His Death was Witnessed by Many.
This story starts simply with the words, “It is finished.” With those words, Jesus bowed his head and died. Amidst the crowds, the women and the disciples watched from a distance as the light of life was extinguished. In their sorrow and mourning, their only comfort was that at last, all the abuse and suffering of their beloved Jesus had come to an end. At least, he was suffering no more. (Matt 27: 55-56).
The soldiers were trained to make sure that the condemned prisoners on the crosses were truly dead. In fact, to speed up the process of death, it was normal to go from cross to cross and to break the legs of the prisoner hanging there. With the legs broken, the condemned man is unable to support himself to breathe properly and death ensues quickly. However, when they came to Jesus, they knew there was no need to do so as they could see that he was already dead. Yet one of the soldiers decided to be sure and used a spear and thrust it up the side of his chest. Immediately, water and coagulated blood came out from the wound confirming that Jesus was already dead. (John 19: 31-37).
Their leader and Lord was dead. The followers and disciples dispersed in grief, fear and helplessness.
He was Definitely Buried.
Jesus’ enemies celebrated that night. They had won. Jesus was no more and his followers were shattered. They held all the winning cards in their hand. They rejoiced.
In all their celebrations, they did not really care what happened to Jesus’ body; a dead body.
The story makes a turn here. With the family and the disciples of Jesus paralysed by fear, no attempt was made to claim the body. Unexpectedly, Joseph of Arimathea, who until now was a secret follower because he feared the authorities, found the courage out of his love for Jesus to approach the Governor Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body to be released to him for burial. With Pilate’s permission, he and Nicodemus (another secret disciple) took the body and prepared it for burial according to the customs of the day which included wrapping the body with 75 pounds of aloes and myrrh and linen strips. When this was done, the body was placed in a tomb in a garden near where Jesus had been crucified. The tomb was a recently completed one, carved out of solid rock and a big stone was rolled into place to seal it. (John 19: 38-42; Matt 27: 57-60).
When Jesus’ enemies in the high places found out about the burial, they demanded that the tomb was put under guard to prevent Jesus’ disciples from trying to steal the body and stir up trouble by claiming Jesus had risen from the dead. As a result, a guard was placed there. (Matt 27: 62-66).
Before sunrise on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and to her surprise found that the guards were no where to be seen, the heavy stone was rolled away and the tomb empty. She was shocked. She called Peter and John, two of Jesus closest disciples, they too came and saw the empty tomb, the grave linen and burial cloth but no body. They were all shocked and confused. They very likely assumed that Jesus’ enemies had desecrated the tomb and stolen the body. The disciples returned to their homes in despair. They did not understand what was happening even though it had been foretold in Scripture (John 20:1-8).Mary stayed weeping outside the tomb. First she sees two figures who are angels but she does not immediately realize this and she tells them that Jesus’ body has been stolen. Then she sees another figure which she mistakes as the gardener and she implored him to tell her where they had taken Jesus’ body. (John 20: 10-18).
Then, in a magical moment, through her veil of tears, she recognizes Jesus standing there alive. She becomes the first to witness that Jesus had conquered death and was alive. Out of despair, hope rekindles into a blazing light.
She ran and told the disciples but they would not believe until finally they too say Jesus in their midst. Thomas who was not there would not believe until finally Jesus appeared to him and he saw with his own eyes Jesus alive. They were all overjoyed.
From, then on Jesus appeared to many again and again until his ascension into heaven.
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
And by his wounds, we are healed.”