87 – Body Placed in Tomb

When: 5-6 pm, Friday, April 7, 30 AD
Where: Hinnon Valley, Jerusalem, Judea
Mark, Matthew, Luke, John,


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For almost an hour and a half the body of Jesus hung limp on his cross while the other two continued to suffer. But around 4:30 pm the other two showed no sign of dying quickly, so the representatives of the Sanhedrin went to Pilate and requested that their deaths be hastened, so that they would be off the crosses by 6 pm and therefore not defile the land on Friday night, the Passover Sabbath.

Pilate agreed, and sent instructions to the guards, that the legs of the condemned be broken so that they could no longer push themselves upward for a breath, and would suffocate fairly soon.

It was now around 5:00 pm. The soldiers broke the legs of the two, but since Jesus already appeared to be dead, they did not break his bones. Instead, one of them drove a lance point through the rib cage to pierce the lungs and heart. The disciple John watched this and saw water and blood come out of the wound.

There was a wealthy Pharisee called Joseph, originally from Arimathea (about 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem) who planned to be buried near Jerusalem. He was a good and righteous man who had heard of Jesus and knew the prophesies about the coming kingdom. He was looking forward to God’s ruling the coming kingdom.

Someone had to see that the body of Jesus was buried. Joseph took on that responsibility. He did not agree with the Sanhedrin decision to hand Jesus over to the Romans. So, risking the suspicion of the religious leaders and the Roman authorities, Joseph went to Pilate and asked that he be allowed to oversee the burial of the body of Jesus.

Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead, considering that the soldiers could only have broken his legs a few minutes ago. Was this some trick to get a man, not yet dead, off the cross quickly? So Pilate sent for the centurion in charge and asked if Jesus was already dead. Within ten minutes the centurion had come to Pilate and told him that Jesus had been dead for almost two hours, and that he had been lanced to be sure. So Pilate gave Joseph permission.

Joseph immediately went back to Golgotha, got the body down, and had it carried to a tomb nearby [Garden tomb], that Joseph had previously had dug into the side of a limestone hill in the upper end of the Valley of Hinnon [the southern end had been the city dump Gehanna, and the smoke from the burning garbage led to the description of hell].

Mary Magdalene and others followed at a distance, to see what these men would do with Jesus’ body. They watched as Joseph and his servants carried the body into the tomb.

Nicodemus had already arrived at the tomb. Nicodemus had brought a skin of water, seventy-five pounds of spices (including myrrh), and fresh linen, and had them waiting inside the tomb. When Joseph arrived with the body, he and Nicodemus took the body into the tomb, and laid it on the stone preparation shelf. They cleaned the body as best they could. Then they wrapped the body in linen with the spices between the linen layers.

Around 5:30 pm Mary Magdalene had to leave. She had to get back to Bethany for the beginning of Passover. Not aware of what Joseph and Nicodemus were doing inside the tomb, Mary hurried away in order to purchase the necessary spices to prepare the body properly after the Sabbath was over and still get back to Bethany before the Sabbath was too far begun.

It was almost 6 pm when Joseph and Nicodemus finished, and the Sabbath was only minutes away. When they came out of the tomb they had the rock “door” rolled in front of the entrance. Then they left the area, and each went to his own home.

The women that were staying in Jerusalem had stayed to watch the tomb when Mary had left. They watched while Joseph and Nicodemus “closed the door” and left the tomb. Then they also went home to the upper city to “rest” on the Sabbath.

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