Luke 23:51-56

Luke 23:51 (KJB)
(The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

The city of Arimathaea was located about 23 miles (37 km) northwest of Jerusalem and may be identified with the city of Rathamin. The exact location is not known. Luke is the only one of the writers which refers to the city as a city of the Jews. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin who came to Jesus by night as Nicodemus did. Joseph was described as a good and just man. Joseph did not consent to the counsel of putting Jesus to death nor did he partake of any of their plots against Jesus including His crucifixion. It is not known whether Joseph was present at the kangaroo trial of Jesus. If he was and opposed their actions, then he did so at great peril to himself. Joseph, as many other Jews, were waiting for the arrival of the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1:6 KJV) When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? Even the disciples at the point of Jesusí ascension were still inclined to believe that there was going to be a physical Kingdom of God on earth.

Luke 23:52 (KJB)
This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.

Joseph then went to Pilate and asked if he could have the body of Jesus. I am sure he told Pilate about their law of not allowing a dead body to remain on a cross or tree overnight. He wanted to take the body of Jesus and properly bury Him. Then Pilate gave permission for Joseph to take the body of Jesus. After all, what trouble could Jesus now cause since He was dead. The Roman custom was to let the body of the dead prisoner hang on the tree until it rotted away. Sometimes from the time of Augustus, the family was allowed to take the body. Joseph had risked his position on the Sanhedrin because he was now showing himself to be on the side of Jesus which meant he would be an enemy of the Sanhedrin.

Luke 23:53 (KJB)
And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.

Then the soldiers probably had taken the body of Jesus off the cross and gave it to Joseph who then began to prepare the body for burial. The body was wrapped in an unused clean linen cloth. It was not the complete ritual to bury a body according to Jewish custom because the time was close to the sabbath. (Mark 16:1 KJV) And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. This is why they went back on Sunday morning to complete the anointing of the body but by then Jesus was resurrected.

The tomb which Joseph had hewn out for himself was a plain tomb hewn out of rock. There were many of those around Jerusalem. The burial chamber would have been cut horizontally in the tomb. Then once the body was laid in the tomb, a large heavy rock was rolled in front of the entrance. It probably looked like a large millstone. Since Jesus had been condemned as a criminal, it was not lawful for the owner of the tomb to use it again. In other words, no other bodies could be laid in that tomb even if it was a family crypt. Then once the large stone was rolled in front of the door, they departed. (Num 19:11-13 KJV) He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. {12} He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. {13} Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him. Those who helped place Jesus in the tomb and wrapped his body would have been disallowed under the law from partaking of the Passover and feast of unleavened bread because they would have been considered unclean for seven days. There was to be a purification ceremony or else they would remain in a state of ceremonial uncleanness.

Luke 23:54 (KJB)
And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

The day of preparation began at 6:00 PM on Thursday night. It was the time used to prepare all the meals and everything else that was needed for the celebration of the Sabbath. The Sabbath would begin on Friday at 6:00 PM and from that point they would not be allowed to do any type of work and that is why they hurried to bury Jesus before the Sabbath began or else they would be in violation of the law. They had a three hour window form the time Jesus died at 3:00 PM till the Sabbath began at 6:00 PM.

Luke 23:55 (KJB)
And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the wife of Cleopas was sitting opposite of the grave and had seen how Joseph had prepared the body of Jesus for burial. They not only witnessed His death but they also witnessed His burial and knew the location of the tomb. This is important because when Sunday came around they went to the right tomb where Jesus was laid and no one could accuse them of going to the wrong tomb. They even paid close attention as to how the body was placed in the tomb. Basically, they knew all the details of the location and the burial.

Luke 23:56 (KJB)
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

They had returned home after they buried Jesus and had prepared spices and ointments which would be used to anoint the dead body of Jesus when they would go back to the tomb after the Sabbath was over. So they made all the preparations and then rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. (Exo 20:10-11 KJV) But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: {11} For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Little did they know that they would never use those spices because Jesus would already be risen by the time they got to the tomb.