The Household (Pt. 9)

Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43 & Luke 23:50) is best known for his sacrificial act in helping to bury Christ, Mat. 27:57-61. It was forbidden by Jewish tradition to bury within the walls of a city, their ancient cemeteries were outside the city walls, and the Gospels specify that Jesus was buried outside of Jerusalem, near the site of his crucifixion, Golgotha (“the place of skulls”). When Constantine’s representatives arrived in Jerusalem around A.D. 325 to locate the tomb, they were allegedly pointed to a temple built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian some 200 years earlier. They fully realized and accepted that the walls of Jerusalem had moved & expanded to include both Golgotha & the burial site, but not Gethsemane. Historical sources suggest that Hadrian had the temple built over the tomb to assert his dominance of the Roman state religion over Christians. There is only one “new tomb” mentioned in the 27 letters of the New Testament, it was donated by Joseph and given to his new King, in order to establish a new Kingdom, John 19:41. The Kingdom is not physical, (Luke 17:21) it is spiritual and global, which is one reason why God has allowed the physical location of the cross & tomb to be ambiguous and debatable. God doesn’t want us to venerate a place, He craves our heart venerating His Son, the lover of our soul. That is why Joseph’s gift is more personal, than it is public, Luke 23:53.

Nicodemus (John 3:1-10) is best known for his private discussion with Jesus about being born again, Nicodemus was a ruling Pharisee over the Jewish leadership, called “Master Teacher” by Jesus. His membership within or associated with the Sanhedrin prevented public discourse with Jesus, but he grew in his faith of Christ and joined Joseph of Arimathea to help bury him with a huge amount of spices, John 19:37-41. The myrrh & aloes are both considered chief spices (Song of Solomon 4:14)  Myrrh was one of the principal spices in the anointing oil and holy perfume, Ex. 30:23. It is a kind of resin called “stacte”, which is aromatic by incision, or by its own accord, out of the body or branches of the tree so named, which grows in Arabia and Egypt; and since it is a wonderful aroma, was used at funerals. Aloe was used to perfume, and to give a good scent, Prv 7:17, and Christ’s garments are said to smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia, Psalm 45:8. Some have thought, that this was a mixture of the juice of myrrh, and of the juice of the aloe plant, and was a liquid into which the body of Christ was put: but this thought is not in agreement with the winding of the body in linen, where they are called spices. The large amount of these spices could be enough for the usual burial of a dozen corpses, about 75 lbs. Several modern Jewish scholars discount the gospel account, referring to it as a ridiculous amount, but it is true to point out the example of King Asa, that “they buried him in his own grave which he had made for himself, in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet aromas, and many kinds of spices” 2nd Chron. 16:14.  To which may be added, that a large amount was probably brought by Nicodemus with servants, helping him by his orders, and it’s likely he came along with them. Just as Joseph is said to take down the body of Jesus from the cross, wind it in linen, and carry it to his grave, and there bury it; this being done with help, by his servants, at his orders, at least assisting in it; and also as Pilate is said to put the title he wrote upon the cross, though it was done by others, at his command. The reason this is so important is because the first eye-witnesses to the empty grave were women going to the tomb to finish the burial process with spices and OINTMENTS, Luke 23:56, the Greek word means liquid myrrh. It would seal the linen wrapped with several pounds of spices, previously used by Joseph & Nicodemus. Their work was enough, their gift was more than enough. Christ was risen, and enough evidence for his deity was manifested for the world to see. Nicodemus reminds the Family of Christ to this day, that God knows your gift, and if it is truly abundant, it is enough. Revelation 14:13 reminds us of what follows us who die in the Lord, having labor exclusively for Jesus Christ. Those kind of family members are friends!


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