John 19:38 – 20:10

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 24, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

We’ve been following the events of Jesus’ last day before dying.

He had spent the evening with the disciples eating, teaching, and praying.

He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and then put on trial before various leaders before being unjustly condemned.

He was scourged.  He was crucified. He died.

19:38-42 The Burial

:38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.

:38 Joseph

This is not Jesus’ earthly dad.  Mark tells us he was a prominent member of the Sanhedrin (Mk. 15:43)

(Mk 15:43 NKJV) —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.

Matthew tells us that he was a wealthy man (Mt. 27:57). (Mt 27:57 NKJV) —57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

This fulfills an odd prophecy:
(Is 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.
Jesus died with criminals, but was buried in a rich man’s tomb.

:38 of Arimathea – from Ramah – “hill”

Play “Jerusalem Arimathea map clip”

Joseph was from a town in the hills about five miles north of Jerusalem.

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

:39 Nicodemus

Nicodemus was the man who came to Jesus in John 3.  Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin (John 3:1).

In John 7:50, when some of the Jewish leaders were trying to get Jesus arrested, Nicodemus was trying to get the Sanhedrin to take time to listen to Jesus before judging Him.  The other leaders accused Nicodemus of being from Galilee (like saying he was a hillbilly).

We see now that Nicodemus had taken that step to follow Jesus.

:39 myrrh and aloes

The spices were not used to embalm the body, but to perfume it as it decays.

This is roughly equivalent to 75 of our pounds.

This is a lot of spice, very, very costly.

: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.

:40 strips of linenothonion – a piece of linen, small linen cloth; strips of linen cloth for swathing the dead

:40 the custom of the Jews

The Jews don’t practice embalming like the Egyptians did.

The body was typically wound in the linen with spices in between the layers of cloth.

The point was to have the body decay, the collect and store the bones in a bone box (ossuary). 

Sometimes to speed things up, a body might be put in a limestone casket, which would cause the decay to happen much quicker.

:41 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.

:41 in the place where He was crucified

There are two favorite views of the place where Jesus was crucified.  The one that makes the most sense is called “Gordon’s Calvary”.  It is located north of the Temple Mount, just outside the Damascus Gate.

Play “Jerusalem Garden Tomb” map clip.  It’s only about a ½ mile walk from the Antonio Fortress outside the Damascus Gate to Golgotha.

:41 garden

If “Gordon’s Calvary” is where Jesus was crucified, then we know what kind of “garden” this was. 

It was a vineyard.

Archaeologists have discovered a winepress.
They also discovered a huge underground cistern for providing water.  That means this was a wealthy man’s vineyard.

:41 new tomb

Matthew clarifies that it was Joseph of Arimathea’s own tomb (Mt. 27:60)

(Mt 27:60 NKJV) —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.

The “Garden Tomb” fits this “new” description.  Inside the burial chamber there are spots for two bodies.

When you carve out a tomb, you make little “beds” for the bodies to be laid upon.
You don’t finish carving out the bed until the person’s death, to make sure that the body will fit in the carved out portion.
The Garden Tomb has one spot “finished”, the other spot was not finished.

:42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

:42 there they laid Jesus

The burial of Jesus is a part of the “gospel”.

Paul wrote,

(1 Co 15:3–4 NKJV) —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,

The burial speaks of the finality and completeness of His death.

He didn’t just “faint”.  He was dead and buried.


Dead and Buried

When we are baptized and lowered into the water, there is a sense in which we identify with Jesus’ death and burial.  Paul wrote,
(Ro 6:4 NKJV) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
I wonder if there isn’t a correlation between the victory of our new life in Christ, and the extent to which we’ve learned to be “buried” with Him.
Paul talks about this process:
(Ro 6:11–13 NKJV) —11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
I think that sometimes we treat our old sin nature, our “old man”, with a bit too much kindness.
We might rough up the old man, tie him up, and then stick him in the back closet of our life and close the door.
But we aren’t quite ready to put that part of our life to death.
We might keep the old man prisoner and just feed him bread and water.
But if the old man were a corpse, we wouldn’t feed it at all.
Paul wrote,
(Ga 6:7–8 NKJV) —7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

What does that look like?

There’s an old Eskimo proverb:  There are two dogs fighting inside of you.  The dog you feed is the one that wins”.

Are you feeding the flesh or the Spirit?  Maybe we should learn to starve the flesh a little more.  Does that make sense?

20:1-10 The Empty Tomb

:1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

:1 the first day of the week

This is Sunday.  Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday.

Even though there are various ways that different churches calculate what day of the week that Jesus died on, or which calendar day should be considered the day of the resurrection, one thing is certain – it happened on a Sunday.

:1  Mary Magdalene

Jesus’ inner group of disciples not only included the twelve disciples, but “certain women” who had been helped by Jesus.  Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her by Jesus (Luke 8:2).  She was NOT the wife of Jesus.

Mary does not come alone, but is accompanied at least by “another Mary”, and Salome (Mark 16:1).

They are coming to add even more spices to Jesus’ body.

:1 went to the tomb

One of the issues raised by the critics about the resurrection is the possibility that they all simply went to the wrong tomb.

Keep in mind, Mary knew where the tomb was.

Mary and the other women were there when Joseph buried the body (Lk 23:55)
(Lk 23:55 NKJV) —55 And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid.

And just in case you think Mary still went to the wrong tomb, then so does Peter and John.

And even if all the disciples went to the wrong tomb, then why didn’t the chief priests simply produce the body when word gets out that Jesus has risen?

:1 it was still dark

Just because Mary went to the empty tomb and it was still dark doesn’t mean we can’t do our “sunrise service” at 7am.  J  No need for legalism, huh?

:1 the stonelithos – a stone

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”). 

Covering a tomb with a stone kept animals and thieves out.

The chief priests were concerned about keeping someone else out as well.

They asked Pilate to send Roman soldiers to guard the tomb and put a seal on it. (Mat. 27:62-66)
(Mt 27:62–66 NKJV) —62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 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.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
The Roman guard contingent would consist of 4-16 men.
Putting a “seal” on the stone meant stretching a rope across it and melting a wax seal on it.  If you broke the seal, you’d have to deal with the wrath of Rome.

:1 taken awayairo – to raise up, elevate, lift up

It wasn’t rolled downhill, it had been rolled uphill.

In case you are one who thinks Jesus didn’t really die, but just “swooned”, you have to account for how this severely beaten man was able to roll a one ton stone uphill to get out of the tomb.

There are those who feel that Jesus didn’t really die, but just fainted, was revived in the tomb, and then felt better after a couple of days rest.  This is called the “swoon” theory.

Some problems with this theory:

Jesus had to fool the Roman executioners who proved His death by piercing His side with a spear.
He also had to be strong enough to roll the stone up the hill.

:2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

:2 the other disciple, whom Jesus loved

This is John’s way of referring to himself.

:2 they have taken away

Mary has assumed that the Jews or the Romans have taken the body.

:2 we do not know

Remember that Mary Magdalene was not alone.

:3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.

:4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.

:4 outranprotrecho – to run before, to outrun

As we’ve mentioned before, John makes a point of telling us details that the other gospels have not told us.

I was searching and actually found some old archival footage of Peter and John running with the other disciples as they trained for this day near the Sea of Galilee…

Play Chariots of Fire clip

Here John is gracious enough to let us know who won the footrace to the tomb.

John won.

:5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.

:5 sawblepo – to see, discern, of the bodily eye

:5 he did not go in

For some reason, John was a little reluctant to enter the tomb. It’s possible that he was just running ahead on Peter’s wishes to see if Mary knew what she was talking about.

:6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,

:7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.

:6 he sawtheoreo – to be a spectator, look at, behold; a word not used of an indifferent spectator, but of one who looks at a thing with interest and for a purpose; would be used of a general officially reviewing or inspecting his army

The word that’s used to describe John looking (blepo, vs. 5) into the tomb is a more common word for “seeing”.  But here, Peter is taking time to inspect what he sees.  Perhaps like a detective looking at the forensic evidence.

:6 linen clothsothonion – a piece of linen, small linen cloth; strips of linen cloth for swathing the dead

Some see this word describing strips of cloth used to wrap around a body, like the traditional movie “mummy”.

Others see this word describing a sheet, perhaps similar to (but not necessarily) the Shroud of Turin.

:7 handkerchiefsoudarion – a handkerchief; a cloth for wiping perspiration from the face and for cleaning the nose and also used in swathing the head of a corpse

:7 folded togetherentulisso (“in” + “to twist”) – to roll up, wrap together

Peter takes notice that there are two sets of cloth in the tomb.

There are the “linen cloths”, the part that covered the body in one pile.
The smaller cloth that covered the head is folded up by itself.

:8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.

:8 he sawhorao – to see with the eyes

:9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

:9 He must rise again

It seems as if at this point the disciples still hadn’t been taking Jesus seriously about rising from the dead.

It seems as if the chief priests had taken Jesus more seriously than the disciples did (after all, they ordered the guards).

Later, the disciples will begin to learn the Scriptures that pointed to the resurrection.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter will quote from the Psalms:

(Ps 16:10 NKJV) For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

:10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Peter and John walk away, partly believing, partly confused.

At some point Mary had arrived back at the tomb as well.  They leave Mary standing at the tomb.

:8 he saw and believed

John records that this was the moment when he believed that Jesus had risen.

Some of us require a lot more convincing, but with John it was simply one look at the graveclothes and he believed.

For those of you still skeptical, keep coming.  There’s more proof ahead.
For some of you, it’s time to believe.



John tells us the reason he wrote his gospel:
(Jn 20:30–31 NKJV) —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.

John believed, like we do, that if you want to have eternal life, you have to come to the point where you put your faith in Jesus.

You need to come to realize that Jesus Christ was real, that He came to die on the cross to pay for your sins, and that He rose again.

You need to choose to follow Him.