"Dwell on The Death of Jesus"
Tomorrow is Easter, and we are probably, in our minds, pushing past today and thinking about the joyous celebration that will take place tomorrow commemorating the resurrection of Jesus.
But wait for a moment, lets not rush to the pinnacle of the Holy week drama to quickly. We would do well to remember that the people we read about in the Bible lived all this beautiful and broken drama out one verse at a time. They couldn't skip ahead to the next chapter. They didn't know the end of the story. For each and every one of them that woke that Saturday morning so long ago, one singular incontrovertible, devastating truth confronted them- Jesus was dead and buried, his ministry seemingly ended. The tomb was sealed, hope was gone, and Jesus' corpse lay decomposing in the earth.
Why should we bother thinking about Jesus' final moments on the cross and about those who buried him? One answer is that there would be several false accounts that would crop up over the next five centuries, accounts which deny either the death or the resurrection of Jesus.
It is essential to our faith that we know for certain that Jesus was really dead. That is why they buried him. These Ancient Near eastern people were not overtly superstitious; they knew when someone was truly dead, and they knew what to do with a dead body. You buried it. Immediately. Joseph and Nicodemus went to great personal trouble and expense to honor Jesus in this final heart wrenching demonstration of devotion. Though they did not stand for him in life, they now owned him publicly following his death. They personally prepared his body in haste so as to get his corpse into the tomb before sundown according to traditional practice. These men intended to go back later and remove Jesus' bones so that they might be placed into an ossuary (bone box) and be given the final treatment that a proper Jewish burial of this age required. They were never afforded the opportunity to go back later and gather up the bones of Jesus. And the really cool part is that everyone since that fateful morning knows why!
"Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph."