I really appreciate the different styles and approaches of the four gospel writers. As we look from their vantage point into the crucifixion and the days following, we get a slightly different "take" from each of them, and we learn something new by reading the others' versions.
I believe that this really lends authenticity to the story. If I, along with 3 friends, each witnessed an event, and we all wrote our stories down, each of us would remember different things and focus on different elements.
What is clear from all the stories is that Jesus died. His body was given to Joseph of Arimathea who wrapped Jesus in cloths and placed Him in a tomb. There was an urgency to this: they had to get that part done, because the Sabbath was coming.
John provides us this important detail for the story: Jesus was laid in a NEW tomb, one that hadn't been used before.
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:38-42
Luke provides us with more color commentary: the women went with to the tomb and saw how His body was laid in it. (They were eyewitnesses that He was dead and buried.) Luke also tells us that they rested on the Sabbath, which was their custom.
And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man(he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:50-56
I think the resting on the Sabbath is an interesting part of this story because if it were me, I wouldn't have wanted to rest. If my King had just been killed, I would want to call a meeting and figure out what we were going to do about this! If I, like the disciples and women, did not realize that Jesus was going to rise again (even though He foretold it!), I would want to get on with the business of "electing" a new leader! Resting would be about the last thing on my mind. But, they rested, according to the commandment. These were religious people who followed the law.
Mark gives us an important detail about another player in the story, Pilate. When Joseph asked for the body of Jesus, Pilate first wanted to make sure He was dead! Mark also tells us that Joseph made the tomb secure by rolling a stone in front of it.
When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid. Mark 15:42-47
Matthew has some more important information about the sealing of the grave. It seems that the Pharisees implored Pilate to make the grave secure. They knew that Jesus had foretold His own resurrection. Although they didn't believe His words, they thought the disciples would pull a few tricks and steal the body, claiming that He was alive. I find it interesting that just like before Jesus was crucified (Matt. 27:24), Pilate sort of washes his hands of the whole affair. The Pharisees asked Pilate to give orders for the grave to be made secure, but instead, Pilate says, "Do it yourselves."
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave. Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.' Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. Matthew 27:57-66
Jesus died and was buried. He rested from the suffering He endured on the cross. He fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“BEHOLD, MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN; MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL is WELL-PLEASED; I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM, AND HE SHALL PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO THE GENTILES. HE WILL NOT QUARREL, NOR CRY OUT; NOR WILL ANYONE HEAR HIS VOICE IN THE STREETS. A BATTERED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK OFF, AND A SMOLDERING WICK HE WILL NOT PUT OUT, UNTIL HE LEADS JUSTICE TO VICTORY. AND IN HIS NAME THE GENTILES WILL HOPE.” Matthew 12:18-21
In His name, we do have hope! He is the hope of the hopeless, my Savior!
Words by J. Wilbur Chapman
One day when Heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my example is He!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming, O glorious day!
One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!
One day they left Him alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o'er His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He!
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!
One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine;
Wonderful day, my beloved ones bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!