Concluding scenes of the crucifixion *. Joseph and Nicodemus, by consent of Pilate, take the body of Jesus from the cross and lay it in Joseph's tomb. A guard of one hundred Jewish soldiers are placed about the sepulchre.
NOW, at the sixth hour of the day, although the sun was at its height, the day became as dark as night;
2 And men sought lanterns and they builded fires upon the hills that they might see.
3 And when the sun refused to shine and darkness came, the Lord exclaimed, Heloi! Heloi! lama sabachthani *("Thou sun! thou sun! why hast thou forsaken me?")
4 The people did not understand the words he spoke; they thought he spoke the name Elijah and they said,
5 He calls upon Elijah in his hour of need; now we will see if he will come.
6 And Jesus said, I thirst. A Roman soldier dipped a sponge in vinegar and myrrh, and placed it to his lips.
7 Now, at the ninth hour of the day the earth began to quake, and in the darkness of that sunless day, a flood of golden light appeared above the cross;
8 And from the light a voice was heard which said, Lo, it is done.
9 And Jesus said, My Father-God, into thy hands I give my soul.
10 A Roman soldier in compassion said, This agony is all too great; relief shall come. And with a spear he pierced his heart and it was done; the son of man was dead.
11 And then the earth was shocked again; the city of Jerusalem rocked to and fro; the hills were rent and tombs were opened up;
12 And people thought they saw the dead arise and walk the streets.
13 The temple quivered and the veil between the sanctuary and the Holy Place was rent in twain, and consternation reigned through all the place.
14 The Roman guard who watched the body on the cross exclaimed, This surely was the son of God who died.
15 And then the people hurried down from Calvary. The priests, the Pharisees and scribes were filled with fear.
16 They sought the cover of their synagogues and homes and said, Behold, the wrath of God!
17 The great day of the Jewish pasch was near, and Jews could not by law permit a criminal to hang upon the cross upon the Sabbath day.
18 And so they prayed that Pilate would remove the bodies of the men that had been crucified.
19 And Pilate sent his guards to Calvary to note if all the men were dead.
20 And when the guards were gone, two aged Jews came to the palace door to see the governor, and they were members of the highest council of the Jews;
21 Yet they believed that Jesus was a prophet sent from God.
22 The one was Rabbi Joseph, the Arimathean counsellor, and he was just and loved the law of God.
23 And Nicodemus was the other one who came.
24 These men fell down at Pilate's feet and prayed that they might take the body of the Nazarene and lay it in a tomb.
25 And Pilate gave consent.
26 Now, Joseph had prepared a costly mixture to embalm the body of the Lord, about a hundred pounds of aloes and of myrrh, and this they took and hastened out to Calvary.
27 And when the guards returned they said, The Nazarene is dead; the malefactors are alive.
28 And Pilate told the guards to go and smite the living men so they would die, and then to give their bodies to the flames; but give the body of the Nazarene to rabbis who would call for it.
29 The soldiers did as Pilate said.
30 The rabbis came and took away the body of the Lord and when they had prepared it with the spices they had bought,
31 They laid it in the new-made tomb that had been made for Joseph in a solid rock.
32 And then they rolled a stone up to the sepulchre.
33 The priests were fearful lest the friends of Jesus would go forth at night and take away the body of the Nazarene, and then report that he had risen from the dead, as he had said;
34 And they requested that the governor would send his soldiers to the tomb to guard the body of the dead.
35 But Pilate said, I will not send a Roman guard; but you have Jewish soldiers and may send a hundred men with a centurion to guard the tomb.36 And then they sent a hundred soldiers out to guard the tomb.
* V. 3. What do we make of this? It is certainly different from "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" of the KJV. Could we assume that Jesus was physically and mentally delirious? When he returned to Father-God he appears quite lucid. Or, could we wonder if Jesus was exhibiting his ironic sense of humor? Could He be in effect saying: "What's the big deal? I'll be back soon."
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