Matthew 27:55-66 “He Was Buried”

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church Manhattan KS, 12 Jan 2014

Grey text indicates portions edited out at the last minute to keep the sermon under 40 minutes.


27:55 Now many women were there viewing from a distance –

women who had followed Jesus from Galilee, serving Him,

27:56 among whom were Mary Magdalene,

and Mary the mother of James and Joseph,

and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

27:57 Well, after it began to get late, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph arrived

who also himself was a disciple of Jesus.

27:58 This man had approached Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus for himself.

Then Pilate had ordered the body to be given back.

27:59 So Joseph, after receiving the body, wrapped it in clean linen,

27:60 and placed it in his new memorial which he had cut into the rock

and, after rolling a big stone in the door of the memorial, he went away.

27:61 And so Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there out in front of the tomb.


27:62 Now, on the following day, that is, after the day of preparation [for Passover],

 the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled themselves before Pilate

27:63 saying, “Sir, we were reminded that that erratic man said while He was still living,

‘After three days I am being resurrected.’

27:64 Therefore, order for the tomb to be made unbreachable until the third day;

otherwise His disciples might come and steal it

and say to the people, ‘He was raised from the dead!’

and the last error will be worse than the first.”

27:65 But Pilate stated,

“Y’all have a custody-guard; go on, make it unbreachable for yourselves, as you [well] know.”

27:66 So they proceeded and made the tomb unbreachable,

having sealed the stone in addition to there being the custody-guard.


·         “Now, I am making known to you, brothers, the gospel: which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you have been standing, through which also you are being saved… that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He has been raised during the third day according to the scriptures…” (NAW) First Corinthians 15:1-4 seems to indicate three key points in the Gospel:

o       the fact that Jesus died for our sins,

o       the fact that Jesus was buried,

o       and the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead.

·         We Christians have always made much of Jesus’ death, and we make much of His resurrection, but what is good news about His burial? Why should Jesus’ burial be an important part of the Gospel message?

·         Hold that thought as we go into Matthew’s account of Jesus’ burial. As we begin this account, what strikes me most is all the people involved. Matthew begins by introducing us to people who loved Jesus, and concludes the burial section by describing people who hated Jesus. Let’s start with the people who loved Jesus:


27:55 Now many women were there viewing from a distance – women who had followed Jesus from Galilee, serving Him,

Ησαν δε εκει γυναικες πολλαι απο μακροθεν[1] θεωρουσαι ‘αιτινες ηκολουθησαν τῷ Ιησου απο της Γαλιλαιας διακονουσαι αυτῷ


27:56 among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons[2] of Zebedee.

Εν αἷς ην Μαρια ‘η Μαγδαληνη και Μαρια ‘η του Ιακωβου και Ιωση[3] μητηρ και ‘η μητηρ των ‘υιων Ζεβεδαιου

·         Zebedee, you may remember, owned a fishing business back in Capernaum at the north end of the Lake of Galilee. Did the whole family go off and follow Jesus when He left Capernaum for Jerusalem? Or did they leave Zebedee behind? Or had he died? We just don’t know[4].

o       None of the other parallel gospels mention “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” being there with the two Marys, but Mark 15:40 mentions a woman named Salome, whom I think was the name of the mother of the sons of Zebedee.[5]

o       Remember, this mom was the one who had asked Jesus to elevate her sons to the highest status among the disciples (Mt. 2:20ff), but Matthew does not mention her name – perhaps she learned her lesson from Jesus to be humble and not seek a name for herself.

·         Magdalene, means “tower” in Hebrew, and, as best I can tell, refers to a little town on the eastern shore of the Lake of Galilee, about in the middle. So Mary of Magdalene also came from Galilee.

o       We know that Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2),

o       and it’s possible she was the one who anointed Jesus’ head and feet with perfume in Bethany near Jerusalem a few days before Jesus was crucified[6].

·         Now, who was the mother of James and Joseph (or Joses, as the KJV & NIV render it – same name)?

o       Some scholars (Theodoret, JFB, Hendriksen) assert that this Mary is actually the sister of Jesus’ mother, and the wife of Clopas, but would Mary’s parents really have named both their daughters “Mary,” and would both Marys have given their sons the same names?

o       The only other time we see these brothers James and Joseph together in the Bible is Matthew 13:55, where Jesus’ mother and brothers came by the house where Jesus was teaching[7].

o       I think this is Jesus’ mother Mary, and although Jesus acknowledged His responsibility for her as his mother by setting up a house for the family in Capernaum at the beginning of the Gospel accounts, and now at the end of the Gospel accounts He acknowledged His family relationship on the cross by transferring His responsibility as the oldest son to John to care for His mother, perhaps Mary herself did not make a big deal over the fact that she was Jesus’ mother, and that could explain why Matthew identifies her as the mother of James and Joseph rather than by the more sensational title of “Mother of our Lord.”

·         These are just three examples of the “many” women who were there as followers of Jesus[8]. He was immensely popular; the word “many” is used seven other times throughout the Gospel of Matthew to describe the masses who followed Him:

o       Matthew 4:25 Many crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.

o       Matthew 8:1 When Jesus came down from the mountain, many crowds followed Him.

o       Matthew 12:15b Many followed Him, and He healed them all,

o       Matthew 13:2a And many crowds gathered to Him…

o       Matthew 15:30 And many crowds came to Him… [laying their sick] at His feet; and He healed them.

o       Matthew 19:2 Many crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.

o       Matthew 20:29 As they were leaving Jericho, many crowds followed Him.

o       This word “many” also occurred a couple verses earlier to describe how many Godly people were raised from the dead along with Jesus, and I imagine they formed an amazing company which told people in Jerusalem – in no uncertain terms – that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and they’d better believe in Him! (And perhaps this is why Peter got such a good response to His preaching in Jerusalem 50 days later in Acts chapter 2!) [9]

o       But for whatever reason, Matthew has not mentioned until now the fact that there were women who were part of Jesus’ entourage, and not just a few but “many” women who had travelled with Him from Galilee down to Jerusalem along with His disciples.

·         Notice what characterized these women’s actions throughout that time: they were “ministering to Him” (caring for His needsNIV). This Greek verb describing their actions has the same root as our English word “deacon” – one who serves.

o       We saw this word back in Matt. 4:11 when angels refreshed Jesus after His 40-day fast,

o       We saw it in 8:15 when Peter’s mother-in-law fixed a meal for Jesus as soon as she was healed.

o       We saw it in 20:28 when Jesus said that He didn’t come to be served but to serve and give His life. (Perhaps that was when he was washing His disciple’s feet.)

o       And the word also occurs in 25:44, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, where “service” is explained as giving food, drink, shelter, clothing, and medical care to those in need.

o       And that’s probably what these women did: set up camping spots, gathered firewood, cooked food, drew water, cleaned up messes, washed and mended laundry, and comforted sick people while they waited for Jesus to come around and heal them.

o       Nowadays, with the advent of dish-washers and clothes-washers and central heat, we don’t have to spend quite so much time at some of those tasks, but what are we spending our freed-up time on? Is it in service, or is it spent chatting about (and learning about) things that will not be important ten years from now?

o       For the last several decades, Americans have been raising daughters with a focus on preparing themselves for a career, but consider what we could do for the progress of the Gospel if we had a bunch of women who came to the table with no agenda of their own, just a desire to serve the Lord where needed! It would revolutionize the non-profit sector. It would change the world!

·         Well, these women in Matthew’s gospel are “beholding afar offKJV” – “looking on/watching from a [safe] distanceNIV” and grieving as this man that they had left everything to serve – slowly died.


27:57 Well, after it began to get late[10], a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph arrived – who also himself was a disciple of Jesus.

Οψιας δε γενομενης ηλθεν ανθρωπος πλουσιος απο Αριμαθαιας τουνομα Ιωσηφ ‘ος και αυτος εμαθητευσεν[11] τῷ Ιησου


27:58 This man had approached Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus for himself. Then Pilate had ordered the body to be given back.

‘Ουτος προσελθων τῷ Πιλατω ητησατο το σωμα του Ιησου. τοτε ‘ο Πιλατος εκελευσεν αποδοθηναι το σωμα[12]

·         Who was Joseph of Arimathea?

o       Up to this point, Joseph had been a “secret” follower “for fear of the Jews,” (John 19:38).

o       Luke 23:50-51 adds that Joseph “was a [prominent – Mark 15:43] member of the Sanhed­rin” (Supreme Court), from the Jewish city of Arimathea (in central Israel, NE of Jeru­salem about 20 miles). He was “a good and righteous man… who was waiting for the kingdom of God,” and he “had not consented to the plan and action” of the Jewish leaders to crucify Jesus.

o       We have no further explicit information from the Bible as to how Joseph of Arimathea had been discipled by Jesus, but I have a hypothesis that he might have been the “rich young ruler” who encountered Jesus on the way to Jerusalem in Matt. 19:16ff and asked if there was anything more he had to do to inherit eternal life. Maybe that was how he came under the teaching of Jesus, or maybe not; he could just as well have sat under Jesus’ teaching in the temple earlier that week.

·         At any rate, Joseph, as a prominent Jewish leader, would have been acquainted with Governor Pilate, so Joseph speaks with Pilate about his desire to give Jesus a proper Jewish burial.

o       This required courage on Joseph’s part because it flew in the face of the majority’s intent to treat Jesus as dishonorably as possible.

o       Jesus had been delivered over to the civil government for capital punishment, so it was the Roman governor and soldiers who had the responsibility to dispose of Jesus’ dead body, and it was to them that Joseph went to get permission to have that responsibility transferred back to himself as a private citizen[13].

o       Pilate already had regrets about condemning Jesus to death, so he proved sympathetic to Joseph’s request, and he gave the command to the squad of soldiers responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion to deliver the body to Joseph.

·         Jesus died around 3pm, and then at sunset, around 6pm, the Jewish Sabbath would begin, so everybody was hurrying to bring the executions to closure so they wouldn’t profane the Sabbath. Thus Joseph arrives at the cross late in the afternoon to pick up the body.


27:59 So Joseph, after receiving the body, wrapped it in clean linen,

Και λαβων το σωμα ‘ο Ιωσηφ ενετυλιξεν αυτο [14] σινδονι καθαρᾷ


27:60 and placed it in his new memorial which he had cut into the rock, and, after rolling a big stone into the doorway of the memorial, he went away.

και εθηκεν αυτο[15] εν τῷ καινῷ αυτου μνημειῳ ‘ὸ ελατομησεν[16] εν τῇ πετρᾳ και προσκυλισας λιθον μεγαν τῇ θυρᾳ του μνημειου απηλθεν

·         Why do the gospel writers go to the trouble of telling us that this burial shroud was “clean” and new (Mark 15:46)? And why does Luke 23:53 tell us that it was a brand-new tomb which had never been used before? The only answer I can come up with is that these were ways of showing importance and respect for Jesus and all that He stood for[17].

o       The soldiers had taken Jesus’ clothes, and, as a criminal, His body could have been left outside to the elements and the wild animals, or maybe thrown naked into a hole with the other criminals, or maybe stuffed into a dirty old sack,

o       but instead, Jesus’ body was being treated as something special. Joseph went and bought fine linen cloth and perfume to wrap it up in, and he, together with his buddy Nicodemus (also a secret follower of Jesus – John 19:39, John 3) carried the body, wrapped in that cloth, into his own special burial cave which had never touched death before, and he laid it to rest there.

·         It is my understanding that these burial places were generally set up for an entire family, so, unless Joseph was counting on Jesus being raised from the dead, we are left to presume that Joseph was setting himself and his entire family up to be buried next to the bones of Jesus, as though he wanted to claim Jesus as part of his very own family legacy.

·         Now, was this burial cloth the same as the Shroud of Turin?

o       When I was younger, I read a lot about it, and I’m skeptical.

o       If the real cloth is out there somewhere, and if someone can prove that it’s the real thing, then that’s great; hopefully it will get more people thinking about Jesus.

o       But as for us, we have an accurate account in the Biblical Gospels of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and that is enough.

·         What about the stone?[18]

o       What was that for? Perhaps it was to keep wild animals from getting in and messing with the body, or perhaps it was to discourage lone bandits from robbing the grave.

o       How big was it? The three women who returned later to the tomb were afraid that the stone was too heavy for them to move (Mark 16:3), so the stone must have been so largeNAS,NKJ that it took multiple men to move it into[19] place to block the entrance of the tomb. Matthew tells us that Joseph was a “rich” man, so he probably had several attendants with him to do the grunt work. It was a greatKJV,ESV bigNIV stone.

o       Once again, it shows the greatness of the honor which Joseph wanted to give to Jesus despite the great humiliation Jesus had suffered.

·         How can we be like Joseph of Arimathea and show honor to Jesus today?

o       How can we demonstrate, by the way we act and by the way we spend our money and time, that Jesus is of extraordinary value to us? What can you do in your day-to-day life to show the world that Jesus is special to you?

o       It’s the very first request in the Lord’s Prayer, “Let your name be hallowed/honored/made special.”

o       Joseph of Arimathea bought extra-nice, new cloth and gave Jesus the best memorial in town, and protected it extra-well with a huge stone.

o       Traditionally, Christian communities have spent extravagantly to make their church buildings the nicest buildings in town; church-goers have worn their nicest clothes to worship; and have been careful throughout the week to speak the names of God only with reverence.

o       I encourage you to brainstorm at home today some practical ways you can give that extra effort yourself to show the world that Jesus is someone you honor!

·         Well, Joseph went away probably to join his family in some palatial accommodation reserved for the Passover holiday, and that left two very lonely women huddled there as the sun sank into the darkness of night.


27:61 And so Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there out in front of the tomb.

Ην δε εκει Μαρια[20] ‘η Μαγδαληνη και ‘η αλλη Μαρια καθημεναι απεναντι[21] του ταφου

·         Now, what was Jesus doing at this time?

o       There are Bible scholars in the past who have taken Ephesians 4:8 (about Jesus descending into the earth and ascending, leading captives in His train) together with the end of Colossians 2 (about Jesus disarming the authorities and making a spectacle of them), and the end of 1 Peter 3 (about Christ preaching to disobedient people from Noah’s day whose spirits were imprisoned) to mean that, while Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, His soul went to hell and preached the Gospel, paid some kind of ransom to Satan, released a bunch of people from hell, led them up to heaven, and thus embarrassed Satan.

o       That makes for a dramatic story, but I think it is mistaken for three reasons:

§         First: those passages from Ephesians, Col., and 1 Peter used to support this position do not explicitly say this (and can be reasonably construed to be saying something different),

§         Second: it contradicts what the scriptures say about the afterlife and about God’s mercy and justice (I’ll get more into that in a second.),

§         and Third: there are other reasonable explanations.

o       Regarding the other reasonable interpretations,

§         I think 1 Peter 3 is talking about Noah preaching while he built the ark,

§         I think Col. 2 is speaking in general of the results of Jesus’ death for our sins,

§         and I think Eph. 4 is speaking of Jesus’ burial and His later ascension into heaven.

o       Regarding contradictions to other parts of scripture, consider this: Earlier that afternoon, Jesus had told the repentant thief on the other cross, “today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). By the time Jesus was buried, it was no longer “today.”

·         I believe that Jesus – at least in His human nature – underwent something like what we can expect in death – we who have been made right with God through Him.

o       In Philippians 1, the apostle Paul taught that, for him, “to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord,”

o       and that fits with what Jesus taught in the parable of the poor, sick man Lazarus, who went to heaven and was hugged in the “bosom of Abraham” when he died (Luke 16:22).

o       So, that Friday evening, and all day Saturday, and for a couple of the wee hours of the morning Sunday, Jesus was absent from His body and present with the Lord together with the saints in heaven.

o       From that position, Jesus would be reunited with a perfected version of His human body raised from death Sunday morning, but I’m getting ahead of myself!

·         Verse 62 takes us back to what the Jewish leaders were doing.

o       The “day of preparation” mentioned in v.62 was the day that the Jews who celebrated the Passover on the Sabbath day used to prepare for their Passover celebration and slaughter their Passover lambs (Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:14&31). That was Friday, the day they killed Jesus.

o       Now the sun has set, and the Sabbath day has begun, according to the Jewish reckoning, but, instead of celebrating Passover by reveling in the deliverance that God wrought from slavery in Egypt, the priests were preoccupied with keeping Jesus under wraps.

o       It’s always a problem when, instead of doing what God has commanded us to do in the present, we occupy ourselves with trying to control the future.

o       The Pharisees weren’t happy about what Joseph of Arimathea had done in taking Jesus’ body out of the custody of the Roman soldiers, so they gather together to bring a counter-proposal before the governor:


27:62 Now, on the following day, that is, after the day of preparation [for Passover], the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled themselves before Pilate

Τῇ δε επαυριον ‘ητις εστιν μετα την παρασκευην συνηχθησαν ‘οι αρχιερεις και ‘οι Φαρισαιοι προς Πιλατον


27:63 saying, “Sir[22], we were reminded that that erratic man said while He was still living, ‘After three days I am being resurrected.’

λεγοντες Κυριε εμνησθημεν ‘οτι εκεινος ‘ο πλανος ειπεν ετι ζων Μετα τρεις ‘ημερας εγειρομαι[23]


27:64 Therefore, order for the tomb to be made unbreachable until the third day; otherwise His disciples might come and steal it and say to the people, ‘He was raised from the dead!’ and the last error will be worse than the first.”

Κελευσον ουν ασφαλισθηναι[24] τον ταφον ‘εως της τριτης ‘ημερας μηποτε ελθοντες ‘οι μαθηται αυτου [25] κλεψωσιν αυτον και ειπωσιν τῷ λαῷ Ηγερθη απο των νεκρων και εσται ‘η εσχατη πλανη[26] χειρων της πρωτης

·         It is my understanding that the Greek word planos (from which we get our word “planet”) has more to do with wandering astray and not following a straight course than it has to do with actively deceiving other people (although it doesn’t exclude the effect of deception on others), hence I’ve used the word “erratic” in my translation[27]. The priests in their blind hatred use this slur instead of the name of Jesus to identify Him.

·         Their spies had overheard Jesus in Galilee some time ago prophesying that He would rise from the dead, and they’re worried that the disciples will fake a resurrection by removing Jesus’ dead body from the tomb, hiding it, and claiming that Jesus was no longer dead.

o       It is a human tendency to project our own sins upon others and worry about other people doing the same sort of things we would excuse in ourselves.

o       Faking a fulfillment to prophecy was the sort of thing those Pharisees would have done (as indeed they did fake an alternate story to explain the resurrection),

o       but it was the last thing on the minds of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus’ followers were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead,

§         as evidenced by the conversation of the men on the road to Emmaus,

§         and by the disbelief of the disciples in the upper room even when Jesus appeared alive to them.

§         Chrysostom noted, “…if the chief of them [Peter] endured not the speech of a woman, keeping the door, and if all the rest too, on seeing Him bound, were scattered abroad, how should they have thought to run to the ends of the earth, and plant a feigned tale of a resurrection?” The priests’ fear is ridiculous.

·         But the priest’s request is that Pilate do whatever it takes to make that tomb “secure” so that they can be sureKJV that nobody will disturb the body of Jesus for at least three days.

o       Then, after three days the priests can tell the people in the temple, “See, we were right! He said He would come back to life in three days, but it’s been more than three days and He hasn’t risen. Therefore he was a false prophet, and He deserved to die.

o       “He was a fraud when He said He was the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and He was a fraud when he said He could beat death. We saw through that con artist’s smoke and mirrors, we priests did!”

o       Funny how the very attempts they made to prove Jesus false became proofs that supported His message[28]. Now everybody knows that Jesus really was dead and that something supernatural happened to His body, because the religious and civil government had worked together in collusion to make sure that the body couldn’t possibly have been stolen. In order to get out of that tomb, Jesus had to burst through an impregnable wall of rock and knock out a whole detachment of armed guards, and that’s exactly what He did the next morning! But again, I’m getting ahead of myself!


27:65 But Pilate stated, “Y’all have a custody-guard; go on, make it unbreachable for yourselves, as you [well] know.”

Εφη [δε[29]] αυτοις ‘ο Πιλατος Εχετε κουστωδιαν ‘υπαγετε ασφαλισασθε[30] ‘ως οιδατε

·         From the curt response, it seems Pilate is a bit irritated[31], but there is some debate about what exactly he is saying.

o       Both the Imperative and the Indicative forms of the Greek verb for “have” are spelled the same,

§         so Pilate’s statement could be interpreted Imperatively along the lines of John Calvin and the NIV, “Keep using my detachment of soldiers and get out of my hair,”

§         or it could be interpreted Indicatively along the lines of the KJV and NASB, “Look, why are you coming to me about this? You already have your own guards and you already know how to do these sorts of things. Go on and do it yourself.”

o       I believe the former is the case because in the next chapter, it is clear that these soldiers are under Pilate’s authority[32].


27:66 So they proceeded and made the tomb unbreachable, having sealed the stone in addition to there being[33] the custody-guard.

‘Οι δε πορευθεντες ησφαλισαντο τον ταφον σφραγισαντες τον λιθον μετα της κουστωδιας

·         The Greek word for “seal” is used in a couple of different senses which might apply here.

o       In one sense it is used to describe pressing a specially-designed signet ring into a puddle of melted wax to show that it was indeed a ruling official who wrote or did something[34]. We have this expression in English, “He put his seal of approval on it.”

o       In another sense, “to seal” means to conceal, or to make inaccessible, as in “my sister is a locked garden, a sealed-off spring” (Song of Solomon 4:12)[35]

o       In Daniel 6:17 a very similar thing happened to Daniel as happened to Jesus, showing that both senses of “sealing” could apply at the same time: When Daniel was put into the cave that had lions in it, “…they brought a stone, and put it on the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his ring, and with the ring of his nobles; that the case might not be altered with regard to Daniel.” (Brenton)

o       Nobody could get in or out, and even if someone tried, it would break the wax seals which warned them that they would get into trouble with the law if they tried to break in.

·         So here in Jesus’ case, between the huge stone that no one person could move, and the “No Trespassing” seal, and this special custody-guard of soldiers, there could be absolutely no funny business with Jesus’ body. He was dead and buried, and that was that – or so everyone thought!

In Conclusion:

·         I want to come back to the question I started out with: “What is so significant about the burial of Jesus that it is listed by the Apostle Paul as one of the three key points of the Gospel?”
Let me suggest three answers I think are all valid:

o       First: it confirms that Jesus actually died.
If the punishment for our sin is death, then Jesus had to really suffer death to lift the wrath of God off of us. The fact that He was buried is good news because it means He died. Anyone who claims that Jesus didn’t really die is an enemy of the Gospel.

o       Second: it fulfills prophecy.
Isaiah had written that the Messiah’s “grave was given to be with wicked men, however, in His martyrdom, it was with a rich man, because He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth… [for] He gave Himself as a sin-offering” (Isa. 53:9 NAW). This remarkably-specific prophecy, given 700 years before Jesus, about the expectation of His burial with criminals giving way to a burial with a wealthy man, is just one more confirmation that Jesus really was the Messiah provided by God to deal with the problem of sin, and this is good news!

o       Third: The burial of Jesus is typical of the way in which God normally works.

§         He allows death to sink in before bringing revival.

§         He allowed Adam and Eve to sink into the corruption of sin before promising the seed to crush the serpent’s head.

§         He allowed mankind to become desperately wicked before washing the earth clean in Noah’s flood.

§         He allowed Jonah to die in the belly of the fish before restoring Him to service.

§         He allowed Israel to scrape bottom spiritually and go into exile before sending Jesus.

§         He allows Satan to have his 1000 years of havoc before the second coming.

§         The good news is that the bad news has an end.

§         Do things look bleak right now? That’s o.k. God is going to bring glorious breakthroughs if we patiently trust Him. In the end, Jesus will eradicate every trace of evil from our lives, and it will be glorious!

·         What should our response be to this awesome savior and this good news?

o       The women in this story provide a good example for us. Mary and Mary and Salome were the first believers to utter the Gospel to anybody – they passed along what they saw of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who, in turn wrote it down for us! Let us, then, in our turn, pass along this good news to still others!

o       Secondly, the women along with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus provide us with good examples of showing honor to Jesus.

§         John Calvin wrote, “…if, through a holy desire to honor Christ, Joseph assumed such courage, while Christ was hanging on the cross, woe to our slothfulness, if, now that He has risen from the dead, an equal zeal, at least, to glorify him do not burn in our hearts.”

§         How do we honor him? One way is through service, like that of the women of Galilee – feeding the hungry and thirsty, sheltering and clothing the needy, healing the sick and visiting the lonely, honoring them just as we would honor Christ Himself.

·         Jesus was buried. That means He really fulfilled prophecy and paid the price for our sins. It means we have a bright future to look forward to! Let us spread this good news and spend our lives in service to honor our savior!

[1] This same word is used of Peter when he followed Jesus “at a distance” into the High Priest’s courtyard.

[2] The KJV translation makes a good point that if Zebedee and his wife had other sons and daughters besides James and John, then this woman was the mother of all their “children,” not just of the “sons,” and the Greek word huiwn can be accurately translated either way.

[3] Proper names transliterated from Aramaic naturally get a variety of spellings in the Greek New Testament. I’m following the majority of Greek manuscripts supported by some of the oldest-known (A, B, C, etc.), as the KJV and NIV do, but the Critical editions read Ιωσηφ, following a few ancient manuscripts (א, D, L, W, Θ –precious little support in later manuscripts), and that correlates to the English spelling “Joseph” found in the NAS & ESV.

[4] It is possible to interpret the Greek the way the ESV does and say that the second Mary was both the mother of James and Joses as well as the mother of the sons of Zebedee. All the rest of the English versions I looked at put a comma inbetween, interpreting the mother of James and John as being a different person. I have heard conjecture that Jesus’ earthly father Joseph died when Jesus was young, and that Mary re-married. I don’t know how much stock to put in that tradition, but Alpheas or Cleopas is the name of the man she is said to have married, not Zebedee, so I think this is another woman.

[5] This is the position of JFB, ATR, and Hendriksen. Luke (24:10) also mentions a woman named Joanna, and John (19:25) mentions a Mary who was the wife of Clopas. Zebedee would have had to die and she would have had to remarry pretty quickly for her to be that third Mary.

[6] Although Vincent and ATR vigorously deny this.

[7] Chrysostom calls her the “step-mother” of these children; ATR says it was an “unknown” woman.

[8] Calvin suggests plausibly that these women were the witnesses of the entire crucifixion and burial sequence from whom the Gospel writers drew their accounts.

[9] “Many” will not be saved (Matthew 7:13, 7:22, 22:14, 24:5, 10-12), but then again “many” will be saved: Matthew 26:28 “…My blood of the covenant poured out for many,” Matthew 8:11 “…many will come from east and west… into the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 9:37 “The harvest is many…,” Matthew 20:28 “the Son of Man… came to give His life a ransom for many.”

[10] During the intervening time, John 19:31ff informs us that the soldiers hastened the death of the crucified men by breaking their legs, but they didn’t break Jesus’ legs because He was already dead. They pierced His side and saw the confirmation of it that His blood was already separating because it was no longer being pumped by His heart.

[11] This is the reading of the Patristic and Textus Receptus editions of the Greek New Testament, following the majority of Greek manuscripts, including some of the oldest-known (A, B, L, W, etc.). Critical editions spell this word in the passive voice (εμαθητευθη) following a smattering of Greek manuscripts across history (incl. א, C, D, Θ, f1), but all the standard English translations – even the ones who use the Critical text – render this verb as active.

[12] Critical editions of the GNT omit these last two words because they are not found in the two oldest-known Greek uncials from the 4th Century (א and B), but they are found in practically all the rest of the thousands of manuscripts, starting from the 5th Century onward (A, C, D, etc.). Without this phrase, there is no object for the verb “commanded/ ordered,” so, in their attempts to follow the omission in the Critical text, the NAS, ESV, and NIV translations all add the word “it” (which is not explicitly in the Greek) to make up for it.

[13] The apo- prefix could also connote that Pilate owed Joseph a political favor for something Joseph had done for him, so now the favor was being returned. Without any evidence of this, I am interpreting the prefix in the sense that Jesus, as a Jew had come under the responsibility of the Roman civil government when he was judged to be a Roman criminal, but now his body was being remanded to the Jews to no longer be a concern of the Roman state.

[14] Three ancient Greek manuscripts (B, D, Θ) add the word “in” (ev) here, and the editors of the later Critical texts decided to pick it up (Westcott did not include it in his critical edition for good reason.). The majority Greek manuscripts, including the majority of the oldest-known Greek manuscripts do not have this preposition in it. The Dative case of “clean” and “linen” make the stand-alone preposition unnecessary, so there is no difference in meaning. This linen is what Sampson wagered (Judges 14:12), what the Proverbs 31 woman made (v.24), and what Mark was wearing in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:51); no other instances of the word occur in the Greek Bible.

[15] Several Greek manuscripts omit this pronoun (א, L, Θ, f13, 33, 892), but the editors of the Patristic, Textus Receptus, and Critical editions agreed on considering the word original to Matthew’s text. The only surprising thing about this to me is that the Critical editions did not consider this grounds for varying from the traditional text like they did with very similar variants in v.58 (+ en supported by B, D, Θ) and v.60 (- to swma supported by א, B, L, f1, 33, 892).

[16] Only used of hewing stone – to quarry stone building blocks (1Chr. 22:2), water from a well-shaft, or metal ore (Job 28:2).

[17]to wipe away the reproach of the cross by the honor of burial” ~John Calvin

[18] Perhaps there was an actual door in the doorway but it didn’t have a latch, so the rock was to keep the door shut. However, it would not take such a large rock to do that. In the Greek Bible, the thuria could refer to the doorway through which a person could pass in and out of a building (“enter through the narrow doorway” Luke 13:24), or to the actual door which could be knocked upon (Luke 13:25). In most cases, it is hard to tell for sure whether the “doorway” or the “door” is being referred to. At any rate, people in the Bible usually had some means by which to close doorways in their dwellings (Mt. 6:6). Vincent claimed that Jewish sepulchers usually had doors with hinges.

[19] The parallel passage in Mark 15:46 uses the preposition epi “upon” the doorway.

[20] As is typical with transliterations of Aramaic names into the Greek New Testament, there are variant spellings which do not change the meaning. A significant stream of Greek manuscripts spell this name with an “m” on the end of it Μαριαμ (“Mariam” - א, B, , L, Δ, Θ, f1), and the Critical editions use that spelling, but all the English translations go with the spelling of the majority of Greek manuscripts “Mary,” supported by the Patristic and Textus Receptus editions.

[21] The KJV interprets this preposition as though they were sitting with their backs up against the sepulcher, but I interpret the “apo” prefix to mean “away from” as though they were sitting in front of the tomb, staring at the closed doorway. The same preposition is used of Pilate’s position in front of (27:24) the people when he washed his hands following Jesus’ civil trial.

[22] Literally, “Lord” or “Master” – same as Matthew 13:27; 18:26; 25:11,20,22,24,37,44; 27:63.

[23] We don’t have a quote in the Bible from Jesus that matches what the Pharisees tell Pilate, but it’s possible that Mark 8:31 gives the occasion on which He said this quote. The present tense of “rise/be resurrected” is interesting, since it would have been future to His quote. The NAS solves the awkwardness of the grammar by rendering this Indicative Greek verb as an Infinitive in order to preserve the Present tense, but the KJV, ESV, and NIV just render it in English as Future tense. JFB interpret the present tense as confidence in the truth of His prophetic word.

[24] Here’s every instance of this verb and its related noun in the Greek Bible: Proverbs 3:18; 8:28; 15:7; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 27:64,65,66; Acts 16:24; 21:34; 22:30; 25:26; Philippians 3:1; Hebrews 6:19.

[25] Around the 8th Century, the word νυκτος (“by night”) started appearing in Greek manuscripts and was incorporated in the majority of the manuscripts copied after that time, so it is in the Patristic and Textus Receptus editions of the GNT (and therefore in the KJV), but it is not in the Latin or Coptic versions or in any of the known Greek uncials from the first seven centuries. In addition, a significant number of Greek manuscripts carried the text without νυκτος well into the Middle Ages so I did not include it either. Curiously, half of the Uncials which support this insertion (Γ, S) were removed from the UBS list of Uncials (without a good explanation) between the 3rd (Corrected) and 4th revised edition. Also, for what it’s worth, the two oldest-known Greek uncial manuscripts omit the pronoun autou (“His”), so Westcott omitted it from his early Critical edition, but since no other manuscript apparently supports that omission, Aland and co. put it back in.

[26] Strangely reminiscent of God’s message to Jeremiah about the errant teachings of the priests themselves in Jer. 23:32.

[27] Cf. Vulgate error. Vincent is in agreement, combining “vagabond” with Calvin’s “imposter.”

[28] “The resurrection of Christ would undoubtedly have been less manifest, or, at least, they would have had more plausible grounds for denying it, if they had not taken pains to station witnesses at the sepulcher. We see then how the Lord not only disappointeth the crafty, (Job 5:12,) but employs even their own schemes as snares for holding them fast, that he may draw and compel them to render obedience to him.” ~Calvin

[29] Critical editions of the GNT omit this conjunction due to its omission in 5 uncial manuscripts (B, K, L, Γ, Θ + f13); Patristic editions of the GNT also omit this conjunction (I wish I knew why!), and none of the standard English versions have a conjunction in their translation here. But, as best as I can tell, it’s in the majority of Greek manuscripts, and the Nestle-Aland critical apparatus seems to indicate that it is even in the majority of the oldest Greek manuscripts, so I’m tentatively going to go with the reading of the Textus Receptus edition, which includes the conjunction here.

[30] A few ancient Greek manuscripts (א, C, D, W, Θ) render this word “make secure” as an Infinitive instead of an Imperative, which would not change the meaning since it is in a verb chain with hupagete, which also an Imperative.

[31] Pilate’s wording is curt and terse. He may have thought that when Joseph approached him earlier asking for Jesus’ body that Joseph was speaking for the interest of the whole Sanhedrin, since Joseph was a prominent member of that body. Perhaps his speech betrays annoyance that the rest of the Sanhedrin came back to him with another request.

[32] Hendriksen cogently presented this position. The Greek word, kustwdian, used here to describe this detachment of guards doesn’t help much because there are no other passages in the Bible which use this word to give us any more perspective on what it means. (It was not a kustwdian but rather a speiran that captured Jesus - John 18:3 - and kept Him in custody on “death row” – Mt. 27:27.) Were they Jews or Romans? The book of Chronicles mentions Jewish guards being part of the temple staff, but it’s also possible that the cohort of Roman soldiers that Pilate had sent with the priests on Thursday night to capture Jesus was assigned to the priests for as long as they needed to deal with the case, so there may have still been Roman guards at the priests’ disposal, in which case the Greek Present tense Imperative still works, “Stay in possession of the watchmen…” ATR confidently asserted that they were “Roman soldiers, not mere temple police.”

[33] There is no conjunction and no verb in the Greek, only the preposition meta which, in this case, I believe, means “in addition to,” (but is translated “and” in most English translations) and the object tes kustodias (“the security-guard”), so if a verb must be supplied, I think it’s best to supply the verb of being rather than an active verb not in the Greek text (such as “setting/posting”).

[34] cf. Deuteronomy 32:34; 1 Kings 21:8; 2 Kings 22:4; Nehemiah 10:1; Esther 3:10; 8:8,10. Vincent and Hendriksen mentioned the use of clay instead of wax.

[35] cf. Job 14:17; 24:16; Isaiah 8:16; 29:11