Matthew 27:57 – 28:8

Thursday Evening Bible Study

July 19, 2007


We’ve followed Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

Matthew 27:57-66

:57-61 The burial

:57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

Joseph – We are told a little bit about this man:

1.  He was a wealthy man.

This too was a part of the prophecies:
(Isa 53:9 NKJV)  And they made His grave with the wicked; But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Somehow at His death, He would be associated both with criminals and with the wealthy.  He died between two thieves and was buried in a rich man’s tomb.

2.  He was from Arimathea.

ArimatheaArimathaia – “heights”

Some have suggested this might have been the place where Samuel was from, known as Ramathaim (1Sam. 1:1) and Ramah (1Sam. 1:19).  This was a city about six miles north of Jerusalem.

3.  He was part of the Sanhedrin:

(Luke 23:50 NKJV)  Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man.

4.  He was not part of the vote that sentenced Jesus to death.

(Luke 23:51 NKJV)  He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.

5.  At this point, he was still a “secret” Christian.

(John 19:38 NKJV)  After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews…

:58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him.

It took courage for Joseph to do this.  He’s apparently had enough of being a “secret” Christian.

(Mark 15:43-45 NKJV)  Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. {44} Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. {45} So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.

This act of Joseph’s will be important to our understanding of the truth of the resurrection.

Jesus’ resurrection wouldn’t be real if Jesus had not actually died on the cross.

Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly – some men hung on their crosses for days before dying.  Pilate had the centurion find out whether Jesus had already died.  We know that Jesus was actually dead because of the the centurion’s report that was sent back to Pilate gave a sort of legal death certificate to the situation.

The centurion knew that Jesus was dead because they had already been trying to hurry up the prisoner’s deaths, but found that Jesus had already died.

The apostle John records,
(John 19:31-37 NLT)  The Jewish leaders didn't want the victims hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath at that, because it was the Passover), so they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. {32} So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. {33} But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was dead already, so they didn't break his legs. {34} One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out. {35} This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account; it is presented so that you also can believe. {36} These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, "Not one of his bones will be broken," {37} and "They will look on him whom they pierced."
Legs of a prisoner were broken to hasten death because the prisoner was unable to push himself up breathe.  In the case of Jesus, the soldiers could tell that He was already dead.
The piercing of His side with a spear was intended to be a way of certifying that the prisoner was dead.  The flow of blood and then water gives us evidence of Jesus’ death:

Dr. Davis records that there was “an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart. We, therefore, have a rather conclusive post-mortem. Evidence that [Christ] died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.” (Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”).

:59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,

Mark tells us that Joseph purchased the linen:

(Mark 15:46 NKJV)  Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen.

John tells us Joseph had help with the burial of Jesus.

(John 19:39 NKJV)  And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.

Nicodemus, like Joseph, was also a member of the Sanhedrin.

he wrapped itentulisso – to roll up, wrap together

clean linen cloth – is this the Shroud of Turin???  Who really knows?

Burial Procedures:

Jewish burial procedures involved winding the body in several layers of cloth and putting 75 pounds of aromatic spices (John 19:39) in between the layers of cloth.  Some have suggested that this might have revived a person who had fainted when in reality it would have suffocated anyone who was barely clinging to life.

:60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.

John tells us something about the location of the tomb:

(John 19:41-42 NKJV)  Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. {42} So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

So Joseph owned a garden near the place of crucifixion and in this garden was a new, unused tomb.
In Jerusalem, there are two places you can visit, both claim to be the place of Jesus’ death and burial.  There is a church built in the center of Old Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Constantine’s mother Helena claimed that she had a vision that this was the location of Jesus’ burial.
There is a much more likely place that fits the description of the Scriptures, we call it the “Garden Tomb”.

The Scriptures indicate that Jesus died “outside the gate” (Heb. 13:12).  This location isn’t in the old city, it’s just outside the Damascus gate.

Crucifixion was usually done along a major highway so as many people as possible would see it.

The Bible calls the location “Golgotha”, or, “skull”.  There is a skull like face in the rock cliff behind this place.

They have uncovered a garden, an actual vineyard and winepress next to the place of crucifixion.

In this garden is a tomb carved out of rock, one which appears to have been used only once.

hewn out of the rock – this was a rich man’s tomb.  Carving a tomb out of solid rock would be expensive.  The “Garden Tomb” has two chambers: a “weeping chamber” for family members to stand in, and a burial chamber where the bodies would lie.  The Garden Tomb has two benches carved into the rock for bodies.  The practice was to make a general sized bench for a body, with the idea that the actual bench would be altered at the time of burial to actually fit the body that was being buried.  In the Garden tomb, one of the benches has not been finished, but one of the benches has an extra area carved out to lengthen the bench to fit the legs.

Keep in mind, the tomb is made out of solid stone.  There are no “back door” escape routes.  There is no way for the body to be secretly removed without going through the sealed entrance.

large stone – the purpose of the stone was to keep wild animals out of the tomb while the body was decomposing.  The stone was most likely a round disk shaped stone in a groove that allowed the stone to be rolled parallel with the outer wall of the tomb.

Modern engineers have estimated that it would have taken a stone of 1 to 1 ½ tons to cover the entrance (Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”).  This isn’t something you’d expect a near-dead man to be able to move.

:61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.

This is important to note because some people claim that the disciples simply went to the wrong tomb on Easter morning.

But the gals that discovered the empty tomb were also at the place of burial.  And since this area itself was right outside the Damascus gate, it was not a difficult place to find.

:62-66 Guarding the tomb

:62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate,

the next day – on the Sabbath, Saturday.

:63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.'

It’s interesting that these Jewish leaders recalled Jesus claiming that He would rise from the dead in three days.  It seems that they believed Jesus’ claim more than the disciples did.

:64 "Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first."

:65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how."

Pilate assigns a Roman guard to watch over the tomb.

Roman historical records tell us that a Roman guard unit consisted of 4-16 men (Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”).  Typically, four men would be on guard at a time while the other twelve slept in a semi-circle around the men on duty. The men would rotate in four hour shifts. For someone to slip past the guard, he would have to get past the sleeping men and then get past the men on duty.

:66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.

sealing the stone – This meant a cord was stretched in front of the stone, with sealing clay put on both ends, stamped with a Roman seal.  The idea was that if anyone broke that seal, they would bring the wrath of the Roman government upon them.

This is all actually a good thing. 

This will only add credence to the claims of the resurrection.  Nobody could claim that the body was stolen (though they would try and make that claim).

Matthew 28:1-8

:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

These are the same gals that were there when the body was buried in the tomb.

It is early Sunday morning.

:2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.

The angel doesn’t roll the stone back so Jesus can get out. He rolls the stone so the women and the disciples can see that Jesus has risen.

We know from later accounts that Jesus’ resurrected body has the ability to pass through solid objects:

(John 20:26 NKJV)  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"

:3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

:4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

The big burly Roman guards faint dead away.

:5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

It’s interesting that the big burly Roman guards fainted at the site of the angel, but the women ended up being encouraged.


You are known

How did the angel know what the women were there for?
Were they wearing signs around their necks saying, “We’re just women seeking Jesus”?
Could he tell by the bumper sticker on their car?
The angel wasn’t just some kind of cosmic bellboy shouting out, “Message for Mary, message for Mary, is there a Mary in the house?”
He knew them.  He knew what they were there for.
There are angels all around us – and I think they know who we are – even the demons seem to know who we are…
(Acts 19:15 NKJV)  And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?"
Angels are assigned to “minister” to believers.
(Heb 1:14 NKJV)  Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

:6 "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

He is risen – this is what our faith is based upon.  This is what our hope is based upon.

:7 "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you."

:8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

The first person Jesus will appear to is Mary Magdalene.

(Mark 16:11 NKJV)  And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

He will also appear to two disciples on the way to Emmaus, but when they tell the others, they don’t believe them either (Mark 16:11).

He will appear to the disciples who are locked in a room out of fear of being arrested

(Mark 16:14 NKJV)  Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

Thomas wasn’t there when Jesus appeared, and when Thomas showed up and heard their stories, he said he wouldn’t believe unless he saw the nail holes and put his fingers into them.

(John 20:26-31 NKJV)  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" {27} Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." {28} And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" {29} Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." {30} And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; {31} but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

We are told in 1Cor. 15:1-4 that the gospel that we must believe in to be saved involves the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Why is it important to your salvation to believe that Jesus died for you?

His death paid for my sins.  He died in my place.

Why is it important to your salvation to believe that Jesus rose again?

His resurrection proves He paid for my sins.  His resurrection is proof that He will raise me from the dead one day.

Why is the resurrection an important part of your daily life?

There is more to life than just the junk I have to endure day to day.  There will be a day when things are different.  There is hope.