BEFORE GOING BACK TO GOLGOTHA, Joseph bought a linen shroud in which to wrap the body of Jesus. When he arrived at the scene of crucifixion, he found there his fellow-councillor Nicodemus, also a secret disciple of Christ. Like Joseph, he had at last found courage to make public his allegiance to Christ, and had come to Golgotha to embalm the body, bringing with him a great quantity of myrrh and aloes.
Joseph and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus and after wrapping it, with the spices, in linen cloths, they placed it in the shroud. With the help of the disciples, they carried the body to a new tomb which Joseph had prepared for his own use in a garden near Golgotha. Then, while the holy women looked on and wept, they laid it in the sepulcher and closed the entrance to the tomb with a great stone.
Having completed these funeral rites, the followers of Jesus returned to their homes. On the Sabbath they rested, according to the Law of the Jews, but for the chief priests and the Pharisees the holy day was not one of rest. Even after His death, they were full of hatred for Christ and were haunted by anxieties concerning His promised resurrection. The wonder-worker might, through His mysterious arts, cheat death and escape from the tomb. Or, His disciples might steal away the body and announce that He had arisen from the dead, as He had foretold.
Coming to Pilate, they said, “Sir, we have remembered how that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Give orders, therefore, that the sepulcher be guarded until the third day, or else His disciples may come and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead’; and the last imposture will be worse than the first.”
Assigning them a force of men, Pilate said, “You have a guard; go, guard it as well as you know how.” And going to the tomb, they sealed the stone over the door, and posted the soldiers to guard the place.
Meditation: Our Lord, who at His entrance into this world did not have a crib in which to lie but was forced to lie in an animal’s feedbox, at His death did not have a grave in which to be buried. He was laid in a tomb that belonged to a friend. Christ’s detachment from earthly comforts extended even beyond His death; His concern was for other things. How unlike Him are we! At the time of death we sometimes show more concern about the way the corpse of a friend or relative is dressed, about the kind of casket, or about the place of the grave than we do about the love for God in that person’s soul at the moment of death.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 287-288. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.