Monday, May 27, 2019

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Holy Saturday - Christ's Burial

Matt 27:57-66
57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.

Luther's Notes

57. Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.

Joseph of Arimathea. When the distress had become the greatest, and those who had been the finest Christians cringe and hide themselves, and out of fear, sorrow and sadness know not what to do, or where to stay, then Joseph of Arimathsea comes in, not a humble citizen as the Apostles were, but a councilor at Jerusalem, and a very rich man.

58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 

Asked for the body of Jesus. This was for him a dangerous venture; for thereby he sets himself against the whole council and also Pilate himself, who had condemned the Lord, and gave them to understand that he regarded Jesus as a pious, righteous man, who was wronged before God and the world.

This now is the fruit of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the weakest and most timid hearts come forth without fear or timidity, and confess Christ, and bury his body hanging in such disgrace upon the cross. God, as a rich householder, will have all kinds of servants, not only strong and tall, but also small and weak ones. Now, in order that the strong may not despise anyone, they must experience their own weak ness in themselves; and that no one shall judge another, the Holy Ghost comes upon the weak, exhorts, com forts and strengthens them to such a degree, that every one must see and praise the divine power in them.

60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.

 Laid it in his own new tomb. The Evangelists tell particularly that the tomb was in a garden; that it was a new tomb, in which no one had yet lain, and that Joseph had it made for himself. This was done not only that the testimony of Christ's resurrection should be the more positive; but also because a remarkable corpse was to be buried here; it must have a new tomb. And yet this tomb was not his own, but belonged to Joseph. For he lies in the tomb for our sake. But as he had no tomb of his own, so that he would not remain in death and the grave, so also shall we through the power of his resurrection be raised up at the last day and live with him to all eternity.

It is well, also, to notice the example of Joseph, who had his tomb made while he was still living in the body; from which me may assume, that he had not neglected to think about his last hour on earth.

62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”

command that the tomb be made secure. Here we find the counterpart; for the sun produces an effect according to the material on which it shines; it softens and melts wax, but it hardens and dries mud. This was the case also here.

After three days I will rise. First they lied and said he had spoken of the temple; now they speak the truth, and their former lie becomes apparent. Thus one must have seven lies to cover up one. But the truth comes out for all that and asserts its place.

lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away. Be fore Pilate they pretend that his disciples might steal the body; but the word of the Lord is such a sharp thorn in their hearts, that they apprehend, How, if after all he were the Messiah and would arise from the dead, what shall then become of us? But they do not reform with such thoughts; they do not reflect, Alas, what have we done! but become evidently worse. He who knowingly acts against the word, must fall deeper and deeper into sin, and the more he seeks for rest, the more restless and anxious he must become.

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
You have a guard. Though the Jews had arranged everything, as they thought, in the best way, at last this dilemma only makes their case worse, and promotes the holy gospel against their will. After Christ had risen these very keepers brought the news.



Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 155-157.

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