Jesus was dead, and His friends and followers mourned with great sorrow. Two of His friends
were both wealthy and respected Jewish men: Joseph (from Arimathea), who was an honorable
counselor; and Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. They loved Jesus and had spent much time with
Him; but their love for Him had been kept secret, as Jewish law would not allow anyone to worship
Jesus or follow His teachings. But now, Joseph came openly to Pontius Pilate to request the
body of Jesus. Pilate granted his request, and Nicodemus went openly with Joseph, to help him
prepare Jesus' body for burial. Nicodemus brought one hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes to bury
with the body, as was the custom of the Jews in those days. And together, they wrapped the body
of Jesus in linen with the myrrh and aloes. Joseph owned a tomb which had already been
prepared for his own burial, and they used this tomb for Jesus' body. When the body was laid to
rest, Joseph closed the tomb by rolling a heavy stone in front of the entrance.
The next day, on the Jewish Sabbath, the chief priests and Pharisees spoke to Pilate, reminding
him that when Jesus was in Galilee, He had said, "After three days I will rise again."
They feared that someone might steal His body, and then claim that Jesus had risen from the dead.
So Pilate sent the men to make sure that the tomb was properly sealed; and two guards stood watch
over the tomb. The guards watched through the night, without incident; but at the break of dawn
there was a great earthquake, and an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and moved the stone
from the tomb, and sat upon it.
The guards were very frightened, and they shook and fell unconscious.
At this time, some of the women were on their way to visit the tomb, to annoint Jesus' body
with sweet spices. As they walked, they wondered how they would be able to move
the stone from the tomb, for it was very heavy; but when they arrived, they saw that the stone
had been moved, and the tomb was empty!
Suddenly, two men appeared, wearing clothes that gleamed like lightning. The women were
afraid, but the men said, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but
has risen. Remember when He was in Galilee and He said 'The Son of Man must be
delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day
rise again.' "
The women remembered those words, and with fear and excitement, they ran from the
tomb to tell the disciples what had happened.