Mark 15:40-47

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 5, 2004


We’ve been walking through the account of Jesus’ last days.  We’ve seen Him put on trial and condemned to death, even though He was an innocent man.  We’ve seen Him whipped and beaten.  We’ve seen Him being crucified, nailed to a cross.  And we’ve seen Him die.

Today we look at another one of the key elements of the “gospel”, that Jesus was buried:

(1 Cor 15:1-4 NKJV)  Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, {2} by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. {3} For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, {4} and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

It’s His burial that proves His death.  The Roman officials would not have released the body of Jesus to be buried unless His death sentence had been finished.

Why was it important that Jesus die?

It was His death that paid for our sins.  His death was a sacrifice, paying the debt we owed God for our sins.  He died in our place.  He paid for us.

His death also is a primary part of the resurrection.  If He didn’t die, then He didn’t rise from the dead.  His resurrection is the chief thing that proves to us that Jesus is the Savior.  His resurrection sets Him apart from every other so-called religious leader that has ever lived.  Or died. 

:40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome,

:41 who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

Mary Magdalene – Despite what Dan Brown, the author of “The Da Vinci Code”, hints at in his book, Mary Magdalene was not the wife of Jesus. Here’s what we do know about Mary Magdalene, from the Bible:

She was a woman that Jesus had helped, He had cast seven demons out of her (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2)

She was one of these women from the northern area of Galilee who served Jesus.

She was honored by Jesus by being the first person He appeared to after His resurrection (Mark 16:9)

Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses – it’s possible that we don’t know who this woman is, because we aren’t sure who James the Less and Joses are.  But there’s another possibility – that it’s Jesus’ mother, Mary.  Jesus had some “half-brothers”, they had the same mother but different fathers (Jesus was God’s Son).  We know that two of His half brothers were named James and Joses (Mat. 13:55).

Salome – (Mat. 27:56) she is the mother of the apostles James and John.

many other women – If the second Mary mentioned (vs. 40) isn’t the mother of Jesus, we do know that Jesus’ mother was there.  John tells us that while Jesus was dying on the cross, He entrusted John to take care of His mother (John 19:25).

ministereddiakoneo (“deacon”) – to be a servant, attendant, preparing food; taking care of things necessary to sustain life.

Luke gives us some clues as to whom some of these other women might have been when he tells about things happening earlier in Jesus’ ministry in Galilee

(Luke 8:1-3 NKJV)  Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, {2} and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, {3} and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

Joanna was a person who lived in Herod’s palace, but she followed Jesus.

Luke tells us that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James were part of the group that would go to the tomb early Sunday morning, only to find that Jesus was gone (Luke 24:10)

provideddiakoneo (“deacon”) – to be a servant …

substancehuparchonta – possessions, goods, wealth, property


Giving back to the Lord

These were women who had been touched by Jesus.  They apparently had either been sick or under demonic power.  But now they were free.
A.T. Robertson:  “This is the first woman’s missionary society for the support of missionaries of the Gospel.”
This is the heart of what “giving” should be all about.  They gave back to Jesus in gratitude for what He had done for them.
For those of you visiting our church, for those of you who were dragged kicking and screaming to church, for those of you who are here to learn more about Jesus and whether or not you want to follow Him … you should not even be thinking about giving.
For those of you who think that giving is something you “have” to do, and it’s a terrible sacrifice for you to put your money in the Agape box, don’t do it.

(2 Cor 9:7 NKJV)  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Some churches come up with all sorts of ways to make people give …

Hymns and Offerings

One Sunday a pastor told his congregation that the church needed some extra money and asked the people to prayerfully consider giving a little extra in the offering plate. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns. After the offering plates were passed, the pastor glanced down and noticed that someone had placed a $1,000 bill in the offering. He was so excited that he immediately shared his joy with his congregation and said he’d like to personally thank the person who placed the money in the plate. A very quiet, elderly, saintly lady all the way in the back shyly raised her hand. The pastor asked her to come to the front. Slowly she made her way to the pastor. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much and in thanksgiving asked her to pick out three hymns. Her eyes brightened as she looked over the congregation, pointed to the three handsomest men in the building and said, “I’ll take him and him and him.”

Giving should only be for those who have been touched by Jesus, those who are grateful to Him for all He’s done in their life.
Note:  These gals gave in two different ways –
1.  They gave money – they used their finances to help meet the needs of the whole group.
2.  They served – they didn’t just write a check and walk away.  They followed Jesus and served the whole group.


Godly women

It wasn’t that the disciples weren’t present at the cross, but it appears that they had been watching from a distance:
(Luke 23:49 NKJV)  But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
But the women were apparently up front, at the cross.
It is worth noting that women were the first at Jesus’ cradle, the last at His cross, and the first to discover His resurrection.
Some people would lead you to believe that the church has held women back, beginning with some sort of plot by the early church fathers.  But just the opposite is true:
Clement of Alexandria (died 101 AD) wrote, “Many women have received power through the grace of God and have performed many deeds of manly valor.”
Jerome (died 420 AD), had some harsh criticism for dedicating his books to women.  He wrote, “These people do not know that while Barak trembled, Deborah saved Israel, that Esther delivered from supreme peril the children of God. Is it not to women that our Lord appeared after His Resurrection? Yes, and the men could then blush for not having sought what the women had found.”
Marcella, who was born to a noble Roman family in 325, was highly revered by Jerome, the 4th-century translator of the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible. This noblewoman offered her palace as a sanctuary for Christians who were being persecuted, and was active in leading Bible classes and prayer meetings among the other noblewomen. Though widowed at an early age and having no children, she chose to not remarry and instead devoted herself to serving Christ and the church. When Pope Damasus commissioned scholar Jerome to make a newly revised translation of the Gospels, taking the latest available Hebrew and Greek texts and translating them into Latin, Jerome moved into Marcella’s retreat house palace for the duration of his task. For three years, he depended upon Marcella and her other house guests to critique his ongoing work, which eventually became a classic, the Latin Vulgate Bible. Marcella founded the first convent for women in the Western church, and gave liberally of her wealth to help other Christians, clearly showing to her fellow noblewomen that greater rewards and fulfillment come from storing up treasures in heaven than from hoarding treasures on earth.
God uses women.  Our church is filled with many wonderful, godly women who serve the Lord just like these gals did.  I think that sometimes some of us lunk-head guys could learn a few things about serving Jesus from the gals around us.
We often talk about men learning to be the spiritual head of the home.  That is so important.  I believe God wants men to be strong, godly leaders.
But to be honest, in many homes it is the woman who is more mature in the Lord.
Gals, thank you for your love for the Lord.  Thank you for setting an example.
(Prov 31:30 NKJV)  Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

:42 Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,

Jesus died on Friday, at 3:00 p.m..  The Sabbath, Saturday would technically start at 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening.  Because no work was allowed on Saturday, because Jewish law required that even criminals be buried, and because the Jewish Law required that people be buried before sunset, things will have to happen quickly to get Jesus buried.

:43 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.

ArimatheaArimathaia – “heights”; possibly the same as the birthplace of Samuel in Mount Ephraim (Ramah, 1Sam. 1:19).

council memberbouleutes – a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council.

waiting for the kingdom of God – This is a way of saying that Joseph was also most likely a Pharisee, one with a strict, conservative view of the Scriptures.

:44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.

Criminals usually took two to three days to die through crucifixion.  But Jesus, after having been scourged, and then on the cross having our sins heaped upon Him, died in a few hours.  And He didn’t just “die”, He made the decision to give up His spirit.

:45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.

Pilate was able to get confirmation from the centurion that Jesus was dead because of the way the Romans carried out their executions.  John tells us a little more:

(John 19:31-34 NKJV)  Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. {32} Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. {33} But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. {34} But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.

The piercing of a person's side with a spear was a way of certifying whether or not the person was alive or not.
The blood and water were proof that death had occurred.
Some people claim that Jesus never died in the first place, but simply fainted on the cross, and was revived in the tomb. This is called the "swoon" theory.
But take note:

The trained Roman executioners, on their first observation thought He was dead.

The blood and water proved He was dead.

From Josh McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict (pg.206-207):
Samuel Houghton, M.D., the great physiologist from the University of Dublin, relates his view on the physical cause of Christ's death:

"Repeated observations and experiments made upon men and animals have led me to the following results – it … would occur in a crucified person, who had died upon the cross from rupture of the heart … There remains, therefore, no supposition possible to explain the recorded phenomenon except the combination of the crucifixion and rupture of the heart.

:46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.

bought – the idea is that Joseph made a point of stopping at the market and buying the necessary cloth to bury Jesus.

wrappedeneileo – to roll in, wind up.  The body would have been wound up like a “mummy”, with a piece of cloth laid over the head.  It was customary that the body would be washed before being wound up in the linen.

tombmnemeion – sepulchre, a tomb.  Matthew tells us that it was actually Joseph’s own tomb (Mat. 27:60)

hewn outlatomeo – to cut stones, to hew out stones.  In other words, it wasn’t a cave with a secret exit in the back.  Luke tells us that the tomb had been unused, no one had ever used it before (Luke 23:53).

rolled a stone – A large, flat, round stone weighing several hundred pounds would be rolled down into a slot in front of the tomb.  To open the tomb would normally require several strong men. The purpose of these stones was to keep animals out of the tomb. 

Matthew also tells us that on the following day, Pilate would assign a contingent of soldiers to seal and guard the tomb as well, just to make sure that no one tried to steal the body (Mat. 27:62-66)

Joseph did not bury the body of Jesus by himself.  He had help…

(John 19:39-40 NKJV)  And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. {40} Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

Fulfilled prophecy

We talked last week about some of the various prophecies that were being fulfilled along the way.

There was another interesting prophecy being fulfilled by Joseph:

(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.
He died alongside two criminals, but He was buried in the grave of a rich man.

:47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.

Some say that Jesus’ body would have just been thrown out onto the trash heap with the other dead criminals.  Others say that the disciples simply went to the wrong tomb.

But the two Marys were there.  They knew which tomb to go to.

And even if they had gone to the wrong tomb and everyone got excited about nothing, all the Jews and Romans would have to do is to produce the body.

:43  Joseph … taking courage…

Matthew clarifies that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus

(Mat 27:57 NKJV)  Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

Luke tells us that even though Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, he had not agreed to have Jesus crucified.  He had either been absent during the trial, or he had voted against condemning Jesus. (Luke 23:50-51)

John tells us that Joseph had not been open about being a disciple of Jesus, but that he was one of the secret followers of Jesus.

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

Earlier in his gospel, John had explained that there had been some “rulers” who were secret followers of Jesus:

(John 12:42-43 NKJV)  Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; {43} for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
It would appear that Joseph was in this category of leaders.

taking couragetolmao – not to dread or shun through fear; to be bold

It would take boldness for Joseph to ask for Jesus’ body because:

1.     He was not a relative of Jesus
2.     His request would probably be denied on principle since Jesus had been executed for treason.
3.     As a Pharisee, he would risk ceremonial defilement by touching a dead body.
4.     He would no longer be a secret disciple, people would find out what had happened to the body of Jesus.


Open courage

We teach and believe that a part of being a Christian is learning to be open about your faith.  We do not believe there are any “secret service” Christians.  At some point in your walk with Jesus, you need to admit that you love Him and are following Him.
Jesus Himself said,
(Mat 10:32-33 NKJV)  "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. {33} "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

But frankly, this is kind of scary at times.  How can we face our friends who openly ridicule Christianity?  What if we lose our friends?

How did Joseph get the courage to admit he was a follower of Jesus and take the body?
I wonder if it didn’t have something to do with the fact that Joseph has just seen what Jesus has done for Him.  He watched Jesus die on a cross to pay for His sins.
Jesus had said,

(John 15:13 NKJV)  "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.

The Bible says,

(Rom 5:8 NKJV)  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Joseph has watched Jesus openly die on a cross for Him.
And now it has been recorded for eternity that Joseph was the one who openly stepped up and claimed the body of Jesus.  He was willing to place the body of Jesus in his own tomb.