Treason against the Roman government was the crime for which the Saviour was condemned. Persons put to death for this cause were buried in a place set apart for such criminals.
John shuddered at the thought of having the body of his beloved Master handled by the unfeeling soldiers, and buried in a dishonoured grave. But he saw no way to prevent it, as he had no influence with Pilate.
At this trying time, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea came to the help of the disciples.Both of these men were members of the Sanhedrin, and were acquainted with Pilate. Both were men of wealth and influence. They were determined that the Saviour's body should have an honourable burial.
Joseph went boldly to Pilate, and begged from him the body of Jesus. Pilate, after learning that Christ was really dead, granted this request.
While Joseph was gone to Pilate for the Saviour's body, Nicodemus was making ready for the burial. It was the
custom in those times to wrap the bodies of the dead in linen cloths, with precious ointments and sweet spices. This was one method of embalming. So Nicodemus brought a costly gift of about a hundred pounds' weight of myrrh and aloes for the body of Jesus.
The most honoured in all Jerusalem could not have been shown more respect in death. The humble followers of Jesus were astonished to see these wealthy rulers taking such an interest in the burial of their Master.
The disciples were overwhelmed with sorrow at the death of Christ. They forgot that He had told them it was to take place. They were without hope. Neither Joseph nor Nicodemus had openly accepted the Saviour while He was living. But they had listened to His teachings, and had closely watched every step of His ministry.Although the disciples had forgotten the Saviour's words foretelling His death,Joseph and Nicodemus remembered them well. And the scenes connected with the death of Jesus, which disheartened the disciples, and shook their faith, only proved to these rulers that He was the true Messiah, and led them to take their stand firmly as believers in Him.
The help of these rich and honoured men was greatly needed at this time. They could do for their dead Master what it was impossible for the poor disciples to do.
Gently and reverently they, with their own hands, removed the body of Christ from the cross. Their tears of sympathy fell fast, as they looked upon His bruised and torn form.
Joseph owned anew tomb hewn in a rock. He had built it for his own use; but he now prepared it for Jesus. The body, together with the spices brought by Nicodemus, was
wrapped in a linen sheet, and the Redeemer was borne to the tomb.
Although the Jewish rulers had succeeded in putting Christ to death, they could not rest easy. They well knew of His mighty power.
Some of them had stood by the grave of Lazarus, and had seen the dead brought back to life, and they trembled for fear that Christ would Himself rise from the dead, and again appear before them.
They had heard Him say to the multitude that He had power to lay down His life and to take it again.
They remembered that He had said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19), and they knew that He was speaking of His own body.
Judas had told them that Christ had said to His disciples on their last journey to Jerusalem:
"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priest sand unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again." Matthew 20:18, 19.
They now remembered many things He had spoken which foretold His resurrection. They could not forget these things, however much they desired to do so. Like their father,the devil, they believed and trembled.
Everything declared to them that Jesus was the Son of God. They could not sleep, for they were more troubled about Him in death than they had been during His life.
Bent on doing all they could to keep Him in the grave, they asked Pilate to have the tomb sealed and guarded until
the third day.Pilate placed a band of soldiers at the command of the priests, and said:
"Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch." Matthew 27:65, 66.