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Mark’s first-century biography – page 49

And evening having already come (in Jerusalem, c. AD 30), since it was a preparation day, which is a day before the Sabbath, Joseph, having come from Arimathea, a respected councillor, who also himself was looking forward to the kingdom of God, acting courageously, came in up to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 
Jesus is dead. But his dead body remains on a cross at the Place of a Skull. It’s a “preparation day” so, as soon as the sun sets on that day, a Sabbath will begin and all work will cease in Jerusalem among the people of God.

Before this week closes, therefore (it’s imminent because “evening having already come”), something needs to be done (by those who care) about the dead body of Jesus hanging on this Roman cross. 

This man Joseph is an interesting character. He’s a member of the Sanhedrin, the governing council of Jerusalem, and therefore similar to a member of the States of Jersey. He’s from Arimathea (meaning “heights”) which is a town about five miles from Jerusalem. It’s as if a States member, living at Quennevais, come into St Helier from there in order to see the Lieutenant Governor to ask for a criminal’s dead body.

“Acting courageously”? Well, I suppose so. After all, it must be risky to associate oneself with a known, recently executed criminal, never mind the resulting reputational damage. But the thing which overcame these was the fact that he “also himself was looking forward to the kingdom of God”. Future hope conquered present fear. He entered into Pilate’s holy of holies. Just as Christians do now from time to time….

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.’ (G K Chesterton, writer, 1874-1936)
But Pilate was surprised if he was already dead. And, summoning near the centurion, he questioned him whether he was long dead. And having learned from the centurion, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 

Pilate wasn’t an easy touch. At first, things didn’t add up. Could Jesus already be dead? He didn’t want to find that this man remained alive given his order that he be crucified. His centurion supplied the required assurance.

And Joseph, having purchased a linen sheet and having taken him down, wrapped him in the linen sheet and placed him in a tomb which was hewn out of rock. 

This man was well organised. He had already purchased a shroud. He had an empty rock-hewn tomb available. He took Jesus’ dead body down from the cross and wrapped it in the shroud.

And he rolled a stone over the entrance to the tomb. 

A large stone “over the entrance”, making the burial permanent and precluding entry and exit. Generally, such stones were rolled downhill after burial, meaning that when a later cadaver needed to be place in the same tomb it was an uphill task to move the stone.

Joseph “was looking forward to the kingdom of God”. Was there going to be a very long wait.? 

‘The only kingdom that will prevail in this world Is the kingdom that is not of this world.’ (Anon.)
But Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where he was placed.  

Two ladies had not stopped watching the dead body and what happened to it. They wanted to attend to and take care of the body – but who would move the stone?

Sinner Syvret

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