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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Where Was Jesus After He Died and Before He Rose Again?

For a detailed look on what happened to Jesus' body immediately upon death see my post on that.

After Jesus died on the cross, where was He until He rose again three days later? From my last post, we know He was left in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb with the stone rolled over it and the Jewish leaders had it sealed and the Roman soldiers guarded it.

Let's look at what we know about the afterlife BEFORE Jesus died and rose again.

The dead went to a place called Hades in Greek and Sheol in Hebrew meaning the Place of the Dead. It's possible that it was in the "bowels of the earth" as it is described in the Bible.

While the bodies die and lie in the grave here on earth, the souls went to Sheol/Hades either to the righteous side or the ungodly side.

Job talks about how his body dies but his soul goes to Sheol and he believes there is a future where God will bring him out. Jesus did that.
Job 14:12-14 So man goes down to his last resting-place and comes not again: till the heavens come to an end, they will not be awake or come out of their sleep. (13) If only you would keep me safe in the underworld, putting me in a secret place till your wrath is past, giving me a fixed time when I might come to your memory again! (14) If death takes a man, will he come to life again? All the days of my trouble I would be waiting, till the time came for me to be free.

2 Peter 2:9 ((Bible In Basic English - BBE) The Lord is able to keep the upright safe in the time of testing, and to keep evil-doers under punishment till the day of judging;

There is a prophesy by Isaiah about the death of the King of Babylon. Isaiah 14:4-20 the eventual defeat and death of the king of Babylon who was king of the nation that would eventually send Judah into captivity. (By that time, Israel had divided into Judah and Israel.) The kings of the earth (Isa. 14:9), who preceded him in death, taunt him. These are kings he had conquered with the sword and ruled over with a cruel hand (Isa. 14:6). These men welcomed him in Sheol. All of those who find themselves in this section of Sheol/Hades will be faced with the punishment of knowing they have no hope of ever have a relationship with God. They missed their chance. While their bodies have been placed in their graves, the King of Babylon was not so honored. This man's body was tossed aside and treated as trash while his soul went to Sheol.

Isaiah 14:18-20 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) When kings die, they are buried in glorious tombs. (19) But you will be left unburied, just another dead body lying underfoot like a broken branch. You will be one of many killed in battle and gone down to the deep rocky pit. (20) You won't be buried with kings; you ruined your country and murdered your people. You evil monster! We hope that your family will be forgotten forever.

In Ezekiel there is another Prophet who prophesies over Pharoah, the ruler over Egypt, and the King of Assyria, another enemy of Israel/Judah, In this quote, Ezekiel is talking about Pharoah, as compared to his rival world power, the King of Assyria.

Ezekiel 31:13-15 (MKJV) On his ruin shall all the birds of the heavens remain, and all the beasts of the field shall be on his branches, (14) to the end that none of all the trees by the waters shall be exalted in their height, nor give their top among the thick boughs, nor should their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water. For all of them are given to death, to the lower parts of the earth, in the midst of the sons of men, with those who go down into the Pit. (15) So says the Lord Jehovah: In the day when he went down to the grave, I caused a mourning. I covered the deep for him, and I held back its floods, and the great waters were held back. And I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted because of him...
Ezekiel 31:18 To whom are you like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? Yet you shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the lower parts of the earth. You shall lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with those slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, says the Lord Jehovah.

Ezekiel 32:11-32 (ERV) That will happen because of what the Lord GOD said: "The sword of the king of Babylon will come to fight against you. (12) I will use those soldiers to kill your people in battle. They come from the most terrible of the nations. They will destroy the things Egypt is proud of. The people of Egypt will be destroyed. (13) There are many animals by the rivers in Egypt. I will also destroy all those animals. People will not make the waters muddy with their feet anymore. The hoofs of cattle will not make the water muddy anymore. (14) So I will make the water in Egypt calm. I will cause their rivers to run slowly—they will be slick like oil." This is what the Lord GOD said. (15) "I will make the land of Egypt empty. That land will lose everything. I will punish all the people living in Egypt. Then they will know that I am the LORD! (16) "This is a sad song that people will sing for Egypt. The daughters in other nations will sing this sad song. They will sing it as a sad song about Egypt and all its people." This is what the Lord GOD said. (17) On the fifteenth day of that month in the twelfth year of exile, the word of the LORD came to me. He said, (18) "Son of man, cry for the people of Egypt. Lead Egypt and the daughters from powerful nations to the grave. Lead them to the world below where they will be with the other people who went down into that deep hole. (19) "Egypt, you are no better than anyone else! Go down to the place of death. Go lie down with those foreigners. (20) "Egypt will go to be with all the other men who were killed in battle. The enemy has pulled her and all her people away. (21) "Strong and powerful men were killed in battle. Those foreigners went down to the place of death. And from that place, those who were killed will speak to Egypt and his helpers. (22) "Assyria and all its army are there in the place of death. Their graves are deep down in that deep hole. All the Assyrian soldiers were killed in battle, and their graves are all around his grave. When they were alive, they made people afraid, but they were all killed in battle. (24) "Elam is there and all its army is around her grave. All of them were killed in battle. Those foreigners went deep down into the ground. When they were alive, they made people afraid. But they carried their shame with them down to that deep hole. (25) They have made a bed for Elam and all its soldiers who were killed in battle. Elam's army is all around its grave. All those foreigners were killed in battle. When they were alive, they scared people. But they carried their shame with them down into that deep hole. They were put with all the other people who were killed. (26) "Meshech, Tubal, and all their armies are there. Their graves are around it. All those foreigners were killed in battle. When they were alive, they made people afraid. (27) But now they are lying down by the powerful men who died long, long ago! They were buried with their weapons of war. Their swords will be laid under their heads. But their sins are on their bones, because when they were alive, they scared people. (28) "Egypt, you also will be destroyed, and you will lie down by those foreigners. You will lie with the other soldiers who were killed in battle. (29) "Edom is there also. His kings and other leaders are there with him. They were powerful soldiers, but now they lie with the other men who were killed in battle. They are lying there with those foreigners. They are there with the other people who went down into that deep hole. (30) "The rulers from the north are there, all of them, and there are all the soldiers from Sidon. Their strength scared people, but they are embarrassed. Those foreigners lie there with the other men who were killed in battle. They carried their shame with them down into that deep hole. (31) "Yes, Pharaoh and all his army will be killed in battle. Pharaoh will be comforted when he sees his many men and all the others who went down into the place of death." This is what the Lord GOD said. (32) "People were afraid of Pharaoh when he was alive, but he will lie down next to those foreigners. Pharaoh and his army will lie down with all the other soldiers who were killed in battle." This is what the Lord GOD said.

This place was divided into 3 sections: Abraham's Bosom (better called Paradise) where those, who believe in the true God, went. There was also a place of suffering punishment where those who rejected God went. And, finally, Tartarus where the fallen angels dwell. The divide between the Paradise and where the ungodly are suffering punishment is a huge and uncrossable chasm. Sheol, or Hades, is a "temporary" place off the dead.

Luke 16:19-31 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) There was once a rich man who wore expensive clothes and every day ate the best food. (20) But a poor beggar named Lazarus was brought to the gate of the rich man's house. (21) He was happy just to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. His body was covered with sores, and dogs kept coming up to lick them. (22) The poor man died, and angels took him to the place of honor next to Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. (23) He went to hell and was suffering terribly. When he looked up and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side, (24) he said to Abraham, "Have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch my tongue. I'm suffering terribly in this fire." (25) Abraham answered, "My friend, remember that while you lived, you had everything good, and Lazarus had everything bad. Now he is happy, and you are in pain. (26) And besides, there is a deep ditch between us, and no one from either side can cross over." (27) But the rich man said, "Abraham, then please send Lazarus to my father's home. (28) Let him warn my five brothers, so they won't come to this horrible place." (29) Abraham answered, "Your brothers can read what Moses and the prophets wrote. They should pay attention to that." (30) Then the rich man said, "No, that's not enough! If only someone from the dead would go to them, they would listen and turn to God." (31) So Abraham said, "If they won't pay attention to Moses and the prophets, they won't listen even to someone who comes back from the dead."

2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare sinning angels, but thrust them down into Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness, being reserved to judgment.

After Christ's death and resurrection, Paradise (or Abraham's Bosom) was moved to Heaven. After Jesus Christ rose from the dead He ascended to the Father, taking the saints who were in Abraham’s Bosom to heaven with Him. Thus, He took “captivity captive”.

Ephesians 4:4-10 (Modern King James Version - MKJV) There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling, (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all. (7) But to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. (8) Therefore He says, "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts to men." (9) (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? (10) He who descended is the same also as He who ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)

There we await Christ's return and the final judgment. Because we know Christ and have accepted Him as our Savior and received His forgiveness, we are safe with God and will be a part of His kingdom that He will establish. He will resurrect our bodies from the grave (even if we are but dust by then), making them immortal and our bodies will join our spirits again to live eternally!

Believers now wait in Jesus' presence in Paradise until the time of their resurrection to enter His Kingdom. The ungodly and unrighteous, those who rejected God, are in the part of Hades/Sheol where they experience suffering. At the final judgment, they will be sent to Gehenna, the Lake of Fire for eternal torment with Satan and his fallen angels (demons).


Now we come back to our original question. Where was Jesus and what He was doing after He died on the cross and before He rose from the dead?

During the waiting period it is somewhat of a mystery. But there are other scriptures that may give us some light.

Jesus Christ was fully God but He was also fully man. He came to experience what we experience except that He did not sin. When He died, He may have gone to Hades/Sheol, the place of the dead, just as all men did. He was sinless yet had taken on the sins of the world for all time. So He experienced death. That was the human part of Him. But He did not stay dead! He rose from the dead and that is the divine part of Him!

Acts 2:22-36 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) (22) Now, listen to what I have to say about Jesus from Nazareth. God proved that he sent Jesus to you by having him work miracles, wonders, and signs. All of you know this. (23) God had already planned and decided that Jesus would be handed over to you. So you took him and had evil men put him to death on a cross. (24) But God set him free from death and raised him to life. Death could not hold him in its power. (25) What David said are really the words of Jesus, "I always see the Lord near me, and I will not be afraid with him at my right side. (26); Because of this, my heart will be glad, my words will be joyful, and I will live in hope. (27) The Lord won't leave me in the grave. I am his holy one, and he won't let my body decay. (28) He has shown me the path to life, and he makes me glad by being near me." (29) My friends, it is right for me to speak to you about our ancestor David. He died and was buried, and his tomb is still here. (30) But David was a prophet, and he knew that God had made a promise he would not break. He had told David that someone from his own family would someday be king. 31) David knew this would happen, and so he told us that Christ would be raised to life. He said that God would not leave him in the grave or let his body decay. (32) All of us can tell you that God has raised Jesus to life! (33) Jesus was taken up to sit at the right side of God, and he was given the Holy Spirit, just as the Father had promised. Jesus is also the one who has given the Spirit to us, and that is what you are now seeing and hearing. (34) David didn't go up to heaven. So he wasn't talking about himself when he said, "The Lord told my Lord to sit at his right side, (35) until he made my Lord's enemies into a footstool for him." (36) Everyone in Israel should then know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ, even though you put him to death on a cross.

Matthew 12:38-42 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law answered Jesus. They said, "Teacher, we want to see you do a miracle as a sign from God." Jesus answered, "Evil and sinful people are the ones who want to see a miracle as a sign. But no miracle will be done to prove anything to them. The only sign will be the miracle that happened to the prophet Jonah. Jonah was in the stomach of the big fish for three days and three nights. In the same way, the Son of Man will be in the grave three days and three nights. On the judgment day, you people who live now will be compared with the people from Nineveh, and they will be witnesses who show how guilty you are. Why do I say this? Because when Jonah preached to those people, they changed their lives. And you are listening to someone greater than Jonah, but you refuse to change! "On the judgment day, you people who live now will also be compared with the Queen of the South, and she will be a witness who shows how guilty you are. I say this because she traveled from far, far away to listen to Solomon's wise teaching. And I tell you that someone greater than Solomon is right here, but you won't listen!

We don't know for sure where Jesus was but other scriptures indicate that He went to Sheol, to the righteous dead.

Look at Matthew 12:40 again in the Modern King James Version:   For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the huge fish, so the Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Psalm 30:3 (MKJV) O Jehovah, You have brought up my soul from the grave; You have kept me alive, so that I should not go down to the Pit.

Ephesians 4:8-10 (MKJV) Therefore He says, "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts to men." (9) (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? (10) He who descended is the same also as He who ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)

If He descended into Sheol, the place of the day, then what did He do there? We know that no one comes to the Father but through Jesus. He is the only gate to a right relationship with the Father. But those who died before Jesus, what happened to them? They went to Sheol. If God knew they had a heart after Him, then their faith would make them righteous where Jesus could tell them the good news, the gospel, in Paradise.

1 Peter 4:3-6 (CEV) You have already lived long enough like people who don't know God. You were immoral and followed your evil desires. You went around drinking and partying and carrying on. In fact, you even worshiped disgusting idols. (4) Now your former friends wonder why you have stopped running around with them, and they curse you for it. (5) But they will have to answer to God, who judges the living and the dead. (6) The good news has even been preached to the dead, so that after they have been judged for what they have done in this life, their spirits will live with God.

In summary, I am NOT a trained scholar with a long list of degrees. But it seems to me that the Bible says people went to Sheol where they lived in Paradise or the place of punishment. Jesus died and He went to Sheol to preach the gospel of His victory in His death and resurrection. To those in Paradise, it was the word of life, but, to those in the ungodly place, they were words of condemnation.

Colossians 2:15 (MKJV) Having stripped rulers and authorities, [Jesus] made a show of them publicly, triumphing over them in it.

Revelation 1:17-18 (MKJV) When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead person. But he put his right hand on me and said: Don't be afraid! I am the first, the last, (18) and the living one. I died, but now I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys to death and the world of the dead.

So Jesus triumphed over sin and death and He rose in victory!

1 Corinthians 15:55 (MKJV) "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?"

Satan thought he had taken the Son of God out when Jesus was crucified. But Jesus went to the place of the dead and preached the good news and then He stripped satan of his power and took the keys away from him. Then Jesus arose in victory and triumph over sin and death!

Revelation 7:12 (MKJV) "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen!"

The Apostles Creed says, “He descended into hell” (translated Hades, that is, the temporary abode of the dead – not the eternal lake of fire). Jesus descended to the realm of the dead to save the righteous souls, such as the Old Testament patriarchs, who died before his crucifixion.

You may not agree with my interpretation but, as Christians, we can agree that no matter what happened during those 3 days, Christ was the victor and provided us with forgiveness, righteousness and eternal life! Maybe the Bible is deliberately vague on those 3 days because it is God's mysterious ways but the end result is salvation through Jesus Christ. Upon Jesus I rest my faith in what He did on the cross and in the resurrection.

After Jesus' death and resurrection, human beings still die. Our bodies go to the grave to be raised when Christ returns. Those who are saved go to Paradise and those who are not, are in the section of darkness and punishment in Sheol/Hades. We live with Christ in paradise until it is time for Him to return. Upon His return, He resurrects our fleshly bodies from the grave. They are transformed into perfect, immortal bodies and our spirits join our bodies. At the Great Judgment Seat of Christ, God looks to see if our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Jesus writes our names in His book when we are born again. So, as believers, our name is there and we are accepted by God as one of His children.  Our works will then be judged by fire. We receive rewards based on what survives the fire of judgment. Then we are ushered into His Kingdom forever. Those who have rejected Jesus and refused His gift of salvation, face the judgment of eternal Hell at the Great White Throne Judgment. The books are out, their name is not in the Lamb's Book of Life, but their works are judged from these books. The level of punishment in the Lake of Fire is determined. They only thought the torment of Hades had been bad but it gets much worse. They are thrown in the Lake of Fire for eternal damnation. God did not want anyone to go to hell so He provided the way to forgiveness of our sins and eternity in Heaven through accepting His Son, Jesus Christ. It is the only way to be saved but it is open to everyone. There is no need for anyone to go to hell, but we have the freedom of choice and if we choose to reject Jesus Christ, then we suffer the eternal consequences. Once we take that last breath and we die, we are saved or lost depending on whether we accepted Jesus Christ or not. There is no second chance after death. Please make sure that you are saved because none of us know when our time is up!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter - What Happened To Jesus When He Died On The Cross?

Matthew 27:24-54 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do and that the people were starting to riot. So he took some water and washed his hands in front of them and said, "I won't have anything to do with killing this man. You are the ones doing it!" (25) Everyone answered, "We and our own families will take the blame for his death!" 26) Pilate set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross.

Note - Jesus died to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. It is by His blood that we are saved. Notice that the crowd actually, and unintentionally, prophesied. In the Modern King James Version - MKJV) it says in Mat 27:25 "Then all the people answered and said, 'Let His blood be on us and on our children.'" It is His Blood that saves us, if we accept it. It is His Blood that convicts us if we refuse His offer of salvation. "Let His Blood be upon us and on our children" was a prophesy that finds it's fulfillment in either our salvation (by accepting His Blood upon us) or judgment (by rejecting His Blood).

(27) The governor's soldiers led Jesus into the fortress and brought together the rest of the troops. (28) They stripped off Jesus' clothes and put a scarlet robe on him. (29) They made a crown out of thorn branches and placed it on his head, and they put a stick in his right hand. The soldiers knelt down and pretended to worship him. They made fun of him and shouted, "Hey, you king of the Jews!" (30) Then they spit on him. They took the stick from him and beat him on the head with it. (31) When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the robe. They put his own clothes back on him and led him off to be nailed to a cross. (32) On the way they met a man from Cyrene named Simon, and they forced him to carry Jesus' cross. (33) They came to a place named Golgotha, which means "Place of a Skull." (34) There they gave Jesus some wine mixed with a drug to ease the pain. But when Jesus tasted what it was, he refused to drink it. (35) The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes. (36) Then they sat down to guard him. (37) Above his head they put a sign that told why he was nailed there. It read, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." (38) The soldiers also nailed two criminals on crosses, one to the right of Jesus and the other to his left. (39) People who passed by said terrible things about Jesus. They shook their heads and (40) shouted, "So you're the one who claimed you could tear down the temple and build it again in three days! If you are God's Son, save yourself and come down from the cross!" (41) The chief priests, the leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses also made fun of Jesus. They said, (42) "He saved others, but he can't save himself. If he is the king of Israel, he should come down from the cross! Then we will believe him. (43) He trusted God, so let God save him, if he wants to. He even said he was God's Son." (44) The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus. (45) At noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until three o'clock. (46) Then about that time Jesus shouted, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you deserted me?" (47) Some of the people standing there heard Jesus and said, "He's calling for Elijah." (48) One of them at once ran and grabbed a sponge. He soaked it in wine, then put it on a stick and held it up to Jesus. (49) Others said, "Wait! Let's see if Elijah will come and save him." (50) Once again Jesus shouted, and then he died. (51) At once the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and rocks split apart. (52)  Graves opened, and many of God's people were raised to life. (53) Then after Jesus had risen to life, they came out of their graves and went into the holy city, where they were seen by many people. (54) The officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus felt the earthquake and saw everything else that happened. They were frightened and said, "This man really was God's Son!"

Upon Christ's death, "the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom". What is this curtain or veil? The original Tabernacle was a tent that God had made to very exacting standards. He gave Moses the instructions and he oversaw the making of the Tabernacle. It had 3 sections. The outer court, the inner court and the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant with a top called the Mercy Seat. To go between the inner or holy court into the Holy of Holies was forbidden by everyone but the High Priest and he could only go in once a year and he had to be specially prepared. So the Veil was what separated the Holy of Holies. The Tabernacle was built so God could dwell among His People, the Israelites (aka Hebrews or Jews). It was always found in the center of the camp with the Twelve Tribes of Israel camped about it. Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and lived as a man. He was fully God, but also fully human. As He lived among men for 33 yrs He never sinned. His work was to come to earth and live as one of us and point us to the Father. Then He was to be offered up as a pure and holy sacrifice (He never sinned so He was pure) on our behalf. The Bible says He also acts as our High Priest. He was not only the sacrifice, but also the High Priest who offered Himself as a sacrifice before God to pay for our sins. But He not only was the sacrifice and the High Priest, He was also the Tabernacle who came to live among His People. And we go through Him, just as the High Priest went through the veil in the Tabernacle once a year to offer atonement for the sins of the nation. So He lived among us and, once and for all, removed the veil that separated us from God the Father. As Jesus physically paid the price with the killing of His Body, so the veil was torn and was no longer needed. The veil was torn from top to bottom which indicates God tore the veil, not man. God allowed His Son to be killed in order for us to have free access to the Himself. No more separation! We can sit on the Mercy Seat, also a symbol of Christ who provided us access to God's mercy and grace. We can converse directly with Father God. The only intermediary is Jesus Christ. The Ark of the Covenant was about the promises of God and we can sit on the promises of God and know they are for us too. We can trust in His promises. We Can rest on His promises.

Hebrews 9:11-14 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) But Christ has already come to be the high priest. He is the high priest of the good things we now have. But Christ does not serve in a place like the tent that those other priests served in. He serves in a better place. Unlike that tent, this one is perfect. It was not made by anyone here on earth. It does not belong to this world. (12) Christ entered the Most Holy Place only one time—enough for all time. He entered the Most Holy Place by using his own blood, not the blood of goats or young bulls. He entered there and made us free from sin forever. (13) The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow were sprinkled on those who were no longer pure enough to enter the place of worship. The blood and ashes made them pure again—but only their bodies. (14) So surely the blood sacrifice of Christ can do much more. Christ offered himself through the eternal Spirit as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will make us completely clean from the evil we have done. It will give us clear consciences so that we can worship the living God.

Hebrews 10:19-22 (ERV) And so, brothers and sisters, we are completely free to enter the Most Holy Place. We can do this without fear because of the blood sacrifice of Jesus. (20) We enter through a new way that Jesus opened for us. It is a living way that leads through the curtain—Christ's body. (21) And we have a great priest who rules the house of God. (22) Sprinkled with the blood of Christ, our hearts have been made free from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. So come near to God with a sincere heart, full of confidence because of our faith in Christ.

Next came an earthquake that split rocks apart. This shows the power of God and power of Christ's death. Our hearts are hard as a rock, impenetrable and unmovable. But Christ's atoning death breaks our hard hearts. All of the walls around our hearts, that we've built up in defense, come crashing down when Christ comes in.

Jeremiah 5: 3b (MKJV) ...they have refused to receive correction; they have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return.

Then something astonishing happened! Some of the graves broke open and dead people came alive again and were seen by their friends and family in the city. You see, Christ died and set dead people free. We were dead in our sins. The wages of sin is death. Death is the horrible result of sin. But we've been set free through Christ. Our spirits are born and will live for eternity. We call it being born again. Jesus rose from the dead and spent time with His Disciples before He ascended into Heaven. When He ascended, those who had come forth from the graves may have joined Him in ascension. We are not told so this is just a supposition.


A panel painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden created circa 1435, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. It depicts Jesus' body being held by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus

Matthew 27:54-66 (ERV) The army officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus saw this earthquake and everything that happened. They were very afraid and said, "He really was the Son of God!" (55) Many women were standing away from the cross, watching. These were the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for him. (56) Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John were there. (57) That evening a rich man named Joseph came to Jerusalem. He was a follower of Jesus from the town of Arimathea. (58) He went to Pilate and asked to have Jesus' body. Pilate gave orders for the soldiers to give Jesus' body to him. (59) Then Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a new linen cloth. (60) He put Jesus' body in a new tomb that he had dug in a wall of rock. Then he closed the tomb by rolling a very large stone to cover the entrance. After he did this, he went away. (61) Mary Magdalene and the other woman named Mary were sitting near the tomb. (62) That day was the day called Preparation day. The next day, the leading priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. (63) They said, "Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive he said, 'I will rise from death in three days.' (64) So give the order for the tomb to be guarded well for three days. His followers might come and try to steal the body. Then they could tell everyone that he has risen from death. That lie will be even worse than what they said about him before." (65) Pilate said, "Take some soldiers and go guard the tomb the best way you know." (66) So they all went to the tomb and made it safe from thieves. They did this by sealing the stone in the entrance and putting soldiers there to guard it.

In order to understand who Joseph of Arimathea was, let's look at the other Gospels.

Mark 15:40-47 Some women were standing away from the cross, watching. Among these women were Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James and Joses. (James was her youngest son.) (41) These were the women who had followed Jesus in Galilee and cared for him. Many other women who had come with Jesus to Jerusalem were also there. (42) This day was called Preparation day. (That means the day before the Sabbath day.) It was becoming dark. (43) A man named Joseph from Arimathea was brave enough to go to Pilate and ask for Jesus' body. Joseph was an important member of the high council. He was one of the people who wanted God's kingdom to come. (44) Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. So he called for the army officer in charge and asked him if Jesus was already dead. (45) When Pilate heard it from the officer, he told Joseph he could have the body. (46) Joseph bought some linen cloth. He took the body from the cross, wrapped it in the linen, and put the body in a tomb that was dug in a wall of rock. Then he closed the tomb by rolling a large stone to cover the entrance. (47) Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw the place where Jesus was put.

Luke 23:48-56 Many people had come out of the city to see all this. When they saw it, they felt very sorry and left. (49) The people who were close friends of Jesus were there. Also, there were some women who had followed Jesus from Galilee. They all stood far away from the cross and watched these things. (50) A man named Joseph was there from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a good man, who lived the way God wanted. He was waiting for God's kingdom to come. Joseph was a member of the Jewish council. But he did not agree when the other Jewish leaders decided to kill Jesus. (52) He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. (53) He took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in cloth. Then he put it in a tomb that was dug in a wall of rock. This tomb had never been used before. (54) It was late on Preparation day. When the sun went down, the Sabbath day would begin. (55) The women who had come from Galilee with Jesus followed Joseph. They saw the tomb. Inside they saw where he put Jesus' body. (56) Then they left to prepare some sweet-smelling spices to put on the body. On the Sabbath day they rested, as commanded in the Law of Moses.

John 19:38-42 Later, a man named Joseph from Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. (Joseph was a follower of Jesus, but he did not tell anyone, because he was afraid of the Jewish leaders.) Pilate said Joseph could take Jesus' body, so he came and took it away. (39) Nicodemus went with Joseph. He was the man who had come to Jesus before and talked to him at night. He brought about 100 pounds of spices—a mixture of myrrh and aloes. (40) These two men took Jesus' body and wrapped it in pieces of linen cloth with the spices. (This is how the Jews bury people.) (41) In the place where Jesus was killed on the cross, there was a garden. In the garden there was a new tomb. No one had ever been buried there before.  (42)  The men put Jesus in that tomb because it was near, and the Jews were preparing to start their Sabbath day.

We know that Joseph was from a town called Arimathea which was in Judea. But it's not sure which town in Judea it was. There are several possibilities. We also know that he was wealthy and already had a tomb for himself. He purchased fine linen particularly to wrap the body of Jesus in. We also know he was a member of the Sanhedrin but was not one who that hated Jesus and participated in the mock trial. He was actually a friend of Jesus and became a believer. There is speculation that Joseph of Arimathea, or Joseph of Glastonbury as he was later called, was the uncle of Mary, mother of Jesus. According to various historical sources, Joseph's actions provoked both the Roman and Jewish elders and he eventually did spend time in prison for his support of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestant churches. Legends have grown up around

"Other historical sources report that Joseph of Arimathea went on a preaching mission to Gaul with the apostle Phillip, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, and others sometime between the years A.D. 37 and A.D. 63 (the year is in dispute). At Marseilles, Lazarus and Mary parted company with the main group who continued on further up North. When Joseph's party reached the English Channel, Phillip sent Joseph with 12 disciples to the furthest corner of the Roman Empire, the Island of the Britons. Legend has it that Joseph sailed around Land's End at the southern tip of England with the intent of catching up with old business acquaintances in the lead and tin mines. They ran aground in the Glastonbury marshes. Once again, it is reported that after climbing a nearby hill to survey the countryside, they were exhausted and Joseph thrust into the ground a staff made from the 'Holy Crown of Thorns' worn by Christ. He announced that he and his traveling companions were all weary. It is legendary that the thorn staff immediately took root and the thorn bush can still be seen today on 'Wearyall Hill.' Joseph built a church (Vetusta Ecclesia) of mud and wattle on the site and decreed that 12 monks should always reside in that most sacred place. It is interesting to note that a spirited shrub which grows near the now ruined Abbey is of the same type that grows in the Eastern Mediterranean and flowers only twice a year - Christmas time and Easter. It is also claimed that Joseph collected some of the blood and sweat of Christ after His side was pierced as He hung on the cross. The chalice or cup which Joseph used to collect the fluids is reported to be the same one used during the last supper. Joseph took the cup with him on his voyage to England and is said to have hidden it on the site at Glastonbury, at the bottom of a deep well, called the 'Chalice Well', or the 'Blood Well.' The well is a rather curious place, 25 thousand gallons of red-tinted water pass through the well area each day. The red tint is caused by high iron content in the water." (see link for the full article)

These are unsubstantiated legends but very interesting.

Nicodemus is mentioned earlier in the gospels.

John 3:1-21 (ERV) There was a man named Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees. He was an important Jewish leader. (2) One night he came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we know that you are a teacher sent from God. No one can do these miraculous signs that you do unless they have God's help." (3) Jesus answered, "I assure you, everyone must be born again. Anyone who is not born again cannot be in God's kingdom." (4) Nicodemus said, "How can a man who is already old be born again? Can he go back into his mother's womb and be born a second time?" (5) Jesus answered, "Believe me when I say that everyone must be born from water and the Spirit. Anyone who is not born from water and the Spirit cannot enter God's kingdom. (6) The only life people get from their human parents is physical. But the new life that the Spirit gives a person is spiritual. (7) Don't be surprised that I told you, 'You must be born again.' (8) The wind blows wherever it wants to. You hear it, but you don't know where it is coming from or where it is going. It is the same with everyone who is born from the Spirit." (9) Nicodemus asked, "How is all this possible?" (10) Jesus said, "You are an important teacher of Israel, and you still don't understand these things? (11) The truth is, we talk about what we know. We tell about what we have seen. But you people don't accept what we tell you. (12) I have told you about things here on earth, but you do not believe me. So I'm sure you will not believe me if I tell you about heavenly things! (13) The only one who has ever gone up to heaven is the one who came down from heaven—the Son of Man. (14) "Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. It is the same with the Son of Man. He must be lifted up too. (15) Then everyone who believes in him can have eternal life." (16) Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life. (17) God sent his Son into the world. He did not send him to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. (18) People who believe in God's Son are not judged guilty. But people who do not believe are already judged, because they have not believed in God's only Son. (19) They are judged by this fact: The light has come into the world. But they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things. (20) Everyone who does evil hates the light. They will not come to the light, because the light will show all the bad things they have done. (21) But anyone who follows the true way comes to the light. Then the light will show that whatever they have done was done through God.

John 7:40-45 (ERV) When the people heard the things that Jesus said, some of them said, "This man really is the Prophet." (41) Other people said, "He is the Messiah." And others said, "The Messiah will not come from Galilee. (42) The Scriptures say that the Messiah will come from the family of David. And they say that he will come from Bethlehem, the town where David lived." (43) So the people did not agree with each other about Jesus. (44) Some of the people wanted to arrest him. But no one tried to do it. (45) The Temple police went back to the leading priests and the Pharisees. The priests and the Pharisees asked, "Why didn't you bring Jesus?" (46) The Temple police answered, "We have never heard anyone say such amazing things!" (47)The Pharisees answered, "So he has fooled you too! (48) You don't see any of the leaders or any of us Pharisees believing in him, do you? (49)But those people out there know nothing about the law. They are under God's curse!" 50) But Nicodemus was there in that group. He was the one who had gone to see Jesus before. He said, (51) "Our law will not let us judge anyone without first hearing them and finding out what they have done." (52) The Jewish leaders answered, "You must be from Galilee too! Study the Scriptures. You will find nothing about a prophet coming from Galilee." (53) Then they all left and went home.

From what we read earlier, Joseph of Arimathea provided his own tomb and fine linen for Jesus' burial and Nicodemus provided expensive balm from a mixture of myrrh and aloes so he was probably wealthy as well. In the apocryphal books there is a Gospel of Nicodemus. Nicodemus is venerated as a saint in the various Eastern Churches and in the Roman Catholic Church.


The traditional location of Golgotha (place of the skull) derives from its identification by Helena, the mother of Emperoro Constantine I, in 325 AD. A few yards nearby, Helena also identified the location of the tomb of Jesus and claimed to have discovered the True Cross. Her son, Emperor Constantine, then built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre around the whole site including the Tomb of Christ. But scholars have disputed this as the place of Calvary and the Tomb. See Wikipedia on Calvary and on the Tomb of Jesus and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

See my post on what happened to Jesus between His death and resurrection.

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