Episode five - The tomb

Joseph knows what he has to do. He has stood and watched that day, as the rocks broke and the sun faded from view. He has watched as Jesus had died. And now he knows what he has to do. 

Joseph, not Jesus' Dad, another Joseph, has a tomb. And he wants to honour Jesus by burying him in his tomb. He doesn't want Jesus to end up like the criminals who have died that day, cast into a heap by the Romans. Discarded like rubbish. 

Jesus is not rubbish to be tossed away. So, Joseph pushes his way through the crowds on the road and finds his way to where Pilate is. He has a strange request to make. And he is in a hurry. It is just about time for the Sabbath, when every Jewish person stops working. He must get to Pilate before then. 

Pilate is pretty surprised to see Joseph, and even more surprised when he hears that Joseph wants Jesus' body. "Is he dead already?" Pilate asks. He sends off some soldiers to check. When they report back that Jesus is in fact dead, he agrees to let Joseph take Jesus body. 

The creator of the universe, dead and lying on the side of the road. Joseph weeps as he and his friends pick up Jesus' broken body and carry it to the place where his tomb is. "How can this be?" Joseph thinks to himself.    

Joseph is a leader in the temple and he has watched as some of his friends have turned really nasty and said the most horrible things about Jesus. He has heard their plots and schemes to trick Jesus and get him killed by the Romans. But not all the leaders in the temple feel this way. Just the other night, Joseph had a group of men over to his house for dinner to talk about it all. They stayed up all night trying to figure it out. Is this man really God? Is he who he says he is? 

And now he is dead. The glimmer of hope is gone. And they are really confused, and sad and angry. If he was truly God, why did he die?   


Joseph and his friends arrive at his tomb, carefully carrying Jesus' body. This photo is what the inside of a tomb would have looked like in Jesus' day. Tombs were made from caves. Only the wealthy would have been able to afford to have owned a cave, so Joseph is a rich man. Joseph and his friends first laid Jesus' body out on a shelf in the cave and prepare it for burial. They have 34 kilograms of spices made from myrrh and aloes. They spread this on the body to make it smell nice, before wrapping it in a linen cloth. They are in a hurry to get this done before the Sabbath rest begins at sunset on Friday night. 

They plan to come back and put Jesus' body into a sarcophagus. This is the hole you can see in the side of the cave in this photo. This is where the body would lie. After about a year, family members would return to the cave and take the bones and place them in a box called an ossuary. The person’s name was then etched on the outside. You can see the boxes in this photo. Jesus would have his name etched on the outside of one of these boxes.

As Joseph and his friends lay Jesus' body down inside the cave they see some women watching them. It's Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, one of Jesus' friends.  They watch and they cry. These women have travelled with Jesus all the way from their homes in Galilee, making the long trip to Jerusalem. They have stayed with Jesus as he died and now they would like to stay with his body as it is buried.

But it is the beginning of the Sabbath so they all have to get back to their houses. Silence falls over the city as families gather for the Sabbath meal. Silence falls over the tomb and night time comes. Silence falls over Pilate as he sits looking out over the darkened city. No Jewish person will do any work until the Sabbath is over. For Jesus' friends it is going to be a very long couple of days before they can get back to the tomb to finish preparing Jesus' body and to say their final goodbyes to this man they love so much. 

To be continued... one more episode to go!   

Episode One: The journey begins
Episode Two: Through the gates 
Episode Three - Things get tense

Episode Three - Part Two 
Episode Four: Like a criminal
Episdoe Six: The Sunday morning surprise!


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