Lesson 91

The Gospel According to Mark

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

15:42 When evening had now come, because it was the Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 15:43 Joseph of Arimathaea, a member of the council of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the Kingdom of God, came. He boldly went in to Pilate, and asked for Jesus' body. 15:44 Pilate marveled if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for a while. 15:45 When he learned it from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 15:46 He bought a linen cloth, and taking him down, wound him in the linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb which had been cut out of a rock. He rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 15:47 Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where he was laid.

Today's Lesson

Jesus had been crucified by the order of Pilate at the urging of the chief priest and the scribes of Jerusalem. He was convicted in a Jewish trial of blaspheme and by Pilate in a Roman trial for insurrection. In the religious court He was found guilty of a religious crime. In the secular court He was found guilty of a crime against the state. In the end, He had been betrayed and abandoned. He was put to death among common criminals. He cried out from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." In every worldly sense, His death was an utter disgrace and a complete disaster.


After Jesus had died, Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate and asked for the body in order to bury Him. Joseph of Arimathaea was a member of the ruling council of Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin. Mark seems to be saying that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus or, at the very least, one who was receptive to His message. It is important to realize that the Bible teaches that even at the highest levels, the Jewish leaders were never a monolithic group who all believed the same. There were many groups and factions in Jewish society just as there are in our own. Different groups had different agendas. They would oppose one another at times or come together for matters of mutual benefit at others. There were even several people on the ruling council who believed in Jesus.


When Joseph presented his request, Pilate was amazed that Jesus was already dead. Jesus only hung on the cross for 6 hours. In some cases when the Romans wanted to make a show of things, they crucified people in such a way as to make them last for a very long time. These people died from exposure and dehydration after many days on a cross. But Jesus had been crucified on the day before the Holy Sabbath of Passover. There was every reason for both the Jews and the Romans to hasten His death so that it would be over before the religious observance. So Jesus had been crucified in a method that hastened the process by maximizing the pain and the pressure on His respiratory system.


After Pilate confirmed that Jesus was in fact dead, he turned the body over to Joseph of Arimathaea. Joseph took the body of Jesus down and wrapped it in a linen cloth. He took the body to a tomb and laid Jesus in the grave. He rolled a stone against the door to seal it. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, had followed Joseph with the body and saw where He had been buried.


Jesus had to be buried before the Sabbath and He had nothing to even call His own to pay for the burial. Even the clothes that He wore had been taken from Him. There was no place where He could have been buried, so God sent Joseph of Arimathaea to solve the problem. Even in death, the Father provided Jesus what was needed.


Have you ever had a moment when everything seemed completely lost? Can you imagine the helplessness of everyone who loved Jesus as they took His body down from that cross?


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