The Burial of Christ
The apostle John wrote in reference to the piercing of Jesus' side on the cross - "And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe" (John 19:35). John viewed the fact of Jesus' piercing as an important event. Regardless of the physical reason as to why blood and water flowed from His side, John, as an eye-witness, strongly affirms that such took place. He has recorded these truths so that the reader may have faith (cf. 20:30,31). Jesus really did die on the cross; the piercing caused by the spear removed any doubt.

"For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, 'Not one of His bones shall be broken'" (John 19:36; cf. Psa. 34:20). Jesus didn't suffer from a broken bone, which is remarkable considering the beating He took before being crucified and the fact that the other two crucifixion victims suffered broken legs. The bones of the passover lamb were not to be broken (cf. Exo. 12:46; Num. 9:12) and this points to Jesus as being "our Passover" (I Cor. 5:7).

"And again another Scripture says, 'They shall look on Him whom they pierced'" (John 19:37; cf. Zech. 12:10). "After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus" (John 19:38; cf. 12:42,43). Joseph was wealthy, a prominent council member, and a good and just man (cf. Matt. 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50). Up until this point his faith was that of a coward, but on this occasion he courageously approached Pilate with his request.

It was in fulfillment of prophecy that the one who buried Jesus should be rich (cf. Isa. 53:9).

Joseph was not in agreement with those who had sought to put Jesus to death. Joseph was among those who were "waiting for the kingdom of God" (Luke 23:51; which implies that it had not been established yet, unless one is willing to state that Joseph was ignorant of such). A careful study of the New Testament will reveal that the church (i.e., the kingdom of God) was established in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Joseph's waiting would be over in less than two months.

"Pilate marveled that He was already dead" (Mark 15:44). Historians have cited instances where men lived up to a week upon a cross. It was rare for one to die after only six hours. Pilate was obviously unaware that the miraculous events experienced that afternoon happened concurrent with Jesus' death.

After checking with the centurion in charge of the crucifixions, Pilate grants Joseph's request (cf. Mark 15:45).

"And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds" (John 19:39; cf. 3:1). These materials would have been placed in powder form next to the body, under the strips of cloth in which they would wrap Him. One might wonder as to why such a large quantity of these spices was used for the burial process. Likely such a great quantity was not necessary, but these men, being well-to-do, desired to go far beyond reasonable expectations in ministering to the Lord (with the spices and the fine linen they used). It is also possible that some of the substance would have been used to liberally cover the surface on which His body was laid (e.g., II Chr. 16:14).

Jesus' body was wrapped according to the custom of that day (cf. John 19:40). "Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one yet had been laid" (John 19:41). It is significant that John notes that the tomb was new and had not been used before for burial purposes. Thus, there was no other body in the tomb with Jesus'. When Jesus would come forth from the tomb on the third day, it would not be because His body had come in contact with the remains of a prophet (e.g., II Kings 13:21).

"So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby" (John 19:42). It appears that time did not allow Joseph and Nicodemus to carry out all of the traditional activities of a burial. The wording here may indicate that they intended to move Jesus' body elsewhere after the Sabbath and give it a proper burial.

During the last 24 hours of Jesus' life, He went to Gethsemane, Gabbatha, Golgotha, and to the grave. He was laid there by sorrowing loved ones while His enemies celebrated. However, although neither group anticipated what would follow, Jesus would soon rise from the grave and go to glory (cf. Acts 2:33)! May it be understood that Jesus endured this all for us, and may we glorify God accordingly (cf. Col. 3:17).

We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.