|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:57-61 In the burial of Christ was nothing of pomp or solemnity. As Christ had not a house of his own, wherein to lay his head, while he lived, so he had not a grave of his own, wherein to lay his body, when he was dead. Our Lord Jesus, who had no sin of his own, had no grave of his own. The Jews designed that he should have made his grave with the wicked, should have been buried with the thieves with whom he was crucified, but God overruled it, so that he should make it with the rich in his death, Isa 53:9. And although to the eye of man the beholding a funeral may cause terror, yet if we remember how Christ by his burial has changed the nature of the grave to believers, it should make us rejoice. And we are ever to imitate Christ's burial in being continually occupied in the spiritual burial of our sins.
Verse 59. - When Joseph had taken the body. In order to effect this, the cross would be taken up and deposited upon the ground, the nails would be drawn from hands and feet, the cord unbound (if cord there was), and the corpse laid reverently down. We must remember that this act of Joseph and his friends was not only a bold proceeding, but an act of great self-denial. Contact with a corpse caused ceremonial defilement of seven days' duration, and thus they would be debarred from taking their part in the great Paschal solemnity, with its solemn and joyful observances. But the love of Jesus and the unselfish desire to render him honour enabled them to rise superior to religious prejudices, and willingly to make the required sacrifice. Wrapped it in a clean linen cloth; literally, swathed it in clean linen. The body was enveloped in a sheet of fine linen, pure and clean, as was fitting. The linen was a fine Indian cloth or muslin, much used for such purposes in Egypt. The body would then be taken to its destination on an open bier. St. John adds the fact that Nicodemus took part in the entombment, bringing a large amount of myrrh and aloes for a temporary embalming, the near approach of the sabbath leaving no time for more elaborate offices. All had to be done with the utmost expedition consistent with propriety and reverence, to avoid encroachment on the rest of that high sabbath. Some of the preparations for burial would doubtless be made in the vestibule of the tomb, which was a small court, but spacious enough for the purpose. Here the limbs would be separately bound with folds of linen, between layers of spices, the head being wrapped in a napkin.
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And when Joseph had taken the body,.... Down from the cross, with the assistance of others, or from the hands of those who had orders to deliver it to him:
he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth: that is, he wound up the body in it round and round, as was the custom of the Jews; see Acts 5:6.
John 11:44. Nor was it usual to bury in any thing but linen: so it is said (m),
"let the wrappings, or grave clothes, be , "of white linen"; and let not the price of them be dear, for it is forbidden to bury in wrappings of silk, or broidered garments, even to a prince of Israel: for this is pride and destruction, and the work of the Gentiles.
This clean linen cloth, in which the dead body of Christ was wrapped, may be an emblem of his purity and innocence, who did no sin; nor did he die for any of his own, but for the sins of others; and also of his pure and spotless righteousness, which is compared to fine linen, clean and white, and which he now had wrought out, and brought in; see Revelation 19:8.
(m) Juchasin, fol. 54. 2. Vid. Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 4. sect. 2.
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