Pilate released the body of Jesus to Joseph. Usually the bodies of the executed were not released for burial. Sometimes they hung on the cross to rot, or were thrown into the trash dump. Jesus was released. It was God’s plan. Joseph of Arimathea was in God’s plan. What would have happened to the body of Jesus without this Joseph. God already planed to take care of the body of Jesus.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 23
He Asked for the Body of Jesus (Luke 23:50-56)
By Pastor Delbert Young
He Asked for the Body of Jesus
Scriptures: Philippians 2:12-13, John 19:31, John 19:32-34, Psalms 34:20, Zechariah 12:10, Luke 23:50-52, Matthew 27:57, Luke 23:53, John 19:39-40, Isaiah 53:9, Luke 23:54-56, Matthew 27:66, Matthew 10:32-33, Luke 12:8
We talk a lot about and celebrate the cross, death, and resurrection of Christ and well we should, but the burial of Christ was as divinely directed as any other aspect. It was truly supernatural. His funeral was controlled just as his death and resurrection. The hand of God is woven into the affairs of men as God constantly operates with precision to fulfill his purpose. This means his hand is operating in your life and my life like it or not.
Philippians 2:12-13 …continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is GOD WHO WORKS IN YOU TO WILL AND TO ACT ACCORDING TO HIS GOOD PURPOSE.
Let’s begin with some information John gives in his gospel.
John 19:31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the BODIES LEFT ON THE CROSSES DURING THE SABBATH, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
The show was over. Jesus had given up his spirit and died to fulfill scriptures (Joh 19:28-30), but the two criminals were alive. Death by crucifixion frequently took days. The day of Preparationwas the day lambs were slaughtered and eaten after sundown. The next day, Saturday, was a special Sabbath. What hypocrites! The Jews didn’t want dead bodies defiling the Sabbath, but made a comedy act of executed innocent people! Death could be sped to minutes by taking a huge mallet and smashing the femur allowing massive blood clots to the heart instantly bringing heart failure. They wanted the bodies down. So did God. Unknowingly through them, the hand of God was controlling his purpose even in wicked men. Jesus must to be buried before sundown.
John 19:32-34 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
The soldiers were trained at execution. They killed people. This was what they did. It was easier to shove a spear into the side than beat the legs. The spear must go through the lung and heart to bring this sudden flow of blood and water which gushed out proving death. It was all directed by God and written a thousand years earlier.
Psalms 34:20 He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
Jesus was the Lamb of God and the Passover lamb could have no broken bones (Exo 12:46).
Zechariah 12:10 …They will look on me, the one they have pierced…
Revelation 1:7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, EVEN THOSE WHO PIERCED HIM…
The Messianic scriptures were fulfilled. Christ’s death was confirmed validating his coming resurrection. With Jesus hanging on the cross, proven dead as he bled out, we read from Luke.
Luke 23:50-52 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, HE ASKED FOR JESUS’ BODY.
Matthew 27:57 As evening approached, there came a RICH MAN from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.
This Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin Council. He had not consented to their conviction of Jesus, so the projection by the Jews that all members were in agreement with the execution of Jesus was not true. Once Pilate verified Jesus was dead (Mar 15:44-45) Pilate released the body of Jesus to Joseph. Usually the bodies of the executed were not released for burial. Sometimes they hung on the cross to rot, or were thrown into the trash dump. Jesus was released. It was God’s plan. Joseph of Arimathea was in God’s plan.
From nowhere, not mentioned previously, or after, this Joseph from Arimathea appeared. All four gospel writers tell of him. Joseph was referenced as a “secret disciple” as he feared the Jews (Joh 19:38). Fear was gone and nothing was secret anymore. Remember, Jesus was seen as a despised outlaw. No one was wearing an “I love Jesus” T-shirt, or a WWJD bracelet. In this extremely hostile environment Joseph took a public stand knowing it would likely cost him irreparable damage in his occupation, relationships, and position in society. God’s hand moved in the life of Joseph and he took a stand. Someplace along the way you will be challenged to take a public stand. Will you?
How obvious are we in our hostile environments? Are we secret disciples? What do we fear? How secret are we in our caring for Christ? Would anyone know I’m a Christ Follower by my actions, words, and life? A “Christian” man needed income and was about to take an occupational position around known roughnecks. He was warned by a friend how they’d give him a hard time being he was a Christian, but needing the income, he took the position. About a year later, he saw his friend who asked if they had indeed given him a hard time. The man said, “No. They were nice to me. They never found out I was a Christian.” I fear it’s this way with many. Are you willing to be associated with Jesus? Can you bear the reproach connected with the outlaw Jesus? If you are a Christ Follower, you are expected to bear the reproach. In some countries doing this is life threatening. For now, it’s not this way in America, but if we don’t take a stand it certainly will be. Are you willing to risk your occupation and relationships for Jesus?
Lance, my son, was the student body president at the high school he attended, so he was extremely popular. Every student knew Lance, or knew who he was. It was Homecoming and a gazebo needed to be built for the Homecoming court to walk through. They were going to meet and finish building the night before the homecoming game. Most of them wanted to have a party with drinking while doing it. Lance told them he wouldn’t come to the party. He didn’t drink, but they needed Lance to show them how to assemble the gazebo. They agreed to not have the party until after building the gazebo. Bonnie, Lance’s little sister, our daughter, wanted to go with Lance and did. When they arrived, the party was in full force. Lance told Bonnie to stay in the car, took the supplies, put them down and headed out. About 9 guys with beers or Solo cups stopped and confronted Lance. They had been watching him to see what he would do and asked Lance why he thought he was better than them. Of course, Lance told them this wasn’t the case. They were threatening, but Lance didn’t back down. Several of them were his closes friends and one was a girl he really liked. Lance left. The next day at school some confronted him again saying he hadn’t done what he said he would do. Lance told them he had done what he said. They had not and he was hurt because they chose to party over their relationship with him. The gazebo was not finished for homecoming so Lance got an early out pass and finished the gazebo alone. Everyone knew who finished it. Here is what Lance said. “I never said anything to them about it, but a few came to me and apologized and told me how my stance and follow through impacted them. As a side note, one of the guys who confronted me searched all through the crowd at graduation to find me later that year and told me that my stance that night and how I lived out my values throughout school had made an impact on him and how much he respected me for it. He apologized for the night at the party, shook my hand, and disappeared back into the chaos.” Then Lance wrote me this. “It was because of how you and Mom raised me and taught me about Jesus and how to please him that I had that character. Love you!” Parents your association with Jesus impacts your children and they will impact others. How is your association with outlaw Jesus?
Luke 23:53 Then HE TOOK IT DOWN, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.
John 19:39-40 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
This is one of the most loving passages imaginable. Joseph purchased new linen cloth (Mar 15:46). Nicodemus brought a mixture myrrh and aloes to cover the stench of what would be a decaying body. They went back to the cross, and he, Joseph, took it, the dead body of Jesus, down. He pulled the dead feet and then hands of Jesus over the heads of the nails. Undoubtedly, Joseph became covered with blood, dirt, and filth as he held on to and eased the dead body to the ground and with Nicodemus’ assistance, removed the crown of thorns out of the dead brow (if it remained), washed the dead body of Jesus best they could, wrapped it in linen cloth, and placed it in a tomb. We are told it was a tomb no one had yet been laid. This was to let all know when found empty it wasn’t an accounting error. There were no other bodies or bones to be confused. I can’t help but well up inside when I read and ponder this amazingly tender story. But, where were Peter and John and Andrew and the others? What would have happened to the body of Jesus without Joseph and Nicodemus? God made certain it was properly cared for.
Isaiah 53:9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Isaiah wrote this 750 years earlier. God is directing and controlling with divine precision. Jesuswas assigned a grave with the wicked, but because of Joseph of Arimathea, instead he was with the rich in his death. Unknowingly, Joseph was being directed by God. God directed the funeral of Jesus by directing the Jews, Roman soldiers, Joseph, Nicodemus, and Pilate. God is constantly, ever minute of every day, directing the lives of people accomplishing his pleasure and purpose.
What a funeral! No hymns sung. No prayer prayed. No sermons preached. Yet, it was the most powerful funeral ever. No one was ever buried more lovingly.
Luke 23:54-56 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and SAW THE TOMB AND HOW HIS BODY WAS LAID IN IT. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
Did you know one of the accusations of critics is the women went to the wrong tomb resurrection Sunday? If they did so did the angles. The women saw the tomb and how his body was laid. I suppose they were not totally happy with the job Joseph and Nicodemus did. They made plans to come back with more spices and perfumes after the Sabbath passed. God even planned who would discover the empty tomb.
The chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate requesting a guard for the tomb in case the disciples attempted to still the body of Jesus. Pilate granted the guard.
Matthew 27:66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
There was no way the body of Jesus could have been stolen. Roman guards (plural Mat 28:4, 11) and a Roman seal prevented anyone from tampering with the grave, much less taking the body of Jesus. It was impossible. The chief priests and Pharisees were forced to actually prove the resurrection. Again, God was directing everything. God had the tomb sealed and guarded to prove the resurrection.
Was it worth it to Joseph to risk, or perhaps suffer, the price of associating with Jesus? Today, two thousand years later, we know who Joseph was, what Joseph did occupationally, what Joseph lovingly did for Jesus, and even where Joseph was from. Had he not taken a stand no one would know Joseph ever lived. That’s great, but it’s far bigger than this.
Matthew 10:32-33 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
Was it worth it? You decide. Is it worth it for you? You decide. Jesus obviously acknowledged Joseph. The reward for taking a stand for outlaw Jesus is beyond explanation. It definitely has eternal rewards. Luke wrote it this way.
Luke 12:8 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
What does this mean? It means you will have angelic or supernatural support in life. Is it worth it! The things of this life, the opinions of our peers, the positions we worked to acquire mean nothing when compared to the present and eternal rewards for acknowledging Jesus. By acknowledging Jesus, you will be acknowledged to the Father and the angels of God and with divine precision God will bless your life.
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