closing the entrance to the tomb. Nobody could break into the tomb to steal the body. God used the Jewish leaders and the Roman guard to help establish the legitimacy of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Even though his enemies tried to keep the Messiah down, he arose victoriously.
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Eric grew up in the little town of Gibraltar, PA with his grandparents. He met his wife Cheryl while working at Good’s Greenhouse in Bowmansville, PA. He has three adult children and values watching them grow into the people God wants them to be.