April 20, 2019

The Temporary Tomb

John 19:38-42

Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

—  John 19:42

When people get older, they think about arranging for a burial place or making funeral plans. After all, we are mortal, and our bodies break down and die.

Executed on a cross, Jesus had made no preparations for his burial, and most of his followers had scattered. Was his body simply to be dumped in a common grave for prisoners and debtors? The body of the Son of Man, who had “no place to lay his head” while he was alive (Luke 9:58), needed a tomb to borrow. This called for the help of Joseph and Nicodemus. Earlier these men were afraid to be known as Jesus’ followers, but now they came forward to give his body an honorable resting place. They used their connections with the governor, Pilate, to ask permission to take Jesus’ body for burial.

Pilate approved. After all, Jesus was dead and had to be buried. Joseph and Nicodemus had resources to prepare the body, and they had a place to bury it. So they wrapped Jesus’ body in linen and with burial spices and set it in Joseph’s own tomb nearby (see Matthew 27:57-60). They did all this quickly before sunset on Friday, because it was the “day of Preparation” for the weekly Sabbath on Saturday.

Imagine the fear and sadness of Jesus’ followers hiding behind closed doors that day. What a cheerless Sabbath!

But we know that tomb was just a temporary resting place. And by faith in Jesus, we know that’s true for us too!

God, thank you for the assurance that, like Jesus, we too will be raised. Lord Jesus, come quickly! Amen.

About the author — George Vink

Pastor George Vink has served as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church for more than 30 years in British Columbia, Montana, Michigan, and California. He and his wife, Shirley, have four married sons and nine grandchildren.

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