Today's verses are Mark 15:46,47: "And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid." These verses give us four interesting insights into the burial of Jesus, one that especially touches me at this time of year:
1. Jesus' tomb was cut out of rock. These kinds of tombs in Jesus' day were expensive to have, thus suggesting it was Joseph's own family burial plot given to Jesus. It appears that in Jesus' death Joseph wanted to show generosity to the One who had died for his sins.
2. A huge rock, estimated by experts to weigh two tons, was rolled in front of the opening to the tomb. Why is this important? Roman guards were placed in front of the rock and the tomb. They were given strict orders not to allow anyone near the tomb. There was a rumor that the disciples wanted to steal the body. The Roman guards watched over the tomb closely (see Matthew 28:62-66). If someone came to steal the body to start a rumor that Jesus was alive, as he had prophesied, they would be killed. Plus, one can only imagine how much effort by many people would be needed to move a two ton rock!
3. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where Jesus was laid. Why is this important? Because of what's about to happen! These women need to be eyewitnesses to the burial, to the exact location of Jesus' tomb, in order to return in a few hours to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty!
4. However, for me, especially at this time of year, there is a beautiful insight from these verses that makes Christmas even more meaningful. Here it is: Joseph wrapped Jesus' corpse in a linen shroud. These strips of linen cloth went around the dead body. Each one had burial spices placed on it, given by Nicodemus (John 19:39,40), also a member of the Sanhedrin and perhaps a friend of Joseph's. He is the one who came to Jesus at night and eventually became a follower of Jesus (see John 3). What is fascinating is that the term for "linen shroud" is similar to "swaddling clothes," the term used to describe the "linen" wrapped around the baby Jesus. In Jesus' birth and death, linen cloths were used.
Why is this touching? Why is this significant? For me, it appears the Holy Spirit, who authored Holy Scripture, connects the cradle with the cross. At Christmas time, we love to look at a beautiful baby. However, we often fail to remember this baby grows up to die on a cross for the forgiveness of our sin. We should never look at the cradle without remembering the significance of the cross and vice versa. Both are important. Both should be connected during Christmas and Easter seasons to one another.
As you experience the joys of Christmas season, pause and remember also the meaning of the cross. Remember the connection of the cradle and the cross.
It should make your Christmas season even more memorable and meaningful.