The burial of Jesus (Matthew 27:57-61)

Summary

On the evening of Jesus' death, a rich man from Arimathea arrived. His name was Joseph, and he was a disciple of Jesus. Joseph went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He took the body, wrapped it in a new linen sheet and placed it in his own tomb, which he had just recently dug out of solid rock. Then he rolled a large stone across the entrance and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there, facing the tomb.

The Burial of Christ, Saint Jacob's Church, Bruges

Understanding the text

If no-one claimed the body of a crucifixion victim, it would be thrown in a common burial pit. Matthew describes Joseph as a “rich man” and also a “disciple” of Jesus. Many people believe that he could have been a member of the Sanhedrin and a quiet supporter of Jesus.

The burial custom in Jesus’ day was for a body to be anointed with spices and wrapped in a cloth. It would then be placed in a tomb or cave and the entrance would be sealed.