Jesus Was Dead by Pastor Carl W. Mann, II
John 19:38-42 (KJV) “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”
Jesus was dead, and His disciples were having difficulty accepting that fact! Just a few short 3 and one-half years previously, when there seemed to be absolutely no hope for Israel, or the world for that matter, a “Bright Star” appeared in Galilee proclaiming that God had not forgotten His people. This “Bright Star,” like the “Bethlehem Star,” made His Presence known for just a short time, then seemed to disappear into the darkness. It just couldn’t be true – Jesus was dead!
A few of the disciples stayed close to the death of Jesus. Perhaps they did so out of love for Jesus, or perhaps it was due to a sense of duty or guilt. NONE of the disciples stood up for Jesus during His Trial, Torment, and Termination – well, except for Peter. However, when Peter was faced with embarrassment and the injuring of his pride, he denied that he was either acquainted or associated with Jesus. But, he did make a true confession, Matthew 26:74 (KJV) “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew” (Emphasis Mine). IF Peter had really “known the man,” he never would have denied Him!
There was something about the death of Jesus that promoted the emergence of the hidden courage of men like Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus. Both had been “secret” disciples of Jesus prior to His death. Scripture recorded the reason that both were “secret disciples,” they were fearful of what others (Jewish leaders and friends) would think. These men obviously had come to believe the Word that Jesus taught, and they had come to believe that He was the Messiah; however, they had not “discovered” the courage to manifest their faith in Jesus until He was dead!
It was prophesied that Jesus would be buried with “the rich:” Isaiah 53:9 (KJV) “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” (Emphasis Mine).
When Joseph of Arimathaea stepped forth to claim the body of Jesus, he had to produce proof that he had the means to properly “dispose” of His body so that Pilate could be rid of this “Jewish Mess” that had even unsettled his sleep. While Joseph mustered the courage to manifest His love for Jesus, little did he know that the Holy Spirit was promoting him to fulfill Scriptural prophecy. He was only able to do this after Jesus was dead!
Joseph had the financial means to prepare both the Body of Jesus, and the Burial of Jesus in a style that befit the Son of God. Joseph brought “an hundred pound weight” of a “mixture of myrrh and aloes” to wrap in the burial clothes of Jesus. This aloe was an Eastern odiferous wood that was pulverized and mixed with the pungent myrrh to ward off the stench that normally accompanied the decomposition of rotting flesh. The aloe that was used with Jesus was worth its weight in gold, and the myrrh was associated with royalty.
Joseph brought 75 pounds (“an hundred pound weight” = 1,200 ounces) of the fragrant mixture. Seven (7) is “God’s Number” presenting “Perfection.” Five (5) is “God’s Number” presenting “Grace.” Little did Joseph know that the Holy Spirit would prompt him to deliver another wonderful “sign” that God’s will was being accomplished. You see, the amount of “mixture” that Joseph brought was more than was needed to wrap in the graveclothes of Jesus. There would have been “more than enough” to be placed in the sepulcher to surround the Body of Jesus. After all, Jesus is the “more than enough” Lord Who is the presentation of “Perfect Grace!”
- The “myrrh and aloes” remind us of the royal fragrance of the King in Psalm 45:8 (KJV) “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.”
- The “myrrh and aloes” remind us of the frankincense and myrrh that was presented to Jesus by the wise men from the East.
- The “myrrh and aloes” remind us of the fragrant ointment that was poured upon Jesus as an act of love by Mary, the sister of Lazarus.
Wrapping this mixture in the burial clothes of Jesus was fitting; for, He was: Isaiah 53:5 (KJV) “… wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
When Jesus was Born into this world, He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and was laid in a manger made of stone. When Jesus was Buried, He was wrapped in grave clothes and was laid in a mausoleum made of stone.
Jesus was dead, and Joseph and Nicodemus were no longer ashamed to be identified with Jesus. They surely must have wished that they had exhibited their love and loyalty when he was alive! I wonder what they thought as they made their way home through the winding streets of Jerusalem. Jesus was dead and life seemed to go on as if He had not been born; and, it was apparent that very few were disturbed that He was dead!
Joseph and Nicodemus could not find the Apostles because they had scattered and were hiding because they were afraid that the Jewish leaders would come after them next. Jesus was dead, and their lives had been turned upside down. Where could they go to find encouragement? To whom could they go that could provide the comfort they needed?
Their journey home must have been emotionally longer than their journey to Jerusalem. The reality of Jesus’ crucifixion overshadowed their trip to Jerusalem; however, there remained the possibility of God’s intervention, or the potential of a Messianic Miracle that Jesus would perform to deliver Himself, and Israel, from Roman bondage. Their journey to Jerusalem would have been filled with anticipation. Their return journey home would have been wrought with anxiety and grief, because Jesus was dead!
Every time I read the Scripture setting for today’s blog, my heart breaks for Joseph and Nicodemus. All they could see was the fact that Jesus was dead! They did not “know” what you and I do – “Sunday” was coming!