[A devotional thought…¹]


   To Christians, at Easter it’s easy to say, “Here comes the old familiar story again” (as important as it is).


   This season, Christian scholar R. C. Sproul, in a radio sermon made an observation about the Jesus’ tomb that I’d never really thought about.


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   Without sourcing the familiar account, here’s the overview: Jesus was crucified as criminal, partly because He was called a “king,” which He didn’t deny, and was thought to a Jewish troublemaker and problem to the Roman Empire. Many Jews, however, hated Him because He was challenging the religious status quo. Jesus died after three hours on the cross. With the Sabbath fast approaching, a certain wealthy Jew who believed in Him got permission from the Roman Pontius Pilate who condemned Him, to take him off the cross and quickly bury Him in an unused, rich-man’s tomb.

   First, this involved some risk to (a) the rich man Joseph of Arimathea and (b) Pilate himself.

   Why? Because it was common practice to let people who were being crucified, especially for sedition, to be either (a) left to rot on their crosses until the vultures picked all the meat off their bones or (b) they would be thrown into Gehenna the continually burning garbage dump outside of Jerusalem.

   But this wouldn’t happen to Jesus.

   Isaiah 53:9 says “He [referring to the Messiah] was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in his mouth.”

   What would have persuaded Pilate go along with this–at such risk to himself? The Bible doesn’t say. But here are 3 possibilities”

   (1) Pilate, angry that he “had to” crucify Jesus because he considered him innocent, wanted to get back at the hateful Jewish establishment that wanted to kill Jesus.

   (2) Pilate felt guilty about what he’d done to Jesus. (His wife warned not to do it.) This was the least he could do. Let the “Jewish king” be buried in a brand-new rich man’s tomb.

   (3) Pilate was taking a “first step” into accepting Jesus for what he was.


   ¹ A devotional post like this that quickly comes, and is not so tightly sourced, should be remembered as such, a bit different than the usual grist we grind.