V. A King’s Burial

They stood beneath the cross, listened to the people mock Jesus, the Messiah, laugh at him and call him to come down and yet he was silent to all of their words. He spoke quietly. They were too far away at first to understand him, but edged their way closer until they were just beneath the cross itself. Suddenly the sky went black as night. About three hours later Jesus turned his tortured face towards the sky. Nicodemus, Joseph, and Judah stood, transfixed with horror as the Son of Man cried out in an unearthly voice.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“49 Nicodemus heard Elikam snicker.

”Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”50 It was all Nicodemus could do to contain his rage. Judah couldn’t, turned around and was about to slam his fist into the Pharisee’s blaspheming mouth, but Joseph caught his arm before he could do anything.

“I am thirsty,”51 came a quiet, sad voice from the cross. Judah suddenly turned and ran to a jar of sour wine that was standing there. He soaked a sponge in it, put it on a stalk and held it up to Jesus’ lips.

“Let him drink,”52 he said to Nicodemus and Joseph.

“We’ll see if Elijah comes to take him down and save him,”53 Elikam continued to mock. Jesus finished his drink and held his head high again.

“It is finished!”54 he cried triumphantly and then more quietly added with a bowed head, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”55 And after saying these words, he yielded up his spirit. Nicodemus turned to Joseph.

“My friend, it is time to step out of the shadows and into the light! The King needs a proper burial.” Joseph nodded.

• • •

“You get the spices, I’ll take care of Pilate and the burial cloth. Oh, and my own new grave is down there in the Garden. We’ll put him in there.” Nicodemus agreed and headed off into Jerusalem. The sky was light again as he finally found a spice seller.

“We need a lot of spices for him, go get someone to help you carry them,” he said to Judah and then turned to the salesman. “I want seventy-five pounds of the finest myrrh and aloes.” The man looked at him, amused.

“You must be planning to bury a king,” he commented with a laugh.

“He was more than a king,” Nicodemus replied. At that moment Judah returned with his brother Elhanan56 Together they shouldered the heavy sack full of spices and then followed their master out the gate toward the hill and the tomb. When they reached it, Joseph was already there with the permission to have Jesus’ body.

“We had better make sure he’s really dead,” the centurion just said to the man from Arimathea and motioned one of his legionaries over. He took his spear and jabbed it into Jesus’ side. Blood and water poured out of the wound, making Nicodemus want to vomit. The centurion nodded to his men, who took the body from the cross. They carefully prepared it for burial, wrapping a long strips of linen cloth around and around the body of Jesus, the Messiah. The seventy-five pounds of spices were spread between the cloth, before Elhanan and Judah carefully picked the body up and carried it towards the tomb.

“We must hurry,” Joseph commented. “It will be dark soon.” Nicodemus nodded. There were several women following them. They let them come as they entered the large tomb and placed Jesus’ body in a little depression near the back. There were two blocks of stone next to the depression. Then they went out and the four men pushed at a large round stone, set there to seal the entrance. After some blowing the stone rumbled forward and dropped into a depression in front of the entrance, sealing the Son of Man off from the land of the living.

  • 49. Cheney and Ellisen, op cit., p. 253.
  • 50. Mk. 15:35
  • 51. Jn. 19:28
  • 52. Cheney and Ellisen, op. cit., p.253
  • 53. Ibid.
  • 54. Ibid.
  • 55. Ibid., p. 254.
  • 56. Elhanan means “God is merciful”.