Jesus died around 3:00 pm Friday. The Jewish Sabbath would begin at sundown that day. Time was short.
Normally, bodies of those crucified were left on the cross as prey for the birds, the final humiliation. However, Jews always buried their dead. Crucifixion was a slow death. It often took men days to die. "Since the Sabbath was approaching, it was necessary to speed up the process. Because of the Law (Deut. 21: 22-23), a body was not to remain exposed on a tree [cross] overnight and certainly not on a Sabbath. A person so executed under God's curse and his body if left exposed would defile the land. (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13) "* Breaking the legs sped up the process by causing shock and loss of blood as well as the inability of the victim to push himself up to breathe. John records in John 19: 31-37 that the Jews requested that legs of the 3 on the crosses be broken and their bodies be taken away. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the other 2 men, but "when they came to Jesus, they did not break His legs since they saw that He was already dead. But one of the soldiers pierced His body (just to be sure He was dead)." Why is this significant? He was the spotless Lamb. "For these things happened so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled: Not one of His bones will be broken. Also another Scripture says : They will look at the One they pierced."
It is really amazing how many scriptures prophesied about Jesus' coming and dying and resurrection. It is my understanding that there are around 120 scriptures that foretold of His birth, death, and resurrection. Still, many who saw Him and watched this event occur, went away still unbelieving. Yet Jesus died for them and paid their sin debt just as He did for the thief who died beside Him and the centurion who cried out at the end "Surely this was the Son of God!".
As dark was approaching that Friday afternoon, a man named Joseph came to Pilate and requested the body of Jesus. A request that Pilate granted. Joseph was a rich man, a member of the Sanhedrin, but who did not consent to the death of Jesus. Luke records that he was a "good and righteous man" from Arimathea and was "looking forward to the Kingdom of God". John also records that he was a "secret disciple" for fear of the Jews. Nicodemus, the one who had come to question Jesus by night, also helped Joseph. No longer were these men going to be "secret disciples". A group of women followed, including Mary Magdalene, who sat across from the tomb until sundown. Joseph took down Jesus' body from the cross. He brought 75# of spices to prepare His body for burial, a large and costly amount. Embalming was not done at that time, so the body would be wrapped and soaked in the spices to delay the decaying process. Joseph brought fine linen to wrap the body in as well as the enormous amount of spices. All of this was an act of love and devotion which he now did publicly. He had a personal tomb in a garden, hewn out of a rock that had never been used. In it they gently laid the body of their Savior and Friend and rolled a stone across the entrance. They rested on the Sabbath.
The next day (Saturday) the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate saying "Sir, we remember that while this deceiver was alive, He said 'After three days I will rise again'. Therefore give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may steal Him and tell the people, 'He has been raised from the dead'. Then the last deception will be worse than the first." (Matt. 27: 62-66) Pilate agreed and sent soldiers to not only guard the tomb, but to seal it as well. Most likely a heavy wax seal and cord were adhered to it, so that if broken it could be detected. The guards were to keep it secure. If one were to fall asleep on the job, it was punishable by death.
Isn't it interesting that the disciples had fled, but this group of unbelievers remembered Jesus words "I'll rise again the third day"?
The Sabbath (sundown Friday to sundown Sat.) would constitute the 2nd day of Jesus burial. It was a day of rest for the Jews. The Romans would be guarding the tomb day and night. The disciples were hold up in secrecy behind locked doors, fearing some would come after them. They thought it was all over. Questions about Jesus no doubt filled their minds. The group of women followers was, no doubt, in deep mourning. Those who had spent the most time with Jesus, who knew him best, still didn't get it.
Maybe you, too, have been in church all your life. You've heard 1,000 sermons. You've read the Bible from time to time. You know all the "Bible stories". You know the "talk". Maybe you are even on a church roll somewhere. But you've missed the point. Maybe it has never ever really made sense to you. Or maybe you've never really thought about it. You've been busy making a life, or so you thought. But there has always been something missing. You are successful financially, you have a great family, life is good....but there is still something missing. Or maybe at one time, you walked with the Lord, had a close relationship with Him, and sought to live for Him, but somewhere along the way you got off the track, you turned your back on Him, you don't feel like you could ever call on Him again after all you've done and how far you've strayed. Maybe you feel like Peter must have felt after betraying Jesus, not once but three times, after declaring he would NEVER leave Jesus. If you are in either of these camps or anywhere in between, I want you to know that the story does NOT end here. It is Saturday,
*Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament edition, by John Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck
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