There are some very interesting observations concerning the burial of the Lord Jesus.
1. No one preached a eulogy. 2. Two most unsuspected men buried Him. 3. The body of Jesus intended for a pauper's grave, was laid in a rich man's virgin tomb. 4. No loved ones crying at the Tomb-- but rather went into hiding. 5. Instead, there were soldiers guarding the Tomb.
The Jewish custom was to bury the body the day it died or within 24 hours. Services are held later but no service was held for Jesus-- nor a eulogy given. During the agonizing death of Jesus, the sky grew dark, the earthquake shook the earth and the people that mocked Him were scattered. The crowd was no more. The people ran away and the only people left were the soldiers, who under orders, had to remain at the scene of the cross. The Roman soldiers observed Jesus give up the ghost-- to which they proclaimed, "Truly, this man was the Son of God."
Joseph of Arimathaea went directly to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. He went boldly and Pilate, amazed that Jesus was dead already, called the centurion to verify if Jesus was indeed dead. Once confirmed, Pilate gave permission to bury the body of the Lord.
Joseph was a rich man-- A member of the Sanhedrin and an honorable counselor. He had not consented to the verdict at the religious trial before the Sanhedrin. He waited for the Kingdom of God. He studied the Hebrew prophecies. The Bible tells us that "he was a good man and just" but for "fear of the Jews" never confessed his faith in Christ openly during the years of Christ's ministry.
Nicodemus, (who had before come to Jesus by night in John chapter 3), was also a wealthy man and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes-- about a hundred pound weight. That, even today, would be a fortune! The two men took our Lord's body down, which disqualified them from eating the Passover because they would be considered defiled for touching a dead body. As evening was soon approaching, they quickly wrapped Jesus' body in clean linen strips with the spice mixture. And they laid the Messiah in the virgin tomb.
Our Lord Jesus was born in the poorest of circumstances. The Son of God-- born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes and visited by lowly shepherds. Yet He made His grave with the rich-- as prophesied in the Scriptures.
Isaiah 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Two rich men were very moved that late afternoon, when the Lord died, to show their respect and devotion to Jesus. All the disciples were fearful and went into hiding but yet Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea-- who were once fearful of the Jews-- became bold. These men were learned men-- they studied the Scriptures. They knew the Psalms, Isaiah, Zechariah, etc. Something within their heart changed that day when Jesus was crucified. Did Nicodemus recall his conversation with Jesus? Did the words of Jesus penetrate his heart, "that the Son of man must be lifted up"? Surely, their hearts were changed as they no longer feared the Jews-- the religious leaders-- their own peers.
Our Lord was laid "in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid."
Ordinarily His body (since He was condemned to death) would have been cast into a pauper's grave but that was instead reserved for His betrayer-- greedy Judas Iscariot.
But Jesus our Lord was buried in a rich man's tomb-- a tomb the rich man had purchased for himself and his family-- a tomb that was located in a garden. Our Lord was buried there-- in a garden-- a fitting place for the "Rose of Sharon" and the "Lily of the Valley"-- the "Tender Plant" of Isaiah 53-- and "the Living Water."
Only a couple of women observed, from a distance, where Jesus was laid. The disciples were nowhere to be found.
In contrast, the Sanhedrin went to Pilate to insure that the disciples would not steal Jesus' body from the tomb. They remembered the words of Jesus that He would rise again. It is interesting that the disciples forgot the words of the Lord Jesus-- but the Jewish leaders remembered.
A huge stone was rolled in front of the mouth of the tomb. And the Jewish leaders received a Roman watch with Pilate's permission-- these soldiers were placed right outside the tomb. These Roman soldiers were trained men, disciplined men-- and very fearful of the consequences of falling asleep on duty. Such carelessness would mean death to them.
And as Jesus' body lay silently in the tomb for three days and three nights, Roman guards were outside, guarding the tomb. All over Israel, Jews were celebrating the Passover feast, then the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and then the Sabbath. The disciples of Jesus were in hiding-- in fear wondering what would become of them now that all their hopes were shattered. Remember what they said on the road to Emmaus? "...But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel..." (Luke 25:21). So the disciples were fearful, disappointed and confused-- they did not understand the prophecies of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
Now, early Sunday morning, on the Feast of Firstfruits, "as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week..." a strong angel came down and rolled away the stone. There was an earthquake and the guards fell as dead men-- shaking in fear. If ever there was a time to draw their swords, it would have been at that moment but they were so terrified that they fled away as fast as they could and told the Jewish leaders what had happened. They were the first to witness the resurrection power coming from the grave. And even though those soldiers were "paid off" to keep quiet, they could not. How can one keep silent after witnessing what they saw? Our Savior arose, according to the Scriptures.
Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [meaning the grave]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Isaiah 53:10-12 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
It is interesting to note that though the stone was rolled away and the women ran back to tell the disciples that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, not one of the disciples cried, "I know what happened-- He is risen!" No, instead, they wondered what was going on and according to the account, "their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not." (Luke 24:11)
Peter and John ran to investigate. Luke 24:12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
John saw and believed. John 20:8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus told two of his disciples, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:26-27)
And the Lord appeared to over 500 witnesses after His resurrection and was seen on the earth for forty before His glorious ascension into Heaven.
1Cor 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
The greatest news ever given is that our Lord Jesus-- the beautiful Lord of Glory-- the risen Jewish Messiah lives today! He is the Man in Glory! He ascended unto the Father-- and will remain there until the day when His enemies are made His footstool. Psalm 110:1 declares: "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Israel will not see Him again until they cry, "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD." And yet He will return-- it is prophesied in the Scriptures.
The cry of every Believer in Jesus is "Come quickly, Lord Jesus." He promised to return-- and God always keeps His promises!
Bibliography: See Erling C. Olsen's book on the Gospel of John