“The Men Who Buried Jesus” By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

The Men Who Buried Jesus

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

Scripture Readings: Matthew 27:57-66; John 3:1-21; John 19:31-42

Key Verse: John 3: 21

“But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Jesus was dead. His closest friends had left him and gone into hiding. The women close to him stayed nearby, observed from a distance. Two stepped forward to ask for his body, to take him down from the cross—two who had been secret disciples because of their fear of the Jews:  Joseph of Arimathea who was himself a prominent member of the council but who had not consented to Jesus’ crucifixion and Nicodemus, a Pharisee who had come to Jesus at night when he wouldn’t be seen. These two individuals who had not openly followed Jesus but who were nonetheless his disciples both stepped forward after He died. They sought a proper burial for Jesus.

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body and after it was confirmed that Jesus was dead, Pilate consented to his taking the body for burial. Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus down off of the cross and took Him to his own unused tomb which was nearby and laid Him there. Nicodemus brought aloes, myrrh, and spices. These two together prepared His body and buried Him in the tomb.

It took courage for Joseph and Nicodemus to come forward now. And did they even understand what had happened or who Jesus was when they did this kindness? They clearly had believed in Jesus and must have grieved for him. What did they believe at this point? We can hardly imagine. Jesus died a criminal’s death. He was gone. No angels stopped his death. Did they understand that He was the Christ?

We don’t know much about Joseph of Arimathea from the scriptures except that he was prominent and rich, that he asked for Jesus’ body and buried Him in his own unused tomb. But, we do know a little more about Nicodemus. Nicodemus is the one who came at night seeking to talk to Jesus and to whom Jesus said the most famous scripture that Christians around the world quote—John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus revealed much about the darkness and the light to Nicodemus who likely had little understanding of these spoken words and of what was yet to come. And here was Nicodemus at the darkest time. The light was yet to be fully seen and understood by Nicodemus or Joseph. The light was yet to shine its brightest.

Joseph and Nicodemus were believers. Nicodemus had said to Jesus, “‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; or no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’” (John 3:2). But, at this point when Jesus was dead, I can’t help but wonder what was going on through their minds. Even Jesus’ closest friends and disciples did not fully understand who He was–I can’t help but think what their reaction to the living Christ was when they fully understood how they had been involved, how their faithful acts would be understood, how they must have felt when it was revealed to them the full impact of the fact that Jesus is the Christ, when they knew it without question.

“But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I know that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). I know that I don’t know everything and that I cannot know even in the moment the full impact of my actions, so I ask that you show me the way that I may do your will, that I may act in faith. Your will be done.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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