38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.—John 19:38-42 (NASB)
After the death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea asked for permission to take the body and bury it. Joseph was a man wealthy enough to have his own tomb dug for him. He was also a member of the Sanhedrin, as was Nicodemus. Nicodemus was wealthy enough to purchase the hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, both of which were very expensive items in that day. It would have taken someone influential and well-known to approach Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. Though they were both influential and wealthy men, they were both secret disciples of Jesus because they feared both the Romans and the other Jewish leaders. They could have been imprisoned (as Joseph was in later years), beaten or sentenced to death. The question we need to ask ourselves today is this: “What are the fears that keep us from openly serving Jesus?” What keeps us from telling family, friends and neighbors about Jesus?
38 Again feeling very upset, Jesus came to the tomb. It was a cave with a large stone covering the entrance. 39 Jesus said, “Move the stone away.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “But, Lord, it has been four days since he died. There will be a bad smell.” 40 Then Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they moved the stone away from the entrance. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42 I know that you always hear me, but I said these things because of the people here around me. I want them to believe that you sent me.” 43 After Jesus said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with pieces of cloth, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take the cloth off of him and let him go.”
—John 11:38-44 (NCV)
Just imagine this scene! A crowd standing at a tomb, which was a cave covered by a large stone. Some were crying, some were doubting, all of them, I am sure, wondering what Jesus was going to do next. Is it any wonder that Jesus had cried earlier? He was surrounded by a sea of unbelief. It would have been particularly hurtful because the ones who knew Him and He loved so much were also doubting. But, thank God, Lazarus didn’t have to depend on the faith of all those people or he would never have come out of that grave. Picture the look on their faces when Jesus said “Lazarus, come forth!’ Their attitude went from one of doubt to amazement! Some of them were even convinced that Jesus was really who He said He was. “Let Him go!” There must have been some rejoicing there that day in Bethany! STOP! Now, picture yourself in that same crowd that same day. In which group do you see yourself? Do you come there as a believer or a doubter? Do you leave there as a believer or a doubter? Fast forward to “now”. In which group are we now? Are we fully persuaded?
44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.–Luke 23:44-46 (NLT)
Can you imagine what all those people were thinking at this time? Both the light from the sun and from the Son were gone. There was total, complete darkness for a space of 3 hours. The veil (curtain) in the temple was torn from top to bottom. Then Jesus spoke with words from Psalm 31. If we read that quote in context, we find that it points backward to David’s suffering and deliverance and forward to the Resurrection. What a miserable place the world must have been while Jesus was in the grave. Now, we fast forward to Sunday morning. “Then came the morning” and the tomb was empty!. Victory for Jesus and for all of us who believe in Him. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Rejoice! and again, I say rejoice! We must go tell somebody the Good News! Christ is Risen!