John 19:38-42 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
‘Joseph of Arimathaea’ – a secret disciple of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin (Matt. 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56). He was from Ramah, called in the Septuagint Armathaim (1Sam. 1:1, 19).
‘Nicodemus’ – he was one of the Jewish’s rulers and a Rabbi, as well as a member of the Sanhedrin, and one of the three richest men in Jerusalem. He was known as Bartholomew which is a patronymic for Nathaniel. He was the brother of Philip (1:45-51; 21:2) and one of the 12 apostles (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13).
‘By night’ – at first, he came by night, but now openly, proving no shame.
‘Myrrh’ the Greek word smurna meaning a fragrant gum used in anointing oil (Ex. 30:23), perfume (Psa. 45:8), and embalming (Mark 15:23). Myrrh is a gum which comes from the stem of a low, thorny, ragged tree growing in Arabia and East Africa. ‘Aloes’ a perfume of fragrant aromatic wood.
‘Hundred pound weight’ A hundred litre of 12 ounces each would make only 75 of our pounds. It is not known how much it costs per pound, but great quantities were used in embalming the dead body of respected persons. When Herod died 500 servants bearing aromatics attended the funeral (Josephus, Antiquities, Book 15:3:4). The women also brought spices (Mark 16:1; Luke 23:56; 24:1).
‘Wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews’ this was not embalming as practised by Egyptians. Jews simply anointed the body and wrapped it in fine linen, putting the spices and ointments in the folds. In Christ’s case, the operation was not completed due to the coming of the sabbath. As soon as the sabbath was over the women came back to complete the work (Mark 16:1). The linen was bound around each leg and arm and a napkin over the face (11:44; 20:7; Acts 5:6).
‘Sepulchre’ is the Greek word mnemeion translated as the grave. It is never the place of the soul, and is always located on the earth as the place where the body goes. The Bible is clear when it states that man puts bodies into the grave and that graves are made, dug, touched and seen. Thus can the hell [Greek: gehenna] and the grave [Greek: mnemeion] not be the same place because no wrath, sorrow, fire, degrees of torment, consciousness, souls, gates, bars, keys, prayer, conversations, pains, angels, demons, satan, punishment, remorse, feelings, emotions, desires, suffering, memory, comfort, or life is ever mentioned as being in graves; but all these things are mentioned many times as being in hell. Men can put into the grave after killing the body, but God alone can cast into hell (Rev. 20:11-15; Psa. 9:17).
‘Nigh at hand’ – indicating that they had to make haste to bury Him before the special sabbath began at sunset Wednesday to sunset Thursday. Also, it appears that they planned a better tomb and that they had no hopes of Him ever being resurrected, as He had repeatedly said. They considered Him a great prophet and planned on treating Him as such by making a great tomb for Him.
In centuries past, superstition, fraud, and all manner of sinfulness have been carried on in connection with the holy sepulchre. Greeks and Armenians for centuries pretended that divine miracles came through it and even immunity from hellfire would accompany anyone buried in cloth that was singed in the candle fires of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The fire was thought to miraculously come from heaven each Easter which has always been a pagan festival observed long before Christ. It is not a Christian name but is derived from Ishtar, one of the Babylonian titles of an idol goddess, the Queen of Heaven. The Saxon goddess Eastre is the same as the Astarte, the Syrian Venus, called Ashtoreth in the Old Testament. It was the worship of this woman by Israel that was such an abomination to God (1Sam. 7:3; 1Kin. 11:5, 11:33; 2Kin. 23:13; Jer. 7:18; 44:18). This church was burned down Oct. 11, 1808, after 1400 years of idolatrous practises in it.