And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews…
There are six remarkable particulars about this funeral.
1. The preparations that were made for it.
(1) His body could not be buried till, by begging, his friends had obtained it as a favour from Pilate.
(2) And when they had gotten it, they wind it in fine linen with spices. But what need of spices? His own love was perfume enough to keep it sweet in remembrance of His people to all generations. However, by this they will manifest the dear affection they have for Him.
2. The bearers — Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. None could imagine that ever they would have gone boldly to manifest their love to Christ, when dead, who were afraid to come to Him (except by night) when He was living, when those that made open confessions of Him are gone.
3. The attendants who followed the hearse — the women that followed Him out of Galilee.
4. The sepulchre.
(1) It was another's. As He lived in other men's houses, so He lay in another man's tomb.
(2) It was a new tomb; for had any other been laid there before Him, it might have been averred that it was some former body, and not the Lord's, that rose.
5. The disposition of the body. There is no mention made of the tears, yet we may well presume they were not wanting in plentiful expressions of their sorrow (Luke 23:48).
I. WHY HAD CHRIST ANY FUNERAL AT ALL, since He was to rise again?
1. To ascertain His death, else it might have been looked upon as a cheat. Now, since our eternal life is wrapt up in Christ's death, it can never be too firmly established.
2. To fulfil the types and prophecies that went before (Matthew 12:40; Isaiah 53:9).
3. To complete His humiliation. Lower He could not be laid.
4. That He might conquer death in its own dominion; which victory furnisheth the saints with that triumphant song (1 Corinthians 15:55).
II. WHAT MANNER OF FUNERAL CHRIST HAD.
1. It was very obscure and private. Here was no external pomp. Christ affected it not in His life, and it was no way suitable to the ends and manner of His death.
(1) The dead body of the Lord was not brought from His own house as other men's commonly are, but from the tree. Had they not obtained this favour from Pilate, it must have been tumbled into a pit under the cross.
(2) It was attended with a very poor train; a few sorrowful women. Other men are accompanied to their graves by their relations and friends. The disciples were afraid to own Him dying, and dead.
(3) It was done in great haste. Time was short; they take the next sepulchre they can get, and hurry Him away that evening into it. Thus was the Prince of the kings of earth, who hath the keys of death and hell, laid into His grave.
2. Yet though men could bestow little honour upon it, the heavens bestowed several marks of honour upon it.
(1) A miraculous eclipse put the heavens and earth into mourning.
(2) The rending in twain of the veil showed that all ceremonies were now accomplished and abolished.
(3) The opening of the graves showed the design and end of Christ's going into it.
1. Was Christ buried in this manner? Then a decent and mournful funeral (where it can be had) is very laudable among Christians.
2. Did Joseph and Nicodemus so boldly appear, at a time of so much danger, to beg the body and give it a funeral? Let it be for ever a caution to strong Christians not to despise or glory over the weak.
3. Hence we may be assisted in discerning the depths of Christ's humiliation for us, and see from what to what this love brought Him.
4. From this funeral of Christ results the purest and strongest consolation and encouragement to believers against the fears of death and the grave.
(1) The grave received, but could not destroy, Jesus Christ; and as it fared with Christ's body personal, so it shall with Christ's body mystical (1 Corinthians 15:20).
(2) As the union betwixt the body of Christ and the Divine nature was not dissolved, so the union between Christ and believers cannot be when their bodies shall be laid in their graves.
(3) As Christ's body did there rest in hope, so it shall fare with the dead bodies of the saints (Psalm 16:9-11).
(4) Christ's lying in the grave hath changed the nature of the grave, so that it is not what it was. It was once a part of the curse, but now it is no prison but a bed of rest; yea, and a perfumed bed (Isaiah 57:2; Psalm 23:4).
5. Since Christ was laid in His grave, and His people reap such privileges by it, as ever you expect rest or comfort in your graves, see that you get union with Christ now.
(1) The covenant of God holds firmly with our very dust (Matthew 22:31, 32; Romans 14:7-9). That dust is still the Lord's.
(2) As God's covenant with our very bodies is indissolvable, so God's love to our very dust is inseparable (Romans 8:33).
(3) As God's love will be with you in the grave, so God's providence shall take order when it shall be digged for you; not till you are fit to be put into it (Job 5:26; Acts 13:36).
(4) When ever you come to your graves, you shall find the enmity of the grave slain by Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21, 22).
(5) Christ keeps the keys of all the chambers of death, and as He unlocks the door of death, when He lets you in so He will open it again for you when you awake, to let you out; He Himself wakes and watches by you while you sleep there (Revelation 1:18).
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: After these things, Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked of Pilate that he might take away Jesus' body. Pilate gave him permission. He came therefore and took away his body.