Mark's Gospel

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The Burial of Jesus

(Mark 15:42-47)

According to Jewish Law it was an offence to leave a body hanging overnight (Deuteronomy 22:23). The body had to be quickly buried before sunset. In Palestine, out of consideration for this law, the Romans did not leave dead bodies to rot on the cross, but buried them in a common grave. Sometimes permission to bury their dead was given to relatives or friends. Joseph of Arimathaea, who was probably a member of the Sanhedrin, risked being associated with a executed criminal and went to Pilate to ask for Jesus' body. Joseph's actions would have also angered the Jewish authorities. Mark tells us that Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead, crucifixion usually took hours if not days. Before releasing Jesus' body Pilate asks for further confirmation of Jesus' death.

Joseph would have been quite wealthy as he probably had Jesus placed in his own family tomb. This would have been a rock tomb with ledges cut into the sides on which bodies were placed. A round stone would be rolled across the entrance of the tomb to seal it. We told how the women watched and saw where Jesus was laid, presumably intending to complete the burial arrangements when the Sabbath was over.

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