MARK, Chapter 15: 1–47
The Passion Narrative according to Mark in his Gospel covers two chapters, 14 and 15. They are quite distinct.
Apart from these Introductory Notes, this edition of TEA treats only Chapter 15. To treat of both chapters would be very long.
Chapter 14 has eleven scenes and these treat of the dialogue, activities and relationship of Jesus and his disciples. Jesus foretold the betrayal by Judas, the loss of faith by the disciples and the denial three times by Peter. In addition there is the recording that a disciple who was held ran away naked. Nevertheless Jesus showed himself full of mercy by instituting the Eucharist in their presence and, in spite of their weakness, sharing it with them at his Last Supper and promising to meet them in Galilee after his death
When questioned by the high priest, Jesus declared himself to be the “Christ”, Messiah, the “Son of the Blessed” and the “Son of Man”, the three titles used throughout the Gospel (Mk. 14: 61–62).
In Chapter 14 there are eleven sections. The centre one is number six which treats of the Eucharistic meal.
There are nine sections in Chapter 15 of Mark’s Gospel. Number 5, the central division, tells of the crucifixion.
Chapter 14 treats of the relationship of Jesus and the apostles. In Chapter 15 they are replaced by the Romans. The Jews, of course, are present in both chapters.
That Jesus is “King of the Jews” is stated by Pilate (Mk. 15: 2. 9), the crowd (v. 12–13), the Roman soldiers (v. 18) and the inscription on the cross (v. 26).
Chapters 14 and 15 are full of movement. Chapter 14 shows us Jesus moving to Bethany (Mk. 14: 3+), then to the Upper Room (14: 12–16), to Gethsemane (14: 32+) and to the house of the high priest (53+).
Chapter 15 describes Jesus as brought to Pilate (Mk. 15: 1+), then he is taken inside the praetorium to be mocked (15: 16+) and finally led out to be crucified (15:20). The final movement is the burial (Mk. 15: 45).
TEXT & EXPLANATION
1 And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”
“And as soon as it was morning” — This could refer to an early morning or specifically to the fourth watch of the night, 3.00 — 6.00 a.m.
“the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council” — The first three groups mentioned here comprised the religious leaders in Jerusalem who from the time of Jesus’ entry into the city were most opposed to him (Mk. 11: 18, 27; 12: 12, etc.). The “whole council” is also translated as the “whole Sanhedrin” which was the Jewish Supreme Court which could also judge religious questions. It consisted of seventy–one members, the vast majority being the chief priests, elders and scribes with the current chief priest being the president.
“held a consultation;” — They had already held one consultation the previous night in the chief priest’s palace to find “evidence against Jesus on which they might pass the death–sentence. But they could not find any” (Mk. 14: 54–55). When the chief priest challenged Jesus, who had remained silent to this point, and asked if he were “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”, Jesus relied in the affirmative (Mk. 14: 61–62). They all gave their verdict: he deserved to die” (Mk. 14: 64). But they did not condemn him to death. This was why they held the second consultation the following morning. Perhaps the best description would be to consider two sessions of the same meeting.
“and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate.” — He is now treated as a convict.
Jesus’ third passion prophecy or prediction is now fulfilled: “And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles’” (Mk. 10: 32–33).
‘To deliver to’ or ‘to be handed over to’ are expressions found in the Bible passion narratives that are frequent (Mk. 9: 31, 10: 33–34; 14: 10, 11,18, 21,41, 42, 44; 15:10, 15).
“And Pilate asked him,” — Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect of Judea for ten years, 26–36AD. He was described as cruel and inflexible. On major Jewish feasts he spent time in Jerusalem lest the large crowds get out of hand and cause trouble, perhaps even insurrection.
“Are you the King of the Jews?” — Pilate did not hold a trial as such but dialogued with Jesus. The Romans called the Messiah by the title they better understood, “King of the Jews”.
“And he answered him, “You have said so.” — When Pilate asked Jesus his reply, “You have said so.”, was that it depended on what Pilate meant by that political title.
3 And the chief priests accused him of many things.
“And the chief priests accused him of many things.” — The chief priests, the scribes and elders continued to press charges against Jesus (Mk. 14: 1, 10, 43, 47, 53, 54, 55, 60, 61, 63, 66, 15: 1, 10, 11, 31).
4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered.
“And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” — Pilate is getting impatient with Jesus and his lack of replies. What he says is: “Don’t you have anything to say to my questions?”
By his silence Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7 — “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, Yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.”
“But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered.” — It would appear that Pilate was trying to be just and fair to Jesus and he could not understand why he was not defending himself.
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barab’bas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. 9 And he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barab’bas instead.
“Now at the feast” — This is the feast of Passover, the greatest of the Jewish feasts. As it commemorated the exodus from slavery in Egypt it was associated with freedom and this was the reason why a prisoner was allowed his freedom each year to celebrate this feast.
“he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barab’bas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them.” — The crowd had the privilege of choosing the person to be set free. They could choose one already condemned to death, which they did in this instance. His name meant “Bar” = son of; Abbas = the father. Jesus, of course, was “Son of God the Father”. In certain manuscripts Barabbas was also called Jesus Barabbas. “Jesus” would have been a common name at the time. One can see the irony of ‘Jesus Barabbas’ being set free and Jesus our Saviour being crucified.
“And he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’” — As we saw in verse 2, where Pilate used the term “King of the Jews”, he was referring to the Jewish term “Messiah”. It would appear that he hoped to evoke some sympathy for Jesus and persuade the crowd to ask for him, rather than for Barabbas. It would appear that Pilate regarded Jesus as innocent and not deserving to die.
“For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.” — Pilate saw that the chief priests were envious of the way Jesus was appealing to the crowds and they had decided to remove him by handing him over to the Roman authorities to crucify him.
“But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead.” — The crowd might possibly have been influenced by Pilate but the chief priests were taking no chances and were strong in getting the people to follow their instructions.
12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barab’bas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
“And Pilate again [in turn, thereupon] said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?’ And they cried out again, ‘Crucify him.’” — As already seen (v. 2), when Pilate used the term “Kin g of the Jews” he had in mind the Jewish title of Messiah.
“Crucify him” — This is the first time in Mark’s Gospel that the crucifixion is mentioned.
“And Pilate said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’” — The word “said” is in the imperfect tense and should be translated as “he kept saying”, repeated times. Pilate could find no cause to sentence Jesus and he really declared him innocent by the words “‘Why, what evil has he done?’”
“But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him.’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas;” — The second shout of the crowd to crucify Jesus is stronger than the first and indicates that the crowd is not going to be persuaded by Pilate to release Jesus.
Realising this Pilate gave way and set Barabbas free.
“and having scourged Jesus,” — The purpose of the scourging was to weaken Jesus so that death would not be prolonged. Pilate had not yet handed Jesus over to be crucified, as the following words testify. It would seem that the scourging was in public before Pilate and the crowd.
“he delivered him to be crucified.” — Crucifixion was a Roman mode of putting a person to death. The Jewish mode was stoning. Pilate “delivered him to be crucified”, that is he handed him over to the Roman soldiers to crucify him.
16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the praetorium); and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and they knelt down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him.
“And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the praetorium); and they called together the whole battalion.” — The “praetorium” was the Latin word for “palace”
The soldiers “called together the whole battalion” This was most unlikely because of the number involved. A legion consisted of six hundred men. It most probably meant that they called those on duty.
“And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!’” — Purple was the colour of royalty. Dressing him in purple and crowning him with a garland of thorns indicated that they were mocking him as “King of the Jews”, abhorrent for the Jews and the Roman equivalent of the title “Messiah”. Once again we see the irony of the mockery because Jesus was in fact the “King of the Jews”.
“And they struck his head with a reed,” — The King’s symbol of his power was the scepter and so they used it to beat him, indicating that he had no power when it could be used against himself.
“and spat upon him,” — This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy: “I gave my back to the smiters, [scourging] and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I hid my face from shame and spitting”.
and they knelt down in homage to him.” — To genuflect was normal before royalty as a sign of respect and obedience.
“And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him.” — This completed their mockery and cruelty inflicted on one whom they regarded as a pretender to the title “King of the Jews”.
And they led him out to crucify him.
“And they led him out to crucify him.” — The “they” refers to the Roman soldiers to whom Pilate had handed over Jesus.
21 And they compelled a passer–by, Simon of Cyre’ne, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus to carry his cross.
“And they compelled a passer–by, Simon of Cyre’ne, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus to carry his cross.” — “Cyrene” was in Libya.
“coming in from the country” — implies that Simon was coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast. He may have been settled in the Holy Land at this time.
“the father of Alexander and Rufus” — Obviously these two were known to Mark and at least to some of his Roman readers. Mark wrote his Gospel primarily for the Christians in Rome about 70 AD. Most likely Alexander and Rufus lived in Rome and were Christians. Rufus may be the same person as mentioned in Rm. 16: 13 — “Greet Rufus, eminent in the Lord, and his mother and mine”.
“to carry his cross” — Jesus must have been greatly weakened, an indication that he had received severe stress and punishment during his imprisonment. It was not the cross that he had been carrying but the cross–beam. The upright was already erected on site.
From this scene the expression “carry your cross” has become very popular and meaningful.
22 And they brought him to the place called Gol’gotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour, when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”
“And they brought him to the place called Gol’gotha (which means the place of a skull).” — The hill outside the city walls on which the cross was placed was smooth and rounded like the shape of a human skull.
“And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh” — This offering was based on Proverbs 31: 6–7 — “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more”.
“Myrrh” was added to make the drink more attractive.
“but he did not take it.” — There were two reasons for this. The first was that Jesus did not wish to diminish his sufferings for sinners and the quotation from Proverbs above implies that “strong drink” could bring about that effect. The second was that at the Last Supper Jesus had said “Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mk. 14: 25).
“And they crucified him,” — This is one of the two central and most important statements in Mark’s Gospel and in English it is only four words. It will be repeated twice (Mk. 15: 25, 27).
We are accustomed to two designs of the cross. In the first there are two pieces of wood put together so that there is a section appearing above the cross–beam. In the second the cross looks like a capital letter “T”. In both forms the victim was first attached to the cross–beam with ropes or nails and then lifted onto the vertical beam. If nails were used, these were driven into the wrists or forearms. Generally there was a peg for a seat and a little platform for the feet. These helped prolong the agony of the victim. Victims were frequently dressed in loincloths though these were not always used and the victim was naked. There is no indication that Jesus had a loincloth or not.
“and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.” — This fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 21: 8 in the same words.
“And it was the third hour, when they crucified him.” — Mark and John do not agree on the timing of details. Here is Mark’s chronology:
Mk. 15: 1 “morning” 6.00 a.m. Jesus before Pilate
Mk. 15: 25 “third hour” 9.00 a.m. Crucifixion begins
Mk. 15: 33 “sixth hour” noon Darkness over earth
Mk. 15: 34 “ninth hour” 3.00 p.m. Death of Jesus
Mk. 15: 42 “late” 6.00 p.m. Burial
“And the inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’” — Again we see the irony of the charge against Jesus. The Romans had the charge placed over the cross to frighten and deter other persons who might attempt an opposition to the authorities. But in fact, Jesus was and is “The King of the Jews”.
It must be kept in mind, as mentioned several times in these notes, that when the Romans used the term “King of the Jews” they referred to the Jewish term “Messiah”. Jesus was condemned and executed as the “Messiah”, the Christ, the Anointed One.
Two Robbers, Passers–by and Chief Priests
27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.
“And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.” — These bandits, thieves or rebels are not named. Mark will have both of them mock Jesus (Mk. 15: 32). Luke alone contains the story of the “good thief” (Lk. 23: 39–42).
28: There is no verse 28. At one time there was a verse inserted: “And the scripture was fulfilled which says: ‘he was counted among the lawless’”. As this was not Mark’s way of referring to Sacred Scripture it was judged to have been a verse inserted by some disciple and removed.
29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!”
“And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’” — It is presumed that the place of crucifixion was quite close to a public road and those who passed joined in the mocking because they had no sympathy for anyone being executed. These mockers brought up the first accusation at the trial before the Sanhedrin, that Jesus would destroy the Temple in Jerusalem and rebuild it in three days. Their mockery was that now he is being crucified.
31 So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
“So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself.” — The chief priests and scribes were those who led the campaign to crucify Jesus and they remained in the forefront until he died (Mk. 11: 18, 27; 14: 1, 10, 43, 53, 60, 61, 63, 66; 15: 1, 3, 10, 11).
“Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ ” — The title “King of Israel” is the more correct title rather than “King of the Jews”. The former was used by Jews, the latter by the Romans.
“Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.” — See comment on verse 27 above. Mark wishes to show that on the cross Jesus had no supporters, not even at the foot of the cross, only revilers, mockers and enemies. He mentions the chief priests, the scribes, the passersby on the road and the two criminals also crucified. He was absolutely on his own. The following verses will show that he considered himself abandoned by God.
33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “E’lo–i, E’lo–i, la’ma sabach–tha’ni?” which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
“And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” — See note on verse 25 for the various hours. The time here is from noon to 3.00 p.m.
The “darkness” may have been caused by a sand storm, an eclipse of the sun or perhaps some divine intervention. The point is that nature mourned for Jesus as for an only son. The “darkness” had been foretold by Sacred Scripture in this context, “And on that day” says the Lord God, “I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight, I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son. and the end of it like a bitter day” (Amos 8: 9–10. For other references to “darkness” see also: Gn. 1: 2–3; Ex. 10: 21–23; Jer. 15: 9, 33: 19–21; Joel, 2: 2, 31; Zeph. 1: 15).
“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘E’lo–i, E’lo–i, la’ma sabach–tha’ni?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’” — The “ninth hour” was 3.00 p.m. This was the time of Jesus’ last word and indication of being alive. He would have died very shortly after this exclamation.
35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Eli’jah.” 36 And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Eli’jah will come to take him down.”
“And some of the bystanders hearing it said, ‘Behold, he is calling Eli’jah.’” — The bystanders were confused by Jesus’ exclamation and they thought that he was calling on Elijah rather than on God, “Eloi”. According to Malachi (4: 5), Elijah was expected to appear before the Day of the Lord. After Jesus was transfigured on the mountain and the three apostles were returning to level ground, Peter asked, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must first come”, Jesus replied, “I tell you that Elijah has come”, referring to John the Baptist (Mk. 9: 9–13). See Mark 1: 2–4.
“And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’” — This was meant to be a gesture of sympathy for Jesus and intended to keep him conscious for as long as possible. The words “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” were not necessarily hopeful.
37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last.
“And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last.” — Jesus was conscious until he breathed his last breath. This was not the manner in which crucified persons died as they suffered so much they normally would be unconscious for long periods.
This “loud cry and breathed his last” may refer to Jesus handing over his Holy Spirit to his Father. John wrote in his Gospel “When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn. 19: 30).
38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
“And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” — In the Temple there was “the Holy of Holies” where God lived among his people. The “curtain”, or “the veil”, was before the “Holy of Holies”. It served to prevent people from entering the sanctuary. This symbolism of the separation of heaven and earth now permanently destroyed is a thing of the past
That the “curtain of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom” could only be a direct act of God. The description of the damage to the curtain suggests that it could not be repaired.
39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
“And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” — The “centurion who stood facing him” was the officer in charge of the crucifixion. He would have been a Gentile.
Mark’s Gospel opened with the words, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.
Only now, at his death, is the true identity of Jesus revealed and that is done by a Gentile Roman soldier who presided at his death. Jesus is revealed as the Suffering Messiah, Son of Man and the Son of God.
40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Mag’dalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salo’me, 41 who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him; and also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
“There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Mag’dalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salo’me,” — Mary Magdalene is the most important of these women. She is witness to Jesus’ death, and later to his burial (Mk. 15: 47), to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning (Mk. 16: 1–8) and to meeting him in person.
“who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him;” — Theses were disciples from Galilee who accompanied Jesus and the apostles on many occasions.
“and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses,” — She was mother to the apostle called “the son of Alpheus” (Mk. 3: 18.
“Salome” is not known.
“and also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.” — This is one of the few occasions when these women are mentioned as having accompanied Jesus and the apostles.
42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathe’a, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.
“And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,” — Jesus died at 3.00 p.m. or very shortly after and the Sabbath began at 6.00 p.m. when all work had to finish. Much had to be done to have Jesus entombed before 6.000 p.m., including obtaining Pilate’s permission to bury the body and buy the necessary shroud and embalming oils.
“Joseph of Arimathe’a, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” — Joseph of Arimathea was a Jew and not yet a disciple of Jesus. As a member of the Sanhedrin (“council”) he would, according to Mark, have condemned Jesus to death that morning (Mk. 14: 55, 64; 15: 1). However, as a devout Jew he would follow the instructions of Deuteronomy (21: 22–23) which were that executed persons were not to be left on the cross during the Sabbath and had to be removed prior to it. He sought and obtained Pilate’s permission to bury Jesus. It is almost certain that Pilate would not have given permission to one of the apostles or disciples to bury “the King of the Jews” as this might lead to disturbances. If someone had not asked for the body it is most likely that Jesus would have been thrown into a common grave with the other two executed prisoners.
44 And Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.
“And Pilate wondered if he were already dead;” — Some crucified prisoners could linger for a whole day or perhaps even longer, depending on their strength. Jesus was already six hours on the cross so Pilate wanted to be sure that he was dead. This also helped prove without doubt that his followers were assured he was dead when taken down from the cross and not in a coma from which he could arise.
“and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.” — The centurion had been a close witness of Jesus’ agony and death; no better witness of the death.
46 And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
“And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.” — The “linen shroud” would have been a linen sheet wrapped around Jesus’ body. The body would have been placed on a shelf in the tomb and left to decompose. After at least a year the bones would be collected and placed in a special stone box with an inscription referring to the deceased.
There is no mention that the tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. This may be implied by the fact that Joseph did not buy a tomb.
47 Mary Mag’dalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
“Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.” — The women did not participate in the burial of Jesus. Their function was to be witness of the death and burial and to know where he was buried. In this way they could not be accused of going to the wrong grave on Easter Sunday morning.