John 19:38-42 Easter at Christmas: Buried Like a King

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Buried Like a King

Joseph was a rich man and Nicodemus was a member of the ruling council of Israel.  In including them both in this part of the story, John wants to show that Jesus was honored in his death.  When kings die dignitaries and important people attend their death.  They are often buried in grand tombs.  In the gospel of John, Jesus has been enthroned on the cross and raised up high.  He is now being given a king’s burial.

A second point in this passage is the secret nature of some of Jesus’ followers.  Although the discipleship of Nicodemus and Joseph is secret it is sincere.  At great personal risk they take Jesus’ body and attend to it the best they can.  They spend their own resources in honouring the dead Jesus and they lay him in a beautiful garden.


Jesus, you are our king and we submit our resources to you.  Our time, energy and money are yours to use as you will.


  1. Who takes care of Jesus’ body?
  2. How are they described?
  3. How is Jesus shown to be a king?
  4. How are your resources used to honour Jesus as king?
  5. Are those who keep their allegiance to Jesus secret in Muslim countries second-class disciples?


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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2 Responses to John 19:38-42 Easter at Christmas: Buried Like a King

  1. Ed says:

    Joseph and Nicodemus retrieve Jesus body, prepared it and put it in a new tomb. Jesus was laid where his tomb could be seen by all. We honor Jesus by doing his work as asked. Spread the word of God and be fruitful. Being active in and out of the church planting seeds. I’m not under Muslim dictatorship or fear for my life for believing in Christianity. I don’t have a family to protect but we must not take the number of the beast. Remember that we must show the path for others and know in our heart that if we die for the name of Jesus others will follow. Our loved ones we will see again.

  2. Dylan says:

    1. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
    2. They are both described in their relation to Jesus. Joseph is a secret disciple of his, and Nicodemus is the man who met with Jesus in secret. So I suppose there are couple of themes here. One shows us that the most important thing about a man is his relation to Jesus and another is that a follower of God can be a secret follower (if life and death are at stake) and still do God’s will.
    3. Jesus is given a proper burial and placed in a new, rich man’s tomb that no one has ever laid in. This is a king’s burial. I think there is some significance to him being buried near the cross too. He temporarily rests near the place of his greatest achievement.
    4. I have been blessed with the ability to play guitar and use it for the glory of God whenever I can, but especially at church every Sunday with the worship team. It is an honor and a privilege to serve. Should I be using social media to spread the gospel? This had been on my mind the past few days.
    5. No. And I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to know you could be killed for your allegiance to Christ. This passage of scripture makes it clear that God will use them for his glory and their good despite their circumstances.

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