Today’s Scripture – April 2, 2015

Mark 15:42-47 (NIV)

It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

The Sabbath would begin at Sundown on Friday, and after that, no work could be done for 24 hours, not even preparing a body for burial. So Joseph, who had a new tomb nearby that he had prepared for himself and his family (Matthew 27:60), went to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body.

Pilate was surprised that Jesus had already died. He had not suffered as long as many who were crucified – some had lasted three or four days before they died. Some have attributed Jesus’ relatively quick death to His weakened condition due to the series of severe beatings and whippings that He had received. But Jesus only needed to suffer on the cross until the work there was done. Then He didn’t just die, He purposefully “gave up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50).

When Pilate had verified that Jesus was dead, he released the body for burial, and Joseph got to work.       Time was passing, and the sun was sinking fast. Normally the bodies of executed criminals received a hasty burial, especially those who had been crucified, and were believed to be cursed by God by being “hung on a tree” (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13). But Joseph, assisted by Nicodemus, who brought along 75 pounds of fragrant embalming compounds (cf. John 19:39-40), wrapped the body carefully in linen cloth, and laid it lovingly in the tomb before rolling the large stone in place across the entrance.

The statement in verse 47 is significant. Some have conjectured that on Sunday morning the women went to the wrong tomb, found it empty, and declared Jesus risen. But there was no mistake. These women to whom Jesus was so dear watched every movement of Joseph and Nicodemus.       They saw them roll the stone in place, and they knew that they would be coming back on Sunday morning at first light, after the Sabbath was over, to complete the job of preparing Jesus body for its final rest; a job that had, out of necessity, been hastily done at the time.       They knew the place, and noted it well so that there would be no mistake when Sunday morning came.

Father, these people really put themselves out there. While many of Jesus’ closest disciples had fled for fear of being caught up in the snare that had been laid for Jesus, these had a devotion to Him that overcame any fear, and they bravely identified themselves as being tied to Him, regardless of the possible consequences.

Even today, Lord, there are some who hide their faith out of fear of those who oppose them. But there are others, strong witnesses, who stand boldly for Jesus, regardless of the potential consequences. Even in the face of loss of property, imprisonment, suffering, and death, they don’t hide, they don’t deny, and they don’t even remain silent. Help me always to belong to that class of Christian, so that Your name is always glorified in my life. Amen.

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