Reading for Saturday of Holy Week
Peace be with you!
To bury Jesus, the Son of God, is to admit he is really dead. Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Sanhedrin, goes to Pilate and asks if he can have Jesus’s body. Joseph is also eagerly waiting for the Kingdom of God (Mark 15:43) and was probably not a part of Jesus’s trial, according to Robert H. Stein. Matthew 27:57 calls Joseph a disciple of Jesus, and Luke 23:50 calls him a “good and righteous man.” Joseph is follower of Jesus Christ who was motivated to “protect Israel from violating God’s command in Deuteronomy 21:22-23,” which states that a man who is hung should be buried the same day so that the land God gives Israel by inheritance is not cursed (Stein 2008).
When Joseph asks for Jesus’s body, Pilate is surprised he is already dead since it usually took individuals a day or two to die on the cross (Stein 2008). Pilate sends a messenger to the centurion who was present at Jesus’s crucifixion to make sure he is really dead. When the messenger comes back confirming the report of Jesus’s death, Pilate grants Joseph Jesus’s body to be buried. Pilate shows respect for Jesus Christ by allowing Joseph to give him a proper burial before the Sabbath.
Jesus dies around three in the afternoon, giving Joseph just a few hours before the start of the Sabbath at sundown to get all the preparations done. Preparing for burial included seeking Pilate’s permission to take custody of the body, obtaining a linen cloth, getting Jesus off the cross, cleaning his body, and wrapping him in the cloth before placing him in the tomb. Despite the rushed time frame, it is important to Joseph to give Jesus a proper burial in order to show him respect and honor according to the Jewish tradition.
The fact that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses see Joseph bury Jesus adds to the veracity of the story. There are witnesses to Jesus’s death and burial. No one can argue Jesus is still alive, because Mary Magdalene and Mary can testify he is dead.
This is the darkest moment of all; Jesus’s burial seems to be the final “nail in the coffin” to any hope for Israel’s deliverance. Yes, this is a dark moment. Yet even in the darkest hour, we can see glimmers of light on the horizon. And it is because of that light that we are waiting for Easter morning. And Easter, my friends, is coming tomorrow!
Continue to follow the light. The story is still unfolding. Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for Joseph’s quick thinking and willingness to give Jesus a proper burial. Help us to bury our old selves in the tomb with Jesus as we wait for Easter morning. Thank you for giving us the light, even as we bury Jesus in the tomb. Amen.
Stein, Robert H. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Mark. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2008.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- What are you placing the tomb today? Why?
- What does it mean to you that Jesus died?