|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
19:38-42 Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple of Christ in secret. Disciples should openly own themselves; yet some, who in lesser trials have been fearful, in greater have been courageous. When God has work to do, he can find out such as are proper to do it. The embalming was done by Nicodemus, a secret friend to Christ, though not his constant follower. That grace which at first is like a bruised reed, may afterward resemble a strong cedar. Hereby these two rich men showed the value they had for Christ's person and doctrine, and that it was not lessened by the reproach of the cross. We must do our duty as the present day and opportunity are, and leave it to God to fulfil his promises in his own way and his own time. The grave of Jesus was appointed with the wicked, as was the case of those who suffered as criminals; but he was with the rich in his death, as prophesied, Isa 53:9; these two circumstances it was very unlikely should ever be united in the same person. He was buried in a new sepulchre; therefore it could not be said that it was not he, but some other that rose. We also are here taught not to be particular as to the place of our burial. He was buried in the sepulchre next at hand. Here is the Sun of Righteousness set for a while, to rise again in greater glory, and then to set no more.
Verse 40. - They took therefore - i.e. Nicodemus and Joseph - the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen clothes with the spices, as is the manner of the Jews to bury. The synoptists specially mention a linen cloth (σίνδων), which they wound around it. It would seem probable, from what is afterwards said, that John wished to discriminate and affirm both processes (see John 20:7). The Jews' method differed from the Egyptians' embalming process. The latter removed all the viscera; and, by long baking and other processes, rendered the remaining shell of the corpse incorruptible and almost imperishable. The Jews' process of sepulture differed from the Roman cremation, and is emphasized. Importance was attached to a splendid funeral (Luke 16:22); and this costly interment was not without its deep significance.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then took they the body of Jesus,.... It being taken down from the cross, and carried to the designed place of interment; they, Joseph and Nicodemus, either themselves, or by their servants, took the body;
and wound it in linen clothes; or "swathed", or "wrapped it in linen"; rolled it about the body many times, as was the custom of the eastern nations to do; this was what Joseph prepared:
with the spices; which they either wrapped up with the linen, or strowed over the body when it was wound up; these Nicodemus brought;
as the manner of the Jews is to bury; both was usual with them; both to wind up the dead in linen; hence R. Jonathan, alluding to this custom, when R. Isai was taken, and others would have delivered him, said, , "let the dead be wrapped in his own linen (d)"; and also to bury them with spices; hence we read of "the spices of the dead" in a Jewish canon (e):
"they do not say a blessing over a lamp, nor over the spices of idolaters; nor over a lamp, nor over , "the spices of the dead":''
the use of which, Bartenora on the place says, was to drive away an ungrateful smell. The wrapping up the body of Christ in a fine linen cloth, was a token of his purity and innocence; and significative of that pure and spotless righteousness he had now brought in: the strewing it with spices may denote the fragrancy of Christ's death to Jehovah the Father, in whose sight it was precious, and whose sacrifice to him is of a sweet smelling savour; and also to all sensible sinners, to whom a crucified Christ is precious; since by his death sin is expiated, the law fulfilled, justice satisfied, reconciliation made, security from condemnation obtained, and death is abolished.
(d) T. Hieros. Ternmot, fol. 46. 2.((e) Misn. Beracot. c. 8. sect. 6.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
40. 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—the mixed and pulverized myrrh and aloes shaken into the folds, and the entire body, thus swathed, wrapt in an outer covering of "clean linen cloth" (Mt 27:59). Had the Lord's own friends had the least reason to think that the spark of life was still in Him, would they have done this? But even if one could conceive them mistaken, could anyone have lain thus enveloped for the period during which He was in the grave, and life still remained? Impossible. When, therefore, He walked forth from the tomb, we can say with the most absolute certainty, "Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept" (1Co 15:20). No wonder that the learned and the barbarians alike were prepared to die for the name of the Lord Jesus; for such evidence was to the unsophisticated resistless. (No mention is made of anointing in this operation. No doubt it was a hurried proceeding, for fear of interruption, and because it was close on the sabbath, the women seem to have set this as their proper task "as soon as the sabbath should be past" [Mr 16:1]. But as the Lord graciously held it as undesignedly anticipated by Mary at Bethany [Mr 14:8], so this was probably all the anointing, in the strict sense of it, which He received.)
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