37 Jesus’s Body Placed in the Guarded Tomb

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Jesus Buried after Undeniable Proof of His Death

Scripture: Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-54; and John 19:31-42

Notes: Jesus had promised that He would be in the tomb “three days and three nights” and that He would rise from the dead “on the third day.” There seems to be some conflict here, but not by Jewish reckoning. The Talmud states that “a day/night is an onah [i.e., a unit of time]” and that, in computing the passage of time, “any part of an onah is as the whole.” Jesus physically died late on Friday afternoon, was in the tomb before the sun went down (thus, by Jewish reckoning, Friday is the first onah or day/night unit), remained there all Saturday (the second), and rose sometime before sunrise on Sunday (the third).

B. The Women Observe the Tomb; the Romans Seal It

Scripture: Matthew 27:61-66; Mark 15:47; and Luke 23:55-56

Notes: The gospels are explicit that certain believing women marked carefully where the tomb was, intending to return after the Sabbath to finish preparing the body for burial. The preparation had been hasty and partial because the Sabbath was approaching. By Jewish law, the body could be dressed for three days – the day of death was day #1. By sundown on the third day after that, the tomb had to be permanently sealed because the corpse would begin to smell horribly. These women were coming to the tomb early on Sunday when they discovered it empty. Although Jesus’s disciples had never been willing to hear His promise to rise on the third day – and thus did not anticipate that event – Jesus’s enemies had heard that claim. For that reason, they demanded that Pilate place an official seal on the tomb and provide armed guards so that Jesus’s disciples could not come and steal the body.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).